The Houston Astros have made a couple early splashes this offseason, but they may not be done making big moves.
The Houston Astros were mentioned as team that would be aggressive this offseason, and they have not disappointed by trading for catcher Brian McCann and signing outfielder Josh Reddick to a four-year, $52 million before November was over. Now, with December starting and the Winter Meetings coming next week, the Astros may not be done looking to add offense.
As USA Today’s Bob Nightengale notes, the Astros may be pursuing free agents Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Beltran with the idea of landing one or the other. Encarnacion will clearly command a bigger contract, with prior indications he is seeking a five-year deal and the Toronto Blue Jays making an early four-year, $80 million offer to bring him back. Beltran on the other hand, due partially to age (39), can probably be signed to a one or two-year deal at a lower annual salary.
Encarnacion looks like a better fit for the Astros though, with a lack of good, proven options to play first base right now. Beltran would join a crowded outfield situation, and the acquisition of McCann is likely to push Evan Gattis into more time as a designated hitter next season. But if Beltran is willing to embrace less playing time than he might get elsewhere, he could have a place in Houston as a veteran leader with postseason experience.
After missing the playoffs last season, and barely finishing above .500 (84-78), the Astros are clearly looking to get back on the postseason track very quickly. Bad investments in aging players via free agency are very common. But an analytics-driven front office, led by general manager Jeff Luhnow, will get the benefit of the doubt as they look ready to keep going all-in this offseason.