Houston has a clear desire to add a closer heading into 2016 and has started the process of determining which bullpen arms are available. The Astros currently seem "hell-bent to get a closer," one club executive told ESPN's Jayson Stark.
Why the rumor makes sense
While the Astros were able to add several key arms to their bullpen last season, the organization did not add an experienced back-end of the bullpen, power arm-type reliever. As Stark points out, Astros closer Luke Gregerson ranked 24th in strikeout ratio among the 33 relievers the club used last season. As a result, the front office has a desire to add a reliever who can make hitters swing and miss consistently.
The Astros have expressed interest in Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Brad Boxberger and have been linked to Ken Giles in the past.
Cincinnati appears open to moving Chapman this off-season and he could give the Astros another left-handed relief option to turn to late in games. He pitched to a 1.63 ERA and 1.94 FIP over 66.1 innings with the Reds last season and averaged 15.74 strikeouts per nine innings, which would be a significant upgrade over Gregerson.
Boxberger averaged 10.57 strikeouts per nine innings last season and Andrew Miller averaged 14.59. If the Astros are truly seeking a power arm, there are quite a few available to choose from.
Adding a closer would also allow Gregerson to pitch in the eighth inning, which would likely make Houston's bullpen that much better.
Why the rumor doesn't make sense
There is always the possibility of keeping Gregerson and hoping he is able to improve his strikeout numbers in 2016.
Houston might not have the desire to give up top prospects in exchange for a top closing arm. The organization has put itself in a position to compete consistently and trading away multiple prospects could be counterproductive with regard to the club's long-term plans.
The Astros are not the only team in on Giles, Miller and Chapman. Instead of adding a dominant closer, improving the bullpen by adding power middle relievers and setup men could prove to be just as beneficial.
Likelihood overall: 7/10
Houston really wants to add a closer and they will probably end up doing so. They have the minor league depth necessary and the benefits of adding a closer might outweigh the negative effects of trading numerous top prospects.