Houston Astros proving that sometimes no deal, is the best deal
I remember when the Astros were perennial losers. They stripped the organization down and decided it was time to start it over. Tanking, trusting the process, rebuilding...whatever you want to call it. The decision was made to hit the reset button. It was necessary. The team had fallen on hard times when vets were past their prime and the minors weren't bearing much fruit. The worst records receive the highest draft picks. Following the 2011 season, general manager Ed Wade was fired, and Jeff Luhnow was brought in to replace him.
Almost five months before he was let go, Wade kicked off the rebuild drafting George Springer 11th overall in the 2011 draft. Luhnow followed by drafting Carlos Correa 1st overall in the 2012 draft. What followed was a systematic reconstruction of the organization. Fast-forward 10 years, and those two guys left in back-to-back offseasons. The blow of Springer's loss was softened by the guys the team could use in the outfield. Correa's loss was a bit scarier because shortstop is a key defensive position. Both guys provided the intangibles teams look for in leaders. When those same guys are two of your best players, it hurts a little more, but baseball is a business and business decisions were made.
Correa's loss has been offset by the play of rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña. Peña has wowed the audience with his defense and has shown flashes at the plate. He may not have Correa's cannon or range, but he's proven to be a suitable replacement. While plugging him in at shortstop was a smart move and inexpensive, how else did they spend the money saved?
The most obvious is also the most recent move, when the team was able to locked up Yordan Alvarez to a new six-year deal worth $115 million dollars. Alvarez has proven to be one of the best young hitters in the game, mainly because of his ridiculous power. He's also been able to keep a decent batting average. His knee injuries derailed him some, but they seem to be behind him. Playing in the outfield isn't his strong suit, but the new universal designated hitter rule makes him even more valuable. The fact that they were able to lock him in before arbitration and free agency is amazing.
Perhaps not as obvious was re-signing closer Ryan Pressly. He's held down that closer role, or at least a bullpen role, since he was acquired via trade before the 2018 deadline. His two-year deal with an option for a third year helps shore up one of the pressing needs this team has had for a few seasons. He's been moved around in the pen, but has settled in as the closer. His ability and willingness to move around the pen gives the team a reliable arm anywhere from the 7th to 9th innings. The analytics crew loves his spin rate, which is why they traded for him.
One other move I'm hoping they make is to lock up Kyle Tucker. Looking at what Alvarez signed for, Tucker may want more since he's just as good at the plate and is a plus in the outfield defensively. While Tucker is only a few months older than Alvarez, I could easily see him asking for more. However it all works out, I think James Click has done a decent job replacing Luhnow and keeping the train moving in the right direction. Click was placed in a tough spot. The sign-stealing scandal set the team back some as far as restocking the minors, but Click also had to contend with impending free agents. So far, so good. Jim Crane is undoubtedly somewhere smiling, knowing he's managed to push all the right buttons in hiring Click to replace Luhnow.