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Astros missing on Willson Contreras could heighten pursuit of these targets

After watching catcher Willson Contreras sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, there’s a sense of which free agents the Houston Astros will target next.

The Houston Astros won their second World Series title this past season, and they showed that they still plan on contending in the very near future. Their biggest move this offseason so far is signing former Chicago White Sox first baseman and 2020 AL MVP Jose Abreu to a three-year contract. the Astros were in need of a catcher, but watched as one of their reported targets come off the board.

On Wednesday, the St. Louis Cardinals and former Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras agreed to terms on a five-year, $87.5 million contract. It was a move the Cardinals needed to make, since Yadier Molina retired after the 2022 season.

For those wondering where Houston could pivot to next, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal provided some insight, saying that the Astros “continue to look at” Andrew Benintendi, Michael Brantley, and Michal Conforto. In fact, Rosenthal says that since the Astros lost out on Contreras, “they might even explore signing two of the three.”

Astros looking at three outfield free agents

Brantley was one of Houston’s big offseason moves after the 2018 season, and he helped the team make it to the World Series in 2019 and 2021. However, he suffered a right-shoulder injury that limited him to 64 games. This past season, Brantley recorded a .288 batting average, a .785 OPS, five home runs, 26 RBI, and 70 hits.

Benintendi was one of the big trade deadline acquisitions this past season. After making the move from the Kansas City Royals to the New York Yankees, Benintendi recorded a .254 batting average, a .331 on-base percentage, a .404 slugging percentage, two home runs, 12 RBI, 14 runs scored and 29 hits in 33 games. He was sidelined for the remainder of the year after fracturing the hook of his hamate bone.

Conforto became a free agent after the 2021 season, but he didn’t sign with another team after undergoing shoulder surgery this past April. In the 2021 campaign, Conforto slashed .232/.344/.384 while recording 14 home runs, 55 RBI, and 94 hits.

After losing out on Contreras, the Astros appear to be tackling the outfield market, as they look to win back-to-back World Series titles in 2023.

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