Houston Astros: What’s on their post-lockout to-do list

Oct 22, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker Jr. (12) celebrates after defeating the Boston Red Sox to advance to the World Series after game six of the 2021 ALCS at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 22, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker Jr. (12) celebrates after defeating the Boston Red Sox to advance to the World Series after game six of the 2021 ALCS at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports /
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LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 22: Kevin Pillar #11 of the New York Mets bats during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 22, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. The Mets defeated the Dodgers 7-2. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 22: Kevin Pillar #11 of the New York Mets bats during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 22, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. The Mets defeated the Dodgers 7-2. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

The Houston Astros need to find a solid fourth outfielder

While “reserve outfielder” may not stand out as one of the more important roles on a baseball team, all clubs need to have a backup outfielder that can play all three positions and is capable of being a defensive replacement or injury replacement.

Outfielder Jake Meyers, widely expected to be the club’s starting center fielder on Opening Day in 2022, suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder in Game 4 of the ALDS back in October. He did not appear in another postseason contest and is currently slated to miss a good portion of 2022 as well.

While the Astros have Kyle Tucker on hand as a capable center fielder, Chas McCormick is currently atop the depth chart. McCormick, 26, appeared in 108 contests for the club last season, putting up 2.3 WAR (0.9 oWAR and 1.2 dWAR) and hitting 10 home runs in 320 plate appearances. He looks to be a lock in center with Tucker and Jose Siri as a backup.

In left, veteran Michael Brantley is slated to get the vast majority of the starts with Yordan Alvarez somewhat capable of playing the position as well as infielders Aledmys Diaz and Taylor Jones in a pinch. Kyle Tucker will be the team’s starting right fielder, but, beyond that, the depth is pretty thin.

Looking at the current free agent market, there aren’t a whole lot of All Star-level players left. Odubel Herrera is available as well as Kevin Pillar, both are solid defenders capable of playing all three outfield spots as well as possessing double-digit home run potential and speed on the basepaths.

One interesting candidate to consider is Kris Bryant. A third baseman by trade, he became something of a super-utility player last season for the Cubs and Giants and could be a dark horse pick to join the Houston Astros outfield. One way or another, the ‘Stros need some insurance in the outfield.