The baseball off-season is about to turn the corner. Many general managers, owners and managers will tell you they like to have the bulk of their roster work done by Christmas.
For some teams — and I emphasize some — that has happened in 2013. For others like the Astros, some shuffling and rearrangement still lies ahead. In the case of some teams, considerable shuffling remains. The dominoes should start to fall soon as teams begin to prepare for the next stop on the off-season calendar: Spring Training.
Despite the recent trade for Jesus Guzman, the Astros are likely
among the teams still trying to upgrade in some areas. Specifically, first base, another starter, perhaps even more bullpen help. Houston’s 40-man roster is full, so adding any more players will require trading or releasing someone.
And, if $60 million is the figure GM Jeff Luhnow has his eye on, the Astros still have some wiggle room. Let’s recap where the numbers stand right now. Assuming they aren’t traded, these seven players are guaranteed contacts for 2014. Figures for Castro and Guzman are projected as they are both arbitration eligible.
|Jason Castro||$2,000,000||Arb 2||Arb 3|
|Jesus Guzman||$1,300,000||Arb 2||Arb 3|
That means Luhnow has to fill out the team with 18 others, many of whom will have salaries in the $500,000-$750,000 range. So, for fun, let’s just say those 18 average $700,000, assuming that Luhnow will snag another player or two in the $1 million range.
At this moment, that puts the projected payroll at approximately $40 million give or take seven figures. And, that doesn’t count the $5.5 million Houston will pay Wandy Rodriguez to pitch for Pittsburgh in 2014. Even if those figures are off somewhat, it’s clear Luhnow still has some of Jim Crane’s money left to spend.
Of course, some of those $500,000 salaries could become higher if players like Brett Wallace, Carlos Corporan, Lucas Harrell or others are jettisoned and replaced with more proven major leaguers. And, remember, Luhnow could spend some of that $60 million during the season as well.
At the risk of opening the door(s) to plenty of cynicism and sarcasm, where is the weak spot in this lineup? Or perhaps I should just say the “weakest” spot? Which of these projected starters need to be upgraded if the Astros are guaranteed improvement in 2014?
- Castro C.
- Guzman 1B.
- Altuve 2B.
- Villar SS.
- Dominguez 3B.
- Robbie Grossman or L.J. Hoes LF.
- Fowler CF.
- George Springer RF.
- Chris Carter DH.
Even with Feldman, Fowler and Qualls in the fold, you can see that Luhnow still has plenty of money left to buy a few extra Christmas gifts.