*The Astros and Rangers are checking in on catcher and Former Astros Great Jason Castro, according to Jon Morosi.
*The Rule 5 Draft is today, because the Winter Meetings would have - in any other year - been this week. I guess the Winter Meetings still happened, but, like, all on Zoom. And I guarantee you the Mets talked for at least 90 seconds on Zoom before having to be told that their mic was muted. The Astros have the 15th pick in the Rule 5 Draft.
*MLB.com's Must-Watch Topic for the Astros is whether or not they can re-sign Springer. "Can" they, and "Will" they, or "Does Springer even want to stay in Houston?" are also other ways to ask that question. The Mets are "engaged" with George Springer.
*Will Leitch has Jose Altuve as the Astros' prime bounce-back candidate in 2021.
*Brian McTaggart has the Astros' Top Five Winter Meetings moves.
*As Major League Baseball continues its full-frontal assault on the fabric of the sport itself, the Astros announced their minor-league affiliates for 2021 and beyond: Sugar Land (Triple-A), Corpus (Double-A), adding Asheville (High-A), which is replacing Fayetteville (Low-A) at that level. Asheville - one of the more historic minor-league franchises - was actually an Astros' affiliate in 1967, 1982 and 1983, but had been a Colorado affiliate since 1994. I guess in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter, but I'm surprised that Fayetteville (who has a year-old stadium) got dropped a level. Fare thee well Tri-City and Quad Cities. Jake Kaplan has a good breakdown of how the Astros' minor-league affiliates are structured now.
The future of the Lancaster Jethawks, a Former Astros Great Affiliate, is in limbo.
*Joe Smith talked about his decision to sit out the 2020 season, returning in 2021, and the passing of his mother in August.
*Dusty Baker is the guest on tonight's Astroline.
*SI: Do the White Sox have baseball's best rotation?
*Pitchfork: Why do we even listen to new music?
*ESPN's Sam Khan on the demise of the Southwestern Conference, 25 years later.
*Ars Technica: Meet the new generation of puzzle-makers bringing mystery to your door.
*Hot Links are going to be hit or miss for a little bit as soon I'll actually about to be able to start writing a manuscript I've spent seven years researching, on Andrew Jackson's 1833 guano-crazy tour of New England. My goal is to be done with it before the 2021 season starts, and then I can blow you up on social media asking you to pre-order my book.
*A Musical Selection: