With Tanaka domino down, let the fun begin

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.


20 comments on “With Tanaka domino down, let the fun begin

  1. I’d be cool with Garza or Jimenez, but I’m not crazy on E.Santana. I’d be afraid that so many innings would make this be the year that Arroyo breaks down. And hey, there’s always Roy Oswalt….nah, can’t even do that as a joke. His attitude quite frankly sucks these days, and he’s just about done.

    If we need another relief pitcher, it’d be good to take a flyer on David Aardsma. As far as other free agents go…not really a lot of good players out there. I’d send Wallace packing and try to pick up a backup SS or third baseman, because the free agent crop sucks for those two positions.


  2. I wonder if Tanaka signing with the Yankees actually decreases the price for those other pitchers. Jimenez and Santana are in the same boat as Stephen Drew – a team would not only be spending big bucks but also lose the draft pick. With the Yankees out of the bidding…assuming they are content with their currently projected rotation…which team would be willing to overpay for a Garza, Santana, or Jimenez?


  3. I wouldn’t mind having Arroyo. He’s been proven very durable, and he
    confuses the hitters…..ie…. the past 10 years against the Astros!


  4. Here’s how I see them:
    #1 – Garza – Just rock solid consistent – his ERA in the last 7 years has been between 3.69 and 3.95. We could live with that quite nicely.
    #2 – Arroyo – he’s been mostly good with a couple clinkers thrown in. He has been better than Garza the last two years, but he does turn 37 next month.
    #3 – Santana – He has been up and down – you do not know if you are going to get good or bad. In the last 7 years he has had 3 seasons with a 5+ ERA and 4 seasons with an ERA under 4 – sometimes way under 4.
    #4 Jimenez – I see warning lights when a guy stinks for 2 seasons (2011 and 2012) and then in his contract year he pitches well.
    Yes, if they had the money to offer Tanaka big bucks – they should have some lesser amount to help the rotation.


  5. Another solid piece in the rotation would be great, and I agree with Dan’s ranking of these guys. Really, Garza is the best option in many ways. All he’d cost is money.

    That said, I wonder if we’ve exhausted all avenues for a shortstop either through trade or free agency (Drew). I see Altuve bouncing back. And I think Dominguez will be more like second-half Matty than first-half Matty (see my upcoming look at third base for more details).

    What it boils down to is this: You can make a semi-reasonable argument that we will have acceptable production from every spot on the field. Altuve bounces back. Either the platoon or Singleton will work at first. Second-half Matty D. Castro repeats. Springer, Fowler and Grossman/Hoes will all do so-so to great. But I honestly don’t see a scenario where Villar or Marwin provide even just-below-average offense.

    With all our young pitchers — Feldman notwithstanding — in the rotation, I’d rather spend money on a shortstop.


  6. I agree with Brian. I think we have a lot of young home grown pitching talent coming up, why over spend on these old bouncing around dudes., The bullpen is looking way better, lets score some more runs. I just don’t see any shortstops that get me warm and fuzzy for the $$. I think a proven run producing left fielder for a 1 year deal, option 2 yr. Whats are long term outfield look like Springer, Fowler ???


    • I think Aplin, Santana, Waites, Tucker and maybe DeShields might be possibilities. I’d like Grossman to have a little bit of a chance this season.


  7. If you can get Garza to come to Houston at market price, take it. If, and I suspect this to be the case, you have to overpay to convince him to come here, pass. The others listed are just as capable of having a bad season as a good season.

    I think hte Feldman signing is one we will regret. Very incinsistent long term. I guess someone has to pitch opening day though.


  8. I don’t believe the Astros offered Tanaka $100 million.
    I don’t have near the access to info that Luhnow has, but I read everything on the Tanaka saga and I knew last week that 7/ $140 was the minimum it would take to sign him. If the Astros were serious, I think their offer was close to my figure and they don’t want it tossed around out there while they are busy penny pinching their prospects.
    In the aftermath, maybe they hope to sign another veteran starter for a year, maybe with an option. Then they might package a young pitcher like Peacock with a young infield prospect in a trade for a proven position player to fill a hole.
    They have three serious top 10 prospect SP who may see AAA this season in Appel, Folty and Wojo, not to mention Tropeano. Signing a vet starter for this year and trading one of our young pitchers might fill our holes this season and make it easier next year to move our best pitching prospects up.


  9. You gotta remember…..Matt Garza has a screw in his pitching elbow
    and he’s had a few stints on DL with it. We need a short stop. PERIOD.


  10. We “now know” jack.

    We “know” what the newspaper says, which is simply reporting what Crane claims.

    What we DO know is that Tanatka, Choo and Abreu are playing for other organizations. And we know that our roster is chock-full of scrubs.

    Look at what Crane DOES and not what he says. Chip, you are obviously still in denial.


  11. I was real impressed with Jiminez in CLE last year. Just plain wicked at times. But why dream the futile dream? He’s not coming to Houston, nor is Capuano, Arroyo, Santana, Maholm, Hammel or any other legit hurler. It’s NOT going to happen. Luhnow and Crane are posers, and the hopeful fans are the suckers.

    You may say “you don’t know that”, and hope for the best. I’ll reply “watch what happens”.

    Seriously. WATCH what happens. The rest is hyped up noise.


    • Pitchers who could command $10M+ from other teams are not going to sign with Houston until about 29 other options have been exhausted. The offense is too putrid. However, with the minor league system getting stronger and hopefully creating a talent pipeline, it will be easier to lure free agents. However, for this same reason I wonder why Garza signed in Milwaukee. I can’t see that team finishing above third in the division…and likely will be closer to fifth. Am I missing something?


      • Devin, the Brewer signing is a bit odd. Odd, too, is the seemingly under-market $52 million! Figured it would be somewhere just north of $60 million. Especially given the fact he had more appeal since teamswouldn’t lose a draft pick.


  12. Becky, after 3 one hundred loss seasons, you need everything, including a SS. A better 1B, LF, 3 starters, another reliever, and I would argue the jury is still out on 3B, 2B, and CF. We are likely to get a surprise or two, but more likely we will see 70% of these question marks fail.


  13. I don’t see any starting pitcher left that excites me considering Ubaldo and Santana will cost us our 2nd pick and the $ assigned to it. I would rather look to upgrade our offense, especially at SS as it is clearly our weakest area. With that being said I wouldn’t sign Drew for SS due to the lost draft pick also. A trade might be our best option.


  14. I’m glad I’m excited about where the Astro’s are Going. I’m all for taking our time doing this right and not overpaying.. The money the Dodgers, Angels, Yankees, etc stupid money and hasn’t really done them a lot of good except make free agents rich men. Ill take the Cardinals model of success in a smaller market any day. Brian I like Grossman hope we get the Grossman of the last 75 games.


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