The Astros will play with a designated hitter next year, when they move to the American League, so a significant part of their offseason involves acquiring a DH. That’s not the only challenge they face as a result of the league change.
“The hidden element of it is more on the pitching side,” general manager Jeff Luhnow told MLBTR. “It exposes any weaknesses that you might have either in your rotation or in your bullpen because there is no breathing room.”
The Astros will focus on adding depth throughout the pitching staff this offseason. That said, Luhnow doesn’t want to impede the development of players already in the organization who project as long-term contributors. Trades are in play, but the Astros are hesitant to surrender significant players.
“We’ve got some assets that other clubs are interested in, but they’re valuable for us because they help us win games in the short term and they’re cost controlled,” Luhnow said. “So the return would have to be significant to go down that path.”
Jed Lowrie, the 28-year-old shortstop who’s under team control through 2014, could be seen as a trade candidate, especially at a time that the market for free agent shortstops isn’t deep. However, Lowrie remains an important part of the Astros’ vision.
“We expect him to be our everyday shortstop and put up some pretty big numbers for us assuming he can make it through a whole season,” Luhnow said, noting that the Astros expect the shortstop to remain healthy in 2013.
Until the team completes the move to the AL, it'll be difficult to project its future revenues. While the Astros aren’t expected to bid for the market’s top few free agents, they could spend on select players. Multiyear free agent deals are an option for the Astros under the right circumstances, Luhnow said.