How Hunter Brown's ascension could alter the Houston Astros rotation
Hunter Brown, Luis Garcia, Cristian Javier, Lance McCuller Jr., Jose Urquidy, Framber Valdez, and Justin Verlander. What pitching staff do you know (or have ever known) that has or has had seven starters? Not five. Not six. But SEVEN guys who can take the mound on any given day and get you a win? Some may have their hiccups or experience bumps in the road, but none of them are flaming disasters. Not a single one is to be taken lightly. Every one is a threat to go six or seven innings. All have good stuff. So, is there a such thing as having too much of a good thing? Is too much of a good thing bad for you? Who's the odd man out?
The Astros have an embarrassment of riches at starter on their pitching staff. The bullpen is another story. At least three of these guys will head to the bullpen come postseason. A four-man rotation is pretty common in the playoffs. Next season is a different story. Decisions need to be made. There are only so many starting spots. Even in a six-man rotation, one man is still the odd man out. Typically, there's a five-man rotation and an extra starter in case someone gets hurt, or a long reliever is needed.
One option the Astros have is to trade one of their young, cheap arms for another player at a position of need. A young guy who's ready to come in and play, or a solid vet to add to replace some of the guys they're most likely to lose. Center field, first base, left field, and bullpen are four positions I'd look to upgrade if there's a deal to be made. There's one other option out there I'd like to bring up...
What if the Astros decided to let Verlander walk since they have all these young, talented arms? I'm fairly certain he won't take another hometown/coming off career-threatening injury discount this offseason when he inevitably opts out to become a free agent. $25 million a year won't cut it. Sure he'll be 40 years old when next season starts, but he's also not your average 40-year-old either. Verlander is a rare breed. His skills have gotten better. He's aging like a fine wine. The thing with fine wines, they're terribly expensive. You can usually find a really good wine at a more pocket friendly price.
Letting Verlander walk will free up money to spend on a player in free agency that can fill a hole on the roster. Or that money can be allocated towards resigning Kyle Tucker to a long term deal. "There's so much more room for activities!" I know it's not ideal to think of Verlander finishing his career elsewhere. He won his only World Series here. He and his family love the fact that they can be themselves and not be hounded when they're out and about. However, this sport is still a business. Business decisions need to be made. If he's looking for $40 million plus, that's a bit much. Are Jim Crane and James Click willing to ante up? Or will they stand down and spread their resources elsewhere? This is why they get paid the big bucks. Time will only tell. The Hot Stove League will indeed be hot this offseason!