Astros general manager Dana Brown spoke with reporters at this week’s Winter Meetings. Most notably, the second-year baseball operations leader emphatically shot down speculation about the possibility of moving star third baseman Alex Bregman.
“We’re not interested in trading him,” Brown said (video provided by Chandler Rome of the Athletic). “I think Alex knows that and understands that based on our conversations, so I’m not worried one bit about the articles and the rumors. At the end of the day, Alex is a pillar here. … We’re trying to win here.”
That’s a rather firm rejection of any suggestion the Astros could look to deal the two-time All-Star before his final season under contract. Bregman will make $28.5MM next year and hit free agency going into his age-31 campaign. Bob Nightengale of USA Today wrote over the weekend that while the Houston organization wasn’t optimistic about the chances of another extension, they had no intention of trading him.
With Houston still firmly in win-now mode as they battle with the World Series champion Rangers (and perhaps the Mariners or Angels) atop the AL West, it’s an understandable course of action. Bregman remains an excellent player, hitting .262/.363/.441 with 25 home runs while appearing in 161 games last season. While his production has dropped from his MVP finalist level of 2018-19, he’s still one of the sport’s best third basemen.
Brown also discussed a few other matters. He noted the club received a fourth minor league option on right-hander Forrest Whitley (via Rome). The one-time top prospect is apparently being moved to relief, as he’ll compete for a bullpen spot in Spring Training. Brown indicated a few months ago that Houston would seek an additional option on Whitley, who has missed extended time in the minor leagues because of various injuries and a 2018 suspension for a violation of the drug program. Whitley has yet to make his major league debut despite being on the 40-man roster since 2020.
Upgrading the relief corps still seems a priority for a front office that saw each of Hector Neris, Ryne Stanek and Phil Maton hit free agency. Brown reiterated that bolstering the bullpen and adding a backup catcher remained offseason goals, although he hinted he might be cautious on the relief front. “I’m not interested in overpaying in the relief market,” he told the Houston beat (relayed by Brian McTaggart of MLB.com).