After losing key players like Colby Rasmus (LF) and Jason Castro (C) to free agency after the 2016 season, the Astros are looking to pick up others to fill in those spots. Evan Gattis is the most obvious choice to take over the starting catcher’s duties.
Their first roster move of the offseason was made on November 3, claiming veteran outfielder Norichika Aoki off waivers from the Seattle Mariners (waived at the end of the regular season). If a player is waived, any team may claim him. If more than one team claims the player from waivers, the team with the weakest record in the player’s league gets preference. If no team in the player’s league claims him, the claiming team with the weakest record in the other league gets preference.
His left-handed bat with a high contact rate makes Aoki a reliable leadoff option for the Astros in 2017. The Japan native batted .283 with 24 doubles, four doubles, four homers and 28 RBIs with a .349 on-base percentage last season. Since the current lineup is loaded with power hitting right-handers, the addition of this “small ball” outfielder couldn’t be more of a blessing. As of now, Aoki is the number one option to start in left field but we could possibly see him in centerfield throughout the season. Complimenting George Springer in right, he provided solid defense with impressive range and a cannon for an arm.
There is still talk about finding new options at the starting pitcher position along with making corrections in the bullpen. Free agency is the only bag to pick out of for now.