Astros interested in perfect replacement for Framber Valdez

The Houston Astros are making a player for arguably the top free agent pitcher available.

Framber Valdez going down with a fractured finger is a huge blow to the Houston Astros rotation. To put it frank — the Astros pitching is a weak spot at the moment. They failed to fully solidify their bullpen, though that’s not where the weakness now lies. Should Valdez miss significant time, as his first doctor’s opinion suggested, the Astros will now be without two of their top pitchers for the majority of the season.

While Zack Greinke remains, Justin Verlander and Valdez being out means Houston needs to find pitching depth before it’s too late. Enter Jake Odorizzi, a solid free agent starter who is looking smarter by the minute for waiting out for his contract of choice.

Astros rumors: Houston is interested in free agent starter Jake Odorizzi

Jon Heyman of MLB Network has the scoop on Houston’s interest in Odorizzi. Per Heyman, “Astros are among teams looking at Jake Odorizzi — not a surprise since Framber Valdez will miss significant time (as much of the year) after suffering a broken finger. At least a few teams are involved and Houston may have luxury tax considerations (they’re about $13M under now).”

As Heyman points out, the Astros are up against the luxury tax. While it’s not a hard cap, after last year’s financial losses, owner Jim Crane may not want to spend the necessary millions to bring in another pitcher to contend this year. Odorizzi might have to meet the Astros halfway, which is a bold strategy given interest in the free agent starter will only increase as more injuries strike contending teams in spring training.

Odorizzi only started four games last year due to injury, but in 2019 he sported a 15-7 overall record, with a 3.51 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. Those are elite numbers for a middle of the rotation starter. If contenders believe he can match that production in 2021 — which the market is suggesting he can — then the Astros will be forced to pay up should they wish to bring him into the fold.