'We're not finished': Jim Crane reveals Astros' free agency priorities

Houston added a big bat to its lineup this week, but the World Series champs aren't done yet.

Photo of Josh Criswell
Yuli Gurriel #10 of the Houston Astros rounds second base against the Philadelphia Phillies during the second inning in Game Three of the 2022 World Series at Citizens Bank Park on November 01, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Yuli Gurriel #10 of the Houston Astros rounds second base against the Philadelphia Phillies during the second inning in Game Three of the 2022 World Series at Citizens Bank Park on November 01, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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The Houston Astros announced the signing of a former MVP in Jose Abreu this week, but it doesn't appear the franchise has any plans to rest on its laurels.

Astros owner Jim Crane discussed what's next for the 2022 World Series champions during Abreu's introductory press conference on Tuesday. His response indicates that Houston won't be passive in its free agency pursuits.

Crane referenced re-signing 2022 AL Cy Young Justin Verlander and first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who would likely move into more of a utility role with Abreu's arrival, as two possibilities.

"We're active. We'll stay active in the market," Crane said. "Certainly, Yuli is in the mix. As I mentioned before, Verlander is in the mix. We're looking at other options, so we're not finished. We like our team. Pitching is strong, this adds another bat, but we think we can improve a little bit more."

When asked about the Astros' most pressing needs now that a void has been filled at first base, Crane said "we have to look at the catching and maybe another outfielder, and you never have enough pitching. I think those are the spots that are very obvious."

Veteran catcher Martin Maldonado is under contract for next year, but midseason acquisition Christian Vazquez is a free agent. All-Stars Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker have the corner outfield spots locked down, but center field—where Chas McCormick started in the postseason—and overall depth remain questions.

As far as pitching, the Astros have already re-signed standout reliever Rafael Montero, but Verlander's fate appears uncertain at the moment. Verlander has reportedly been in free agency discussions with several teams recently, with Crane stating Tuesday that he hasn't "visited with him lately."

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