Astros in the hunt for starters

If what Bob Nightengale of USA Today said on Twitter is true, the Astros are shooting for the stars with their latest targets in trade talks. The rumor is that Houston is in the market for a high-end starter, so they’re trying to bring in one of either Jose Quintana, Chris Archer, or Sonny Gray.

Quintana, Archer, and Gray have been at the center of trade rumors all winter, so it’s not really a big shock that a team with aspirations of returning to the postseason like the Astros would be trying to snag one. It also helps that the Astros have the assets to pick up one of them. The big question is whether the Astros are willing to pay what would probably be a huge price.

Chicago has gotten some hefty returns on both Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, so they no doubt have similar aspirations for Quintana. The Rays reportedly have a huge asking price for Archer. That leaves Gray, whose asking price likely fell following a rough 2016. Still, you have to imagine that Oakland would want to wait and see if Gray’s poor season—which included his DRA going up to 3.92 from 3.43 in 2015, his cFIP going up from 87 to 93, and his WARP going down from 4.1 to 1.9—was just a bump in a smooth career road.

Again, it makes plenty of sense that the Astros are in the market for one of these three pitchers, but there appear to be plenty of obstacles in the way when it comes to reaching the cosmos in order to acquire a high-end arm.

Molitor wants Twins to add vets

It’s been a quiet offseason for the rebuilding Twins, but that doesn’t mean they’re finished working this winter. In fact, some of their holiday decorations are still up, and they’re apparently waiting for baseball Santa to deliver some veteran presence under their roster’s tree (I’m sorry). According to LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Twins manager Paul Molitor has made it known that he’d like some veterans added to the roster.

At this point in the offseason—considering where the Twins are on the totem pole right now—they probably aren’t going to find an impact player to help them, but they could probably find an outfielder who fits the bill of providing a positive veteran influence. Neal brought up names like Chris Coghlan, Ryan Rayburn, and Brandon Moss as possible candidates, and although the Twins appear to have plenty of designated hitter options Justin Morneau’s name also came up.

Canada goes down memory lane for pitching

One thing that will help to make this offseason feel a bit shorter is the upcoming World Baseball Classic. The competing nations are starting to fill out their rosters and one team that’s building a particularly interesting one is the crew in Canada. Even though Joey Votto won’t be playing, they’ve still got names like the aforementioned Justin Morneau, Freddie Freeman, Russell Martin, and John Axford. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet let us know earlier this week that they’d also have two big names from the past: Ryan Dempster and Eric Gagne.

It’s one thing to see 39-year-old Dempster making a return. He hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2013, but finished that tear with a 3.66 DRA and a 107 cFIP over 171.3 innings and is only a few years away from the game. It’s another thing entirely to see the 41-year-old Gagne attempting to make a return to pitching at a high level. He was last seen in the bigs with the Brewers back in 2008, and only retired in 2010 after a failed comeback with the Dodgers.

It’s shocking to see both of these players attempting to make a return to baseball at any level—much less one where they could potentially run into major league-caliber hitting. Canada may not be assembling a roster that will be feared at the WBC, but they’re definitely building a crew that should be fun to keep an eye on, if only to see how the various assemblage of parts will work together. If a miracle occurs and it works, then the Canadians just might be the flavour of the month in March.

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