Throw money at this guy. Make that guy an offer he can’t refuse. Sign him whether we lose a draft pick or not.
It’s easy to look at a list of free agents and say, “Let’s spend that $20 million there!” But a smarter way to build the 2015 roster might mean finding impact players who don’t cost an arm and a leg.
Here’s a look at two of the Astros’ positions of need with a pair of moves that have been mentioned here at Chipalatta in passing over the past week or two. But I’m going to say, right off the bat, these are two moves I think Luhnow needs to make.
Mark Canha, 1B, Marlins organization. Rule 5 draft
It’s no secret the Astros need help at first base. Maybe Jon Singleton is that help. He’s young. He could put it together in 2015. It’s possible.
But maybe Singleton, and his high strikeout rate, is not the answer after all. If not, Houston needs a new option at first. Should they spend big money (thereby giving up on Singleton)? Or should they find another low-cost option who comes with a high upside?
Last year, Canha hit for a .303/.384/.505 slash line in 527 AAA New Orleans plate appearances, whiffing 112 times and hitting 20 HRs. He bats right, plays some third base and walks about half as often as he Ks.
Why did Miami leave a AAA player with an .889 OPS available? No idea. But someone is going to take this kid, and I’d be happy if it was Houston. Canha might be the second coming of Singleton, but he might be so much more.
Trevor Plouffe, 3B, Twins, Trade
So the Twins’ No. 2 prospect, Miguel Sano, sat out the 2014 season after Tommy John surgery. But he should be ready to go this spring. And he’s allegedly ready for prime time. The upshot here is that if Sano is ready, Trevor Plouffe is expendable to the Twins. The pitching-needy Twins.
Plouffe is in his first year of arbitration eligibility, so the Astros would probably be looking at about what Jason Castro make in 2014 for the third baseman with the .751 OPS, 14 HRs, 109Ks and 53 BBs in 573 PAs.
The problem is the Twins don’t need a catcher. Kurt Suzuki is signed through 2016. Their backup catcher, Josmil Pinto, is serviceable too. So the Twins won’t be happy with Carlos Corporan or even Castro. They could, however, use some serious rotation help and a maybe a reliable outfielder (though Byron Buxton may make that need obsolete).
Lance McCullers Jr., Michael Feliz, Vincent Velasquez, Josh Hader: Luhnow could offer any one of these along with Teoscar Hernandez or Tony Kemp. Maybe the Twins demand Mike Foltynewicz. The point is, there are plenty of options without giving up Appel. (Or Luhnow could just give up Appel, but I don’t see that happening.)
Change In Our Pocket
Total, these two deals might cost the Astros about $2.5 million or $3 million in salary. And that leaves plenty of money where Houston should spend it: the bullpen.
So, what are the holes in my plan?
How would you fix third base and first base if not with Plouffe and Canha?
Will your plan leave enough money to fix Houston’s biggest problem, the bullpen?