The Astros will be playing in the World Series for the third time in five seasons, though only six players remain from that 2017 championship team, and only four of that group (minus the injured Lance McCullers Jr. and the non-rostered Marwin Gonzalez) actually appeared in Houston’s ALCS victory over the Red Sox.  While the Astros continue to rely on some familiar cornerstones of that controversial 2017 team, there has been quite a bit of roster overhaul over a relatively short period of time, not to mention a new manager and GM in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal.

Proving that there is no one way to design a great team, the Astros used several different methods of transactions to collect their players.  Perhaps just as importantly, the Astros have been able to retain key talents through contract extensions, or by re-signing players once they reach free agency.  Here is the breakdown of how the Astros built their latest pennant winner….

Homegrown, international signings: Jose Altuve (2007), Framber Valdez (2015), Jose Urquidy (2015), Cristian Javier (2015), Luis Garcia (2017)

Landing a franchise second baseman, three members of a starting rotation, and a key swingman via the international signing market is impressive enough.  But, the Astros’ feat stands out even more considering that none of these five players were considered blue-chip prospects at the time of their signings, and were signed for merely thousands of dollars.

Altuve’s legend is well-known by this point, as the diminutive second baseman was inked for a modest $15K bonus and has now become a Houston sports icon.  The savings extended into Altuve’s first multi-year deal (a four-year pact worth $12.5MM in guaranteed money plus club options for 2018 and 2019) but Altuve then scored a much bigger payday with his second extension, a five-year/$151MM pact that runs through the 2024 campaign.

Going forward, the Astros’ international investment in their pitching corps might be an even more important overall development than landing Altuve.  Valdez, Urquidy, Garcia, and Javier combined for a 3.38 ERA over 498 1/3 innings, and all four pitcher are controlled through at least the 2025 season.  The quartet has already become an integral part of one contending team, and considering the veteran losses the Astros could face in free agency this offseason, Houston can feel some level of comfort in already having a new wave of arms already in place.

Homegrown, amateur draft: Jason Castro (2008 draft, first round, 10th pick), Carlos Correa (2012 draft, 1-1), Alex Bregman (2015, 1-2), Kyle Tucker (2015, 1-5), Jake Meyers (2017, 13-391), Chas McCormick (2017, 21-631).

Let’s begin with the caveat of Castro, who began his career in Houston through the lean years of the team’s rebuild, but left for the Twins as a free agent in the 2016-17 offseason — just before the Astros broke through to reach the Fall Classic.  Castro returned to Houston this past winter, signing a two-year, $7MM free agent contract.