With the 2021 season drawing to a close, and two ace pitchers set to become free agents this winter, what’s next for the Astros?
1. Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander is perhaps one of the best pitchers to ever play the game today. He’s amassed numerous awards throughout his career, most notably the 2017 World Series Title, the two Cy Young Awards, and the MVP. JV has spent his career with both the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros. Verlander missed most of the 2020 season and all of the 2021 season thanks to Tommy John Surgery, but he is poised to hit the market come winter.
The best-case scenario for the Astros is that they keep JV, however since he is coming off of his second TJ surgery, and with his advanced age, it is rather risky to offer him a lengthy contract. If I were to guess, given how the starting rotation has been in JV’s absence, if James Click were to resign the veteran, it most likely would be a max of two years.
The worst-case scenario for the Astros is that JV will enter free agency. Given his age and recent injury, it’s unlikely that another ballclub would give him a massive contract, but there is one team that will without a doubt be favorites to sign the ace, the Detroit Tigers.
A reunion between Detroit and Verlander might be an actuality given that Detroit is where his Hall of Fame career started. Detroit will look to target free agents this offseason after an impressive season led by first-year manager A.J Hinch, who also managed JV in Houston from 2017-19.
Zack Greinke has been around the league for a while, 18 years to be exact. During his time in the league, he’s won a CY Young award, been a six-time all-star, and has won six gold gloves. Like Verlander, Greinke is also set to become a free agent this winter, will the Astros keep him?
The best option for the Astros in my opinion would be to let Greinke go. Greinke’s velocity on his pitches has steadily declined for some time to a point where he’s becoming too hittable. Granted, Greinke can be great at times, but with the youth that the Astros have lined up in the rotation, Greinke would be the odd man out.
Given his age and state of where his stats are declining, Greinke might consider retirement. Zack is someone who knows the game of baseball very well and could end up with a front-office job with another organization.
The worst scenario imaginable for the Astros would be to not resign him and have the rotation falter. However, given what they have accomplished so far without Verlander, and during Greinke’s time on the IL with arm soreness this season, Houston should be in great hands.
In my opinion, neither JV nor Greinke will stay in Houston. I predict that general manager James Click will let the two walk in order to free up some money in order to accomplish what really needs to be taken care of this offseason, resigning shortstop Carlos Correa. I fully predict the Tigers to sign Verlander and Greinke to retire. As for the Astros, if the rotation can stay healthy, they will still be a threat for years to come.
As always you can find me on Twitter @KeganCrawford.