Houston Astros

5 offseason moves the Houston Astros can make to get back to the World Series

The Houston Astros may have lost the World Series, but with another sharp offseason, they can be right back there again next season.

Game 7 of the World Series turned in the blink of an eye for the Houston Astros. One minute, they were cruising behind starter Zack Greinke who was twirling a one-hitter. The next, they were down 3-2. Three batters, three runs for the Washington Nationals and zero titles for the Astros.

After trading for Greinke at the deadline in July, the Astros became the odds-on favorites to win their second World Series in three years. They went down 2-0 but roared back to take a 3-2 lead with the series heading home. Justin Verlander and Greinke were slated to start the final two games, with ace Gerrit Cole available to help close out Game 7.

We may never fully know what was going through manager A.J. Hinch’s head when he pulled Greinke after only 80 pitches and two hits allowed or whether or not Cole was actually available in that fateful seventh inning that made the Nationals champions. The Astros and their fans are left to sift through the fallout of what now feels like an entirely wasted season.

The Astros have built such a machine that they still have to be viewed as the favorites to claim the American League pennant again next season. That’s not to say they don’t have some difficult decisions to make this offseason. Houston’s home-grown position player core is getting expensive and their vaunted three-ace rotation is in danger of being broken up with Cole said to prefer the West Coast. The Astros have to make a strong offer to re-sign the right-hander, but it feels like a longshot. Along with doing everything in their power to bring back the young ace, here are the most important moves the Astros need to make this offseason to guarantee another trip to the World Series in 2020.

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 27: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning during Game 5 of the 2019 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on Sunday, October 27, 2019 in Washington, District of Columbia. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

5. Re-sign Gerrit Cole

This one is likely a long shot, so that’s why it’s listed at number five. In a perfect world, the Astros would love to be able to re-sign ace right-hander Gerrit Cole, but it may not happen. It has been reported that Cole’s preference is to return home to California, with ESPN’s Buster Olney citing the Los Angeles Angels as the odds-on favorites. The 29-year-old grew up 10 minutes from Angels Stadium.

In two years with the Astros, Cole couldn’t possibly have done more to convince ownership of his worthiness of a record-breaking contract. The right-hander could shatter David Price’s record for biggest contract ($217 million), as well as Houston teammate Justin Verlander’s record for highest annual salary ($33 million). His chances of breaking both records will increase if the New York Yankees get seriously involved in the bidding, as expected.

If the Astros are able to re-sign Cole, they will enter 2020 as the overwhelming World Series favorites. They will continue to have the best rotation and lineup in baseball and an ability to overwhelm teams on all fronts. Keeping Cole now also helps answer some of the team’s long-term rotation questions, with Verlander and Zack Greinke both over the age of 36.

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