The Astros won the 2017 and 2022 World Series. It’s not enough to make them a dynasty, but the club is set up to build one.
The 2022 Houston Astros had the perfect combination of individual and team attributes to win it all.
They were second in Major League Baseball in ERA, first in quality starts, fourth in home runs, and struck out the second-fewest times. If you hit for power while making elite contact, you’re going to score a ton of runs. If your starters go deep into games, your bullpen is more rested and will be able to dominate in October. The Astros checked all the boxes in their inevitable playoff run, going 11-2 in the postseason and winning it all.
But let’s put this silly Astros dynasty talk to rest. This isn’t the Olympics, where top-three results are celebrated in perpetuity. This isn’t college basketball, where a semifinal appearance is enough to earn a banner. Teams become dynasties after winning championships. And while making the World Series four times in six years is impressive, it doesn’t make you a dynasty, even as the playoffs continue to expand. The last MLB dynasty was the San Francisco Giants, who won three titles in five years, yet never two in a row. An Astros title next year would be three in seven, but two in a row would get them closer.
Luckily for Houston, it has all the components necessary to get there. The Astros’ list of free agents is small and largely spares all their players of significant value.
Here are their upcoming free agents of note:
- Michael Brantley, who registered 1.3 bWAR in his age 35 season
- Aledmys Diaz, who had a 1.0 bWAR in his age 32 season
- 35-year-old below-replacement-level catcher Jason Castro
- Martin Maldonado, who had a negative WAR, but the Astros may retain him, given his rapport with the pitching staff
- Fan favorite Yuli Gurriel, who had a negative WAR in his age 38 season
- Rafael Montero, who was valuable for the Astros out of the bullpen with a 1.3 WAR, but is largely replaceable
Elsewhere, Justin Verlander has a $25 million player option after an age 39 season that will likely result in a Cy Young. He should be back one way or another. Houston has a $13 million option on Will Smith, which it likely won’t pick up, and a $10 million mutual option on midseason acquisition Trey Mancini, which should prove valuable if Gurriel isn’t back in 2023.
With just $14.5 million in dead money, the Astros are in good financial shape, even with Yordan Alvarez‘s six-year, $115 million contract extension (which is a steal) kicking in next season and expected pay bumps in arbitration. Those slated to get well-earned raises that don’t reflect their true market value include Kyle Tucker, Christian Javier, Jose Urquidy, Framber Valdez, Josh James, Phil Maton, and Ryne Stanek.
Houston doesn’t have to break the bank on anyone in free agency to contend in 2023. The Astros are already favored to win the American League on FanDuel SportsBook, but can still upgrade at first base/DH and the outfield to replace Gurriel and Brantley, while bolstering the bullpen. Tucker is a free agent after 2023 and Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman are free agents after 2024, but the next two seasons are still well within the Astros’ title window.
That window is wide open, but the Astros can still go after a big-time free agent to solidify their chances. The opportunity to win another title is there for the taking, and so is a Houston Astros dynasty.
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