Hello, Houston? Anybody home?! First, it was Jim Crane taking over as rogue general manager last year and wasting a ton of money on Jose Abreu and Rafael Montero on wildly above-market deals. The New York Yankees couldn't really laugh, because they finished 82-80 and got smacked by the 'Stros once again. Plus, Dana Brown took over as the Astros' GM and he's famously good.
The Texas Rangers saved Yankees fans from torture, though, and delivered the Astros yet another embarrassing playoff series loss in which they dropped all four games at home (the Nationals did it to them in the 2019 World Series). Hey, we'll take what we can get.
Looking ahead, there might be greener pastures for New York, too. For starters, the Yankees have Juan Soto. The Astros do not. Secondly, Houston needs to address two massive contract situations with Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman -- both of whom will be free agents after the 2024 season.
Doesn't help that they traded two of their top prospects away for ~1.5 years of Justin Verlander! That means you simply must preserve all the cost-controlled talent you have, right?
That's why, naturally, the next order of business for the Astros is ... trading Framber Valdez?! Excuse us? What's happening?
Yankees Rumors: Are Astros blowing up roster by listening to trade offers for Framber Valdez?
Per reports, the Astros aren't necessarily ready to trade Valdez, but they haven't exactly rebuffed anybody who's asked:
" The Houston Astros don’t plan to trade co-ace Framber Valdez, at least not this winter, but they are listening, with more than five teams already checking in on him."- Bob Nightengale, USA Today
Say what you want about Nightengale, but the man has been on top of it this offseason! And smart teams are always listening, regardless of who's being inquired about.
Then again, for a team like the Astros, it's hard to see why -- with 2024, as of this moment, perhaps being their final, bonafide year of contention -- Valdez being traded would make any sense. He's owed just $12 million in 2024 and is controllable through 2025. Wouldn't it be best to wait to see where you're at come the trade deadline? Or wait until next offseason when the fates of Altuve/Bregman/others are sealed?
Either way, you won't hear Yankees fans complaining (unless Valdez is moved to one of their division rivals). Something tells us Houston might be looking to trade Valdez to the NL so they can avoid him as much as humanly possible, so we may not need to worry about him coming to the AL East.
All we can gather is that the Astros might be gauging the market now to see what Valdez can eventually net them. Or that they might be looking to get ahead of replenishing their farm system after dealing outfielders Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford to the Mets.
Whatever they're thinking, as long as it involves Valdez pitching elsewhere, the Yankees can call that a massive potential advantage for 2024, as the path continues to clear in various unexpected ways.