Spring training site: The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Reporting dates: TBA, approximately Feb. 13 for pitchers and catchers.
2017 Record: 101-61 (Won World Series)
Pure Sports Network offseason power rankings: No. 1 (1st in AL West)
Projected batting order
- George Springer, CF
- Alex Bregman, 3B
- Jose Altuve, 2B
- Carlos Correa, SS
- Josh Reddick, RF
- Yulieski Gurriel, 1B
- Evan Gattis, DH
- Marwin Gonzalez, LF
- Brian McCann, C
- Justin Verlander, RHP
- Dallas Keuchel, LHP
- Lance McCullers, RHP
- Charlie Morton, RHP
- Brad Peacock, RHP
Newcomers: RHPs Joe Smith (free agent, CLE) and Hector Rondon (free agent, CHC) provide help in the bullpen. The Astros also had one of the most interesting Rule 5 picks in Anthony Gose. Gose was an outfielder who is now trying to make it as a lefthanded pitcher. He is likely a longshot to make the Astros 25-man roster, but scouts say he can throw 100 mph. The Rangers had planned to use him as a two-way player in the minors, where he hasn’t pitched above A-ball. If the Astros want to do the same, they will need to keep him on the major league roster or offer him back to Texas.
Key decision for spring: The bullpen was the only weakness as the Astros won the World Series last season. With 34 saves in the regular season, RHP Ken Giles probably has the inside track to the closer, but he almost disappeared in the postseason after a couple of rough outings. Even if Giles regains his job, the rest of the pen is being rebuilt from the ground up.
Moves they still need to make: The Astros got all of their key players back this year, but could still use a backup catcher and a lefty in the bullpen. Evan Gattis moves from catcher to primary DH, so they will likely look at a player like minor leaguer Max Stassi to backup Brian McCann rather than seek a free agent. Tony Sipp (0-1, 5.79 ERA in 2017) is the only lefty in the bullpen. With a lack of major-league ready lefties in the farm system, the Astros might still show some interest in free-agent LHPs Tony Watson or Brian Duensing as they look to finalize their spring roster.
2018 outlook: They can’t do any better than last year, and they ranked at the top of our offseason Power Rankings. The Astros attack a potential World Series hangover by bringing back essentially the exact same team. Certainly some top-performers will regress, but an entire year of Justin Verlander could be just the ticket they need to at least another easy win in the AL West.