The 2021-22 MLB offseason is a few weeks old and we're still waiting for the first major move to happen. That's not unusual -- like the MLB season itself, the offseason is a marathon rather than a sprint -- though the impending expiration of the collective bargaining agreement throws a giant wrench into the hot stove. Still, baseball's offseason is underway.
With that in mind, we're going to examine each prospective buyer's offseason wish list over the next few days, continuing with the Houston Astros. Let's get to it.
You might've heard by now that Carlos Correa is a free agent. (Indeed, CBS Sports ranked him as the top available free agent earlier this winter.) The Astros have reportedly made an offer to him already, but the terms seem well below what he should net on the open market. Shy of moving Alex Bregman to short, Houston's best internal play at the moment would be Aledmys Díaz; obviously that isn't going to work. Top prospect (and potential Correa heir) Jeremy Peña was limited to 37 games last season because of injury, suggesting he won't be ready until the summertime, at earliest. Houston is a safe bet to go outside the organization for its Opening Day shortstop.
Wish list: Retaining Correa has to be the No. 1 item on the list. If the Astros deem his demands too rich for their tastes, they could shift their focus to a downmarket option, with Trevor Story serving as the ideal candidate. Beyond that, it's possible that Peña's impending arrival convinces Houston all they need is a stopgap type, à la Andrelton Simmons, whose weak bat wouldn't serve as a huge anchor given the quality of the rest of Houston's lineup.
The Astros are set to lose veteran Zack Greinke to free agency, and they have to have some concerns about Lance McCullers Jr.'s status given what transpired during the postseason. Houston does, technically, already have six starting pitchers on its roster, in Justin Verlander, McCullers, Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, José Urquidy, and Jake Odorizzi. They also have potential mid-rotation prospect Hunter Brown nearing The Show, along with a number of back-end prospects to store in Triple-A. The Astros should still probably take a swing for some upside as the market allows them to during the course of the winter.
Wish list: Retaining Verlander was a sensible enough decision. The two recently agreed on a one-year, $25 million deal. Beyond him, it would track if they decided to take a swing on Jon Gray, Dylan Bundy, or someone of that ilk who they believe they can tease more from. Here's a fun, if perhaps overzealous suggestion: trading for Tyler Glasnow wouldn't offer immediate help, but general manager James Click is familiar with him from their shared days in Tampa Bay and it's the kind of bold move the Astros should pursue.
Click has attempted to address Houston's bullpen several times over the past year. He signed Pedro Báez and Ryne Stanek last winter, then traded for Kendall Graveman, Phil Maton, and Rafael Montero during the season. Every contender is a safe bet to add a reliever or two during the offseason. The Astros, who could lose Graveman and Brooks Raley to free agency, are no exception.
Wish list: The Astros will presumably forgo the top of the relief market in favor of some mid-tier types they like. That could lead them to add any number of outcomes, ranging from retaining Raley and Graveman to inking less-famous names like Mychal Givens or Daniel Norris who they believe they can unlock something with. The relief market is often just a game of musical chairs, so good luck pinning down exact names.