After failures in 2019 & 2021, the Houston Astros knocked off the Phillies in the World Series to win the franchise’s second title. The Astros are set up well for the immediate future, but there’s always room for improvement. So, how did the Astros tweak the roster for 2023? Well, adding a former MVP can’t hurt.
- 1B José Abreu
So, what does a team that just won the World Series look to do in order to improve for next season? Well, first take a look at any glaring holes on the roster. At the Trade Deadline this past summer, Houston picked up both a first baseman (Trey Mancini) and catcher (Christian Vázquez) to add depth and address positions of weakness. However, both Mancini and Vázquez provided less-than-stellar results with the Astros before the two entered free agency in November. Houston didn’t do anything this winter for behind the plate, leaving Martin Maldonado and prospect Korey Lee as the two probable catchers for 2023.
The Astros did upgrade at first base, as former AL MVP José Abreu will join a loaded lineup. Abreu is still among the game’s elite hitters, as the soon-to-be 36-year-old hit .304 and cracked 55 extra base hits in Chicago last season. From 2020-22, Abreu stood in the top 20 of the league (min. 1,000 PA) in total extra base hits (151) and OBP (.367).
- SS Aledmys Díaz
- 1B/DH Yuli Gurriel
- RHP Josh James
- 1B/DH Trey Mancini
- LHP Will Smith
- C Christian Vázquez
- RHP Justin Verlander
Traditionally, teams that win championships generally cede key players after it’s all said and done. However, Houston did a fine job of stemming the losses. The Astros did re-sign reliever Rafael Montero, who turned into a key piece of Houston’s bullpen last season. OF/DH and veteran leader Michael Brantley will bring his sweet-swinging ways back to H-Town, as he inked a one-year deal to return for 2023.
There were, however, some notable losses. Aside from the aforementioned Mancini and Vázquez, Houston lost utilityman Alemdys Diaz and first baseman Yuli Gurriel. Gurriel’s numbers nosedived in 2022 after the 38-year-old won the AL batting title in 2021. But, Gurriel could come back to Houston in 2023. Reports have circulated indicating that the ‘Stros are still interested in bringing the infielder back for this season.
Houston did also lose the team’s staff ace and reigning AL Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander to the Mets. Verlander dominated hitters last season, as the righty led the league in both ERA and WHIP.
Houston may have lost Verlander, but the Astros still a strong rotation lead by Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, and Luis Garcia. Plus, the defending champions also bring back arguably the best lineup in baseball — one that may very well be better next season with the addition of slugger José Abreu. The Astros are in good position to make a run towards a second World Series title.