Ahead of Kansas City Royals free agency, let’s take a look at the Houston Astros’ upcoming free agents and decide whether the team should pursue any.
Welcome to the continuation of our “Kansas City Royals: Making the case” series for free agency. For the second time in three years, the Houston Astros made it to the World Series. Although they couldn’t seal the deal against the Washington Nationals, it was still a season to remember for AJ Hinch‘s squad. Winning a franchise-record 107 games, expectations will once again be sky-high heading into 2020.
With that said, the Astros have a multitude of free agency decisions to make in regards to their in-house candidates. Per Spotrac’s official list, there are nine names to consider. Are any of them worth the Royals pursuing? Let’s find out.
Gerrit Cole, P
A candidate for the American League’s Cy Young award, Cole held the ERA title in 2019. Going 20-5 with 326 strikeouts, understating his dominance would be pretty difficult to do. He’ll command possibly a record salary this offseason, which doesn’t sound like something the Kansas City Royals would be on board with. Unless new owner John Sherman wants to make the biggest splash in franchise history, Cole pitching in Kauffman Stadium is nothing but a pipe dream — unless it’s for a road game.
Verdict: Pass (but come on, we’re all hoping for a miracle)
Joe Smith, P
Smith has been a consistently solid reliever over the course of his career. Boasting a career ERA+ of 136 and still going strong at 35, he’ll be a sought-after free agent target this offseason. With that said, he’s a bit old for the Royals’ standards. The last two statements are why Dayton Moore probably won’t go after Smith.
McHugh was absolutely phenomenal in 2018 with Houston, but came back down to earth this past season. Heading into a season in which he’ll turn 33, he’s a solid bounce-back candidate. Moore can bring him in on a one-year contract but other than that, he can probably pass on McHugh.
Chirinos is a low-end starter even at 35, but plays a position the Royals are more than content at with Salvador Perez set to return from a torn UCL next year.
Wade Miley, P
Miley brought up the back end of Houston’s rotation in 2019, posting a 3.98 ERA and winning 14 games in the process. A 4.51 FIP indicates a bit of good luck may have been in play and a track record filled with inconsistency doesn’t bode particularly well. Miley will turn 33 soon, adding to the list of reasons why the Royals can probably pass.
A Venezuelan-born reliever, Rondon has spent time with just two teams in his seven-year career. Having posted an ERA well under 4.00 in each of the last two seasons (3.71, 3.20), he’ll be in line for another solid contract this offseason. Much like with McHugh, the Royals will be fine without him but could also benefit from his services on a short-term commitment.
Will Harris, P
Harris was flat-out dominant with the Astros in 2019, allowing just 10 runs in 60 innings pitched. Adding in 62 strikeouts and a 309 ERA+, the 35-year-old was terrific. Because of that, though, he won’t be on our radar.
That ship has sailed. Kansas City can get production similar to Maldonado’s from a backup currently in the organization.
Houston declined its $2,825,000 option for Devenski ahead of the 2020 campaign. The righty reliever’s performance has slowly declined over his first four years in the league, ending with a 2019 season in which the former 25th-round pick posted a 4.83 ERA. He’s eligible for arbitration this winter and will probably remain an Astro. If he doesn’t, Moore should take a flyer on him. Set to turn 29 later this month, Devenski could rebound in 2020 and beyond.