We now know: The Astros have the money and they’re willing to spend it in the right scenario.
Jim Crane and Jeff Luhnow made it to the final rounds in the bidding for Masahiro Tanaka after losing out earlier this winter in efforts to lure Jose Dariel Abreu to Houston.
With the $60 million bid for Abreu and a reported $10 0 million plus for Tanaka, the Astros have sent a message. Now, they should bring home the goods as the mad dash begins toward spring training.
Josh Johnson (Padres) and Scott Kazmir (A’s) might have been reasonable options for the Astros, but if there is still money on the table, there are plenty of available takers.
Some of the top free agent pitchers on the market were waiting for the Tanaka domino to fall to solidify their market value. And, while they may not have the particular allure of Tanaka — specifically the age factor — they will come less expensive and perhaps offer as much in return.
Frankly, a team could possibly sign all of those pitchers mentioned below for a combined total in the same ballpark as the $155 million the Yankees will pay Tanaka over the next seven seasons.
Still, here are a few pitchers the Astros could add that would upgrade the rotation:
Matt Garza. 30.
- Garza has been mentioned as the best free agent pitcher on the market. If the Astros wanted to spend without losing a draft pick, this would be their guy. A four year deal might get it done at $15 million per.
Ervin Santana. 31.
- Another solid choice for top of the rotation, but signing him would require giving up a second round pick — and the funds that go along with it — and that’s not likely. He could command five years, though the Tanaka contract could drive up the numbers above previously projected $75 million.
Ubaldo Jimenez. Just turned 30.
- He’d require a draft pick as well, but got back on track in Cleveland last season. He would be a solid #1 for this Houston rotation. The draft pick notwithstanding, Jimenez might could be had for less than $50 million.
Bronson Arroyo. 36.
- Though it’s rumored he’s headed to the Dodgers, Arroyo would be a nice pickup, and probably less expensive than some of the premier pitchers listed. Yep, he’s got the age and that may not fit into the youth scenario, but he’s steady, consistent and shows few signs of slowing down.
Plus, Paul Maholm, Jason Hammel and Chris Capuano are still out there. They’d be considerably less expensive and less upside as well.
There are some position players that will be determining their futures soon too, but the biggest barrier for the pitchers above is now removed and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them any or all of sign within the next week.