As the Astros prepare for a game in San Antonio on Saturday, it’s the first time since October that they have not announced new cards to be released for their lineup.
While the Astros are known for being conservative with their roster, they have had to tweak things to fit the needs of the market, particularly with the emergence of some new players.
Here are some of the things we know about what the Astros can expect to see in the next few weeks.
The New Player: This one’s a big one.
The Astros have announced that rookie right-hander Kyle Gibson has been designated for assignment and that they will be moving him to the bullpen to start the season.
This is the first significant move in a year when the Astros have not only moved several of their top prospects, but also moved veteran righty David Hernandez, who they had to use in a trade with the Padres.
The move is a bit of a surprise considering Gibson is a quality closer who has been one of the Astros’ best performers in 2017, posting a 2.68 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 30 innings.
It’s possible that the Astros will look to the future with Gibson, but for now, this is a great move for the Astros.
The Price Changes: The Astros had a pretty good year with the help of their young core, but they struggled to make a dent in the NL West.
The addition of right-handed starter Tyler Anderson and the addition of two more arms, closer Jose Altuve and outfielder Evan Gattis, should help the Astros improve their team’s rotation.
The team is also expected to add outfielder Luis Valbuena and shortstop Jed Lowrie.
The roster has some good depth, but with the likes of Valbuenes and Lowrie having to move around to accommodate other positions, the Astros could be left with very little depth for the future.
The Contender: The team has been very solid in 2018, but it will be interesting to see how they approach the next season.
The 2017 Astros finished with the fourth-best record in baseball, but the team is expected to be more aggressive this year.
The club’s rotation has some talent, but its pitching staff has been far from the best in the league.
This year, it appears the Astros might be looking to move some of their younger pitchers to try and address their need at the back of the rotation.
If the team’s pitching staff is solid, the team should be able to contend for the AL West and the division title.
The Big Moves: It will be fascinating to see what the 2018 Astros lineup will look like, but in general, they look to be one of those teams that has the potential to be a contender.
The front office is looking to upgrade their rotation, adding a veteran closer to a rotation that features high-quality pitching and a big arm.
They also will look at acquiring veteran pitching prospects, and the team will be looking for some help at the position.
The bullpen is also a big need for the team, and they are expected to address that need in the offseason.
If all of that sounds like the Astros should be in contention for the 2019 AL West title, they should be.