Three moves the Astros need to have better 2024 season

Three moves the Astros need to make in the offseason

For the Astros to have a successful 2024 season, they must make some adjustments.
It’s doubtful that even one MLB fan would have mentioned the idea of the team finishing last by mid-May if a survey of 10,000 fans had been done prior to the season and asked what their worst-case scenario for the 2024 Houston Astros would be. However, the Astros are currently 13-24 as of May 10, so this is more of a nightmare than a worst-case scenario.

With such high expectations to contend for a title, as is automatically the case when a team has made seven straight ALCS appearances, it will be difficult for the Astros to give up on this team no matter how bad things might get. General manager Dana Brown said as much, when he gave a pseudo State of the Union address for his franchise when appearing on MLB Network.

There’s time still for Houston to turn it around, but certainly not unlimited amounts of it. Eventually, they’ll have to choose whether to buy, sell or ride it out with the current team, all of which have potentially devastating repercussions.

Today, we’ll look at realistic moves the ‘Stros could make between now and the trade deadline that would represent each of those approaches. Moves that could make or break the Astros for this season and beyond.

Acquire Blue Jays 1B/DH Justin Turner

This move would require two things. One, the Astros get themselves back into the playoff picture and two, the Blue Jays fall out of it completely. But since neither is unrealistic, it’s worth daydreaming about a scenario where the Astros obtain the veteran bat of their dreams, righting what has long been wrong since Houston signed former White Sox star José Abreu.

Justin Turner has been the consummate professional at the plate for a long time now, but it’s been especially validating to see him do it in different uniforms at his advanced age. He’s 39 now and put up an .800 OPS in 2023 with the Boston Red Sox, which would have been much higher if he didn’t tail off while playing through a foot injury. He has a .787 OPS with Toronto, even more impressive given how much offense is down across the entire league.

If Houston is going to make one more run at it with the current core, it will be crucial to add one more bat. In addition to Abreu’s brutal struggles, they’ve gotten minimal production from the outfield, catching and third base positions. Bringing in Turner would lengthen the lineup and provide an extra hitting coach all in one, something that could only benefit the other scuffling hitters up and down the Astros’ lineup.

Trade SP Justin Verlander

On the other hand completely, if the Astros do become sellers, they have a boatload of assets at their disposal to unload in exchange for prospects. And in a way, it would be poetic for the Astros to acquire prospects for Justin Verlander, because they sent two of their top young guns to the New York Mets last season in order to bring him back to Houston.

Let’s say it’s July and the Astros are still 10+ games under .500. In this competitive AL playoff race, all five East teams plus three or four of the Central teams might be in play. The Astros could realistically say to themselves, “We have no shot,” turn around and pick from a bigger number of buyers than there were in years past before expanded playoffs.

Verlander has one of the most expensive contracts in baseball, but it’s also already taken care of in large part by the Mets. If he doesn’t pitch the requisite 140 innings for his conditional player option to vest, he also becomes a free agent after this season. So for a team looking for veteran experience, he’s likely the perfect rental. It’s easy to see him in a Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves or even New York Yankees uniform and the Astros would likely benefit from a heated bidding war.

Trade RP Ryan Pressly

In a scenario where the Astros don’t want to give up on contention altogether, but still want to unload some 2024 salary in exchange for prospects, trading Ryan Pressly is their best bet. He doesn’t have the day-to-day impact of a Verlander or an Alex Bregman, but he’s still a valuable piece for a team looking to shore up their bullpen.

Pressly is making $14 million this season to pitch the eighth inning, with a mutual option for the same price tag in 2025. He’s one of many relievers underperforming for Houston this season, but he has a long track record of success in the biggest moments of the season and plenty of teams would give deference to that track record over this brief rough patch after he undeservedly lost the closer role.

Which postseason teams are in need of bullpen support? Only all of them, oh. Given Craig Kimbrel’s difficulties, the Orioles would be a top contender once more, but he could also fit in nicely with the Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Kansas City Royals, or a half-dozen other teams. If Brown and the Astros are unable to fully commit to raising the white flag but realize they also cannot afford to do nothing, Pressly is the best player to deal.

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