It is the off-season. You may not want to hear that yet, but there are several 2023 Astros that are no longer with the team.
Remember to always check the Astros 2023-2024 Offseason Outline for the links to all offseason articles.
Here is the YouTube for this Article too.
Players officially become Free Agents the day after the World Series ends. Teams have exclusive rights to negotiate with their former players that are FA the five days after the World Series ends. Of course, even after the exclusive window these Astros players could still choose to resign with the Astros.
Who are the 2023 Astros that are soon to be Free Agents? Who do I think will be back? I list them in order of likelihood. I will dig into the details of payroll implications of these later.
I would not classify ANY 2023 Astros players that are now Free Agents as likely to return.
Phil Maton- 30.6 years old- If the price is right (no more than his $2.6M in 2023), Maton COULD be back, but I do not think it is likely.
Ryne Stanek- 32.3 years old- I think it is even less likely- almost a longshot- that Stanek would return.
Martin Maldonado- 37.2 years old- The front office and Dana Brown are very unlikely to resign Maldonado and deal with the same catcher playing time debate that has plagued the Astros in 2023. I believe the team will sign a veteran who is CLEARLY WILLING to serve as a backup and mentor. Age here is a MAJOR factor in that it has diminished Maldy's once highly regarded defensive skills the last few years. I will likely write more about this when the direction becomes more settled.
Michael Brantley- 36.4 years old- He is likely to retire soon according to multiple media sources.
Option players- Options must be exercised by fifth day after the World Series
Hector Neris- 34.4 years old- ($8.5M club option with $1M Buyout which converts to a player option after he passes an end-of-season physical)- Let's assume he passes the physical. I would guess Neris and the Astros negotiate a deal to add a year and he would accept that renegotiated deal.
Predicted deal- 2024- $9.5M, 2025- $8.5M
Now whether they SHOULD bring back Neris is a more interesting question. His 2023 ERA was 1.71 but his FIP was 3.83. Looking at his three primary pitches over the past three years shows an interesting trend.
His 4-seam fastball is down in velocity but is as effective. His sinker is down further in velocity and worse than average this year. His splitter too is slower but just as effective.
Neris may need to drop the sinker even more and add more sliders (xwOBA 0.236 in 2023).
If the Astros can negotiate just a one-year deal, it might be best with the 34- year old Neris.
Neris probably back- 11/5 Note- Neris did decline his option. This gives the Astros ~$7M (Astros pay $1M buyout) more to work with so I will target a total budget of $18-20M but they now probably need TWO RP.
Stanek not likely
Let me know what you think! Comment below.
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