*The biggest news of January 2nd wasn't what the Astros got, but what they lost - specifically, Will Harris, to the Nationals for 3yrs/$24m.
So let's recap what the Astros lost this offseason (with 2019 fWAR in parentheses):
Gerrit Cole - 212.1IP (7.4 fWAR)
Wade Miley - 167.1IP (2.0 fWAR)
Collin McHugh - 74.2IP (0.5 fWAR)
Hector Rondon - 60.2IP (-0.2 fWAR)
Will Harris - 60IP (1.1 fWAR)
Not only is that 575IP that has to be replaced, that's right at 10.8 fWAR from a pitching staff that won 107 games. The total Astros' pitching fWAR was 23.7 in 2019, so that's 45.6% of their "value." Obviously most of this - the innings and the fWAR - are due to the departure of Gerrit Cole to the greener pastures of north Manhattan and shaved heads, track suits, gold chains, and getting booed when he doesn't win the World Series in April. And don't get me wrong, combining McHugh and Rondon (135.1IP and an aggregate 0.3 fWAR) is mainly an exercise in counting innings. But that's a lot of attrition to a pitching staff that lost 500IP after 2018 with the departures of Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, and the injury to Lance McCullers.
Of course McCullers is coming back in 2020. Forrest Whitley might actually have his head on straight this time around. But let's not forget that, in five seasons, Will Harris threw 297IP, allowed 221H/78ER, 315K:72BB, a 2.36 ERA / 0.99 WHIP. In 2019 Harris posted a 1.50 ERA / 0.93 WHIP. He made 68 appearances and threw a clean outing in 32 of them. The opponent did not score a run in 60 of those outings. When he did allow a run, he only allowed more than one run in two of his 68 appearances.
Harris, on watching the Nationals receive their World Series rings:
Will it be awkward for a second or two? More than likely, but that stuff fades and it's about playing baseball. I've done my homework, and the guys they have that I know who have played there and been there, everybody has told me I'm going to love it.
Now, it would be remiss to...miss that Harris pitched in 2015 ALDS G4. He allowed a run in Games 6 & 7 of the World Series, including Howie Kendrick's Fing Miracle Home Run. But in between 2015 ALDS G4 and 2019 WS G6 he threw 14IP in the postseason, allowing 12H/2ER, 14K:3BB.
But hey, the Astros didn't have to add $8m to a currently-projected payroll of $216m. Adding Harris at $8m per year would have resulted in the Astros paying a penalty of [squints] $3.2m instead of the $1.6m they're already projected to pay (assuming Josh Reddick is still an Astro in 2020). As a Jim Crane Bottom-Line Lover, this is fiiiiiiiine. [I know full well that Crane opened up for Verlander, Greinke, Altuve, Bregman, etc. and deserves credit for that].
Chandler Rome writes that replacing Harris may be impossible.
*Robinson Chirinos is "close" to making a decision on where to play in 2020.
*Jake Kaplan writes in The Athletic about the Astros "questionable" rotation depth and who can be the 5th starter behind Verlander, Greinke, McCullers, and presumably Game 4 Hero Jose Urquidy.
*MLB Pipeline says Jeremy Pena (3rd Round - 2018) is set to break out in 2020.
*Baseball America has the Astros' Top 10 prospects in 2020:
1. Forrest Whitley
2. Game 4 Hero Jose Urquidy
3. Jeremy Pena
4. Freudis Nova
5. Bryan Abreu
6. Abraham Toro
7. Korey Lee
8. Cristian Javier
9. Hunter Brown
10. Grae Kessinger
Let the record show that I LOVE Cristian Javier, who will be 23 in 2020 and struck out 170 batters in 113.2IP for Fayetteville, Corpus, and Round Rock.
*Why would Yankees pitcher Domingo German not appeal his 81-game suspension for domestic violence?
*Rich Roll is the guru of reinvention.
*A Musical Selection: