After falling short of repeating as World Series champions, the Houston Astros could be eyeing a massive shakeup.
Houston is reportedly talking to a pair of a pair of free-agent hitters in designated hitter Nelson Cruz and outfielder Michael Brantley, and the team's at least considering signing both of them, sources told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Houston also remains open to dealing former Gold Glove right fielder Josh Reddick, according to Rosenthal.
However, the Astros reportedly tried to deal Reddick earlier this offseason and didn't have much success. He's owed $26 million over the next two seasons, money that would likely have to be moved in order to sign one or both of Cruz and Brantley.
Reddick was typically excellent in right field in 2018, with six defensive runs saved. But the 31-year-old's bat slumped, as he slashed .242/.318/.400 (99 OPS+) over 134 games, compared to his personal best of .314/.363/.484 (130 OPS+) across the same amount of games in 2017.
Cruz's fearsome home-run stroke is well-suited to Minute Maid Park's inviting Crawford Boxes in left field, and he'd slot perfectly into the middle of their order as a DH. Brantley is a former doubles champion who'd bring a much-needed left-handed bat with on-base skills to the Astros' order; Rosenthal also reports that he's willing to play some first base for his next team.
The Astros do have some talented young players on the verge of the majors, including top outfield prospect Kyle Tucker, who debuted in the big leagues in 2018. However, Rosenthal reports that Tucker's presence on the roster wouldn't necessarily stop the team from signing a veteran outfielder such as Brantley.
The 31-year-old Brantley, who was named the AL's Comeback Player of the Year by his peers in November, has reportedly also attracted interest from the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, and Philadelphia Phillies, among others.