Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow has made another move this offseason, adding a potential Hall of Fame baseball player to a lineup previously filled with young, talented, and inexperienced hitters. With the addition of Carlos Beltran, the Astros look to be poised to mash some baseballs in 2017.
Beltran, a 39 year-old switch hitter, has produced staggering offensive numbers in his 18 year major league career. In total, he currently has 421 home runs, 1536 RBIs, 536 doubles, and 2,617 hits in his illustrious career. These numbers do not even mention his career slash line of .281/.354/.492 while playing for the Royals, Astros, Mets, Cardinals, Giants, Yankees, and Rangers.
Long-time fans of the Houston Astros will of course remember Beltran for his historic 2004 postseason with the club, when he hit .455 with four home runs and 9 RBIs against the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS followed by a .417 batting average with another four home runs and five RBIs against the Cardinals in the NLCS. This postseason run is regarded by many as the best postseason for a hitter in Astros postseason history, potentially even one of the best of all time.
For 2017, the Astros have done a great job of adding veteran hitters to a young club. Now, the club has three left-handed hitters in Beltran, Brian McCann, and Josh Reddick who can not only provide great leadership, but also drive in runs in the middle of an order that is behind young stars like Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Carlos Correa.
As far as the details of the contract, the Astros gave Beltran $16 million on a one-year deal that includes a full no-trade clause. When you try to analyze the contract closely, it looks very similar to the qualifying offer that the Astros gave Colby Rasmus last offseason, with the main difference being that Rasmus' no-trade clause only lasted through June while Beltran's extends through the entire season.
For the rest of the offseason, it seems that the Astros will now turn to pitching as their main area of need. This pas week, there were many rumors that the club was in on slugger Edwin Encarnacion, and at some point people believed that the two sides had reached an agreement. Now, it seems that the Astros will remove themselves from the Encarnacion sweepstakes.
Just a few minutes ago, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported that for now the Astros are no longer in the running for White Sox ace Chris Sale, as the asking price is simply far too high at the moment. This does not mean that the club is satisfied with their current rotation, as the team has been rumored to be pursuing Rich Hill, and there are other pitchers available around the league like Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Sonny Gray, and perhaps even Justin Verlander.
Overall, Astros fans will have mixed feelings about the signing of Beltran due to his contentious departure in 2004. However, it is important that fans realize it is now 2017, and Beltran will add great value to this team at the plate and in the clubhouse. Now, let's see what Luhnow has up his sleeve for the Winter Meetings.