Hell-bent. That’s a bit of a strong word to use, to describe a team’s pursuit of a player…no?
Clubs talking to Astros say they seem “hell-bent to get a closer.” Checked in on Chapman, Miller, Giles, Boxberger, plus free-agent options
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) November 21, 2015
Well, that’s the exact word that ESPN’s Jayson Stark used in his tweet over the weekend. Stark went on to note, that the club has “checked-in” on guys like Cincinnati Red’ closer Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees’ closer Andrew Miller, and Philadelphia Phillies’ closer Ken Giles.
Chapman’s name has been thrown around in the rumor mill, dating back to July’s trade deadline. The Astros were said to be one of the teams involved in the pursuit of the flamethrower. While nothing materialized out of negations in July, it was widely expected that Houston would re-visit talks in the offseason. The 27-year-old has made quite a name for himself since signing with the Reds back in 2010. In his four seasons as full-time Reds’ closer, he’s never recorded less than 33 saves. He’s also never recorded less than 70 strikeouts in a single season.
Probably the most interesting name on this list is Giles. The 25-year-old flamethrower has really emerged quite quickly as a cog in the back of the Phillies’ bullpen. In his first season, Giles was primarily a set-up man for former closer Jonathan Papelbon. He recorded a single save, en route to a 1.18 ERA, and 64 strikeouts. Following Papelbon’s departure at the trade deadline in July, Giles took over as the everyday closer for the team. He recorded 15 saves following the move and recorded a 1.80 ERA. It’s been widely speculated that the Phils would deal Giles this offseason, allowing the youngster a chance to perform for a perennial World Series contender. Joining an Astros team that is full of youth would allow Giles the opportunity to not only evolve as a closer, but mature as a unit with his teammates.
The weirdest name on this list is Andrew Miller. Miller, 30, signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the Yankees last offseason. Not even one year after he signed, the former Red Sox is on the trade market. Miller has spent practically all of his career as a set-up man, before making the jump to the Bronx Bombers. In his first season in pinstripes, Miller recorded 36 saves, while posting an ERA just a tick over 2.00. The southpaw has spent his 10 year MLB career with a total of five teams (Tigers, Marlins, Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles), and seems primed to begin his 11th season with a sixth team. Whether it’s the Houston Astros or not, only time will tell.
I’m usually not one to speculate, but it would make sense if Houston was to deal from their position of strength, which happens to be their rotation. An abundance of young arms, including Dallas Keuchel, Colin McHugh, Vincent Velasquez, and Lance McCullers, in addition to veterans like Scott Kazmir and Scott Feldman, have provided the Astros with a fair amount of depth in their rotation. With the pending emergence of former first-round pick Mark Appel, the Astros will suddenly have a glut of young rotation arms. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be surprised if the Astros dangled Colin McHugh as bait for a top closer.
With the Hot Stove heating up, the Astros have become the center of the rumor mill. Whether it’s talks of a contract extension for AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, their rumored pursuit of a top-flight arm to pair with Keuchel, or their desire to add a closer to the fold. The Houston Astros seem well-positioned to be in the spotlight, all winter long.