A re-look at 2019 Astros and salaries

There was a little discussion about the 2019 salaries in the previous blog, which just happened to coincide with something that your faithful servant was researching at the time. Back in July, we visited the subject in a three-part series looking at the roster construction from 2019 to 2021.

The 2019 review looked like this – https://chipalatta.com/2018/07/05/future-astros-three-year-look-ahead-part-1-2019/

A few things have changed, but the basics are as follows:

POSITION   Player                                 2019 Salary
1B                YULI GURRIEL                   $10.4 MM
2B                JOSE ALTUVE                     $9.5 MM
SS                CARLOS CORREA (ARB)    $5.1 MM – EST
3B                ALEX BREGMAN                $2 MM – EST
C                  TBD                                       TBD
DH               TYLER WHITE                    $600 K
OF                TBD                                       TBD
OF                GEORGE SPRINGER           $12 MM
OF                JOSH REDDICK                   $13 MM
BENCH        TBD                                       TBD
BENCH        TONY KEMP                        $560 K
BACKUP C   TBD                                      TBD
SP                  JUSTIN VERLANDER        $20 MM
SP                  GERRIT COLE (ARB)          $13.1 MM – EST
SP                  TBD                                       TBD
SP                  TBD                                       TBD
SP                  COLLIN MCHUGH (ARB)  $5.4 MM -EST
RP                  HECTOR RONDON             $4.5 MM
RP                  CHRIS DEVENSKI (ARB)   $1.4 MM – EST
RP                  ROBERTO OSUNA (ARB)   $6.5 MM – EST
RP                  JOE SMITH                           $8 MM
RP                  RYAN PRESSLY                    $3.1 MM – EST
RP                  BRAD PEACOCK (ARB)       $2.9 MM – EST
RP                  TBD TBD
RP                  TBD TBD
MISC.             LANCE MCCULLERS           $4.6 MM – EST

Note – under this scenario, it is assumed that certain folks are gone through free agency (Marwin Gonzalez, Evan Gattis, Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Brian McCann and Tony Sipp, Martin Maldonado) or won’t be pursued in arbitration (Jake Marisnick, Will Harris).

So, what are we looking at….

  • Sure fire money owed unless a player is traded is ~$78 million for Verlander, Springer, Reddick, Gurriel, Altuve, Smith and Rondon.
  • Money estimated (by mlbtraderumors.com) for arbitration is ~$42 million for Cole, Osuna, McHugh, Correa, Pressly, Peacock, Devenski and which includes a guesstimated $4.6 million for Lance McCullers not to pitch.
  • There is about $3 million estimated total for Bregman, White and Kemp.

So, covering 17 of the 25 spots costs a total of $123 million. The Astros payroll in 2018 came in at around $163 million, so there is some money to play with here, whether we assume it is the same payroll or a bit more.

Let’s look at three options to fill out the 25 man……

“The Po’Boy” roster

The low end choices could include the following folks already on the roster or easily added to it.

  • 2 Catchers. Garrett Stubbs and Max Stassi would cost about a $1 million total. If you used recently picked up Chris Hermann as a backup this would go to about $2 million.
  • Left field. Throw about $600K at young Kyle Tucker and don’t look back
  • Bench. Pickup Jake Marisnick in arbitration for about $2.4 million
  • 2 Starting Pitchers. From Josh James, Framber Valdez, and Cionel Perez, fill out your rotation for about $1 million.
  • 2 Relief Pitchers. Whoever is not in the rotation from James, Valdez and Perez, put them in the bullpen. Add in Dean Deetz and you just filled the spots for about $1 million total or pick up Will Harris in arbitration and fill the two spots for about $4 million.

Po’Boy total – about $129 to 133 million

The “It’s Not My Money” Roster

The high-end choices look a lot different:

  • Go trade for J.T. Realmuto (projected $6.1 million). But the arbitration is not the big cost or sign a free agent like Yasmani Grandal for about $14 million a year
  • Another catcher will be cheap (Stubbs, Stassi, Hermann)
  • Left Field. Go get Bryce Harper for $30+ million for the rest of our lives
  • DH/Bench. Move Tyler White to the bench as you sign free agent Nelson Cruz (estimated $18 million) as your new DH
  • Starting pitchers. Go get James Paxton (projected $9 million) and Corey Kluber (Under contract $17 million)
  • Relief pitchers. Sign free agents Craig Kimbrel ($16 million) and Zach Britton (Let’s guess $12 million after his injuries and recovery)

“It’s Not My Money” Total – 25 man roster for a mere…..$231 to $239 million

“Back to Reality” Roster

The Astros are more likely to end up as follows:

  • Catcher. They will trade for J.T. Realmuto (projected $6.1 million) or sign a free agent like Yasmani Grandal for about $14 million a year and back him up with the cheaper option
  • Left field. I think they give the “Kid” Kyle Tucker a shot at this spot
  • Bench. There were a bunch of DH/corner IF or OF bats available late in the last spring training and don’t be surprised if the Astros chase one for $7 to 10 million for 2019
  • Starting Pitchers. The Astros will fill one of the spots with a youngster and pursue their next Charlie Morton out there. Maybe a Sonny Gray, Marcus Stroman or Robbie Ray. So let’s say $12 million or so
  • Relief Pitchers. The Astros will fill one spot with a youngster and may try to re-sign a Will Harris through arbitration at $3.5 million or so.

“Back to Reality” Total: $163 to $175 million range

This is total speculation at this point, but that is the essence of hot-stove league talk.

Which of these paths do you think the Astros will take and who do you think they will pursue?


87 comments on “A re-look at 2019 Astros and salaries

  1. I expect mostly the ‘Back to Reality’ approach, but with perhaps one high-price, high profile move, either in the rotation [chances of getting Paxton chances are greater than those of getting Kluber] or at Designated Hitter/Outfielder [Castellanos chances are better than Cruz].

    I do not expect – or desire – to see Harper, Kimbrell, or Britton.

    But as Cyndi Lauper once said: “Money . . . money changes everything!”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m on the back to reality train. Would think the catcher is the big need, with 1 “name” pitcher along with maybe a DH or power outfielder. I like Mr. Bill do not see Harper, Britton or Kimbrell.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. How in the world do we predict what the Astros will do? We can’t.
    -But, in July, daveb did correctly predict Giles would be gone.
    – I’m pretty sure the Astros were interested in three months of Bryce Harper. I’m inclined to believe that they won’t be interested in 12 years of him. I think the Phillies will outbid anyone for him, to boost their team and put it to the Nats. If the Astros are banking on signing Springer as a reason not to go after Harper, they might be disappointed. If it is a question of them not seeing the value there, that is a good reason. I ran my version of the numbers on him last night and don’t see how he justifies his last 4 years of a 12+ year deal.
    -I nailed all the predictions of whether the Astros would want to chase their free agents, with my hardest decision being Gattis, because he was coming off two great months. Unfortunately, he fell off the cliff.
    -I believe the down offensive year, team-wide, Morton’s discomfort and previous undisclosed conversations with Keuchel’s agent led to the path the Astros took on their free agents.
    -In short, I think they will take a “back to reality approach”. I believe you nailed the payroll range for the year, because noone knows exactly what Crane’s or Luhnow’s future plans might be for the team. This franchise is now worth a lot of money.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Having a conversatile with Scott Boras, would be enough for me to say “see ya later” to Charlie. Reading this just ruined my affection for Charlie Morton.
      I’m a little crushed right now Old Pro……..I sure wish I hadn’t read this😢


      • Becky, I believe you misread my comment. That was two different things:
        Charlie’s discomfort was only about his shoulder discomfort leading to the Astros maybe not wanting to give him a QO.
        Keuchel’s agent’s conversatile conversations was a reference to any conversations he had with Astros management over the last couple of years about an extension vs. free agency. Those conversations probably led them to believe that Keuchel was going to test the free agent waters, thus leading to the Astros giving him a QO.
        I wasn’t linking the two together. Keep your affection for Charlie.


  4. If I’m trying to get back to the WS, I’m going after a DH/LF in Brantley and the best catcher in baseball in Realmuto, and a hard throwing pitcher for my #3 starter. All three of those should slot into your payroll objectives if you subtract Marisnick’s and Harris’s salary by one means or another.
    Springer CF
    Bregman 3B
    Altuve 2B
    Brantley DH
    Correa SS
    Realmuto C
    Reddick RF
    Gurriel 1B
    Tucker LF

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! Tyler is the 2nd DH. Especially against tough LHP, he faces those lefties.
        Yes! Tyler is your 2nd 1B. He spells Gurriel when Gurriel is giving the other infeilders a day off. And he spells Gurriel when he needs a day off or when Gurriel is facing a pitcher that has given him fits in the past. There are still lots of at bats for Tyler in this scenario.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m definitely in the back to reality camp. I think Tucker has been too good in the minors to think signing another outfielder makes sense…unless that creates roster flexibility by having an outfielder who can also play DH (sorry Tyler and Yuri). That would also eliminate the prospect of Nelson Cruz. I would stay away from guys like Kimbrel and Britton. I keep writing over and over that relievers are volatile. I don’t like their shelf lives at this point.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brantley’s numbers in the outfield have not been good the last two years. But he can really hit and his K/BB rate is a terrific fit at primary DH. And he will do ok in our LF when he is needed. I like him at DH because it will also cut down on his chances at being injured, which has clouded his past.
      You will notice that, although I am leery of Tucker’s abilities right now, I still have him in the lineup at LF. His LH bat, if it blossoms, sets that lineup to be balanced and lethal in that 9th spot and if he gets hot, I would consider swapping lineup spots with Reddick moving down and Tucker into the 7 spot.


      • Is Brantley worth 3 years at 33MM? Not so sure about that. We have Tucker, Springer, Reddick, Kemp, Marisnick, Straw, and a couple other s to choose from. I still like Kemp’s bat. No he’s not going to hit 30, 20 or even 10 home runs but his overall stats look good, W’s to K’s look good. Best of all he’s a contact hitter. I can see him averaging 285-300. And he’s inexpensive (better than cheap).


  6. I am not sold YET on Kemp (Heavy on the YET). However, he can do a marginal job in left, and replace Altuve at times. White can spell Yuli so he can spell Bregman who can spell Correa. (For you English majors, spell means to temporarily replace). That leave all the money for 1. Starting catcher, 2. DK’s replacement, and 3. DH/LF. Brantley fits in there nicely. Brantley has been solid every year except 2015 (only 11 games). And if there is money left over 4. Bullpen help. I would like to add that McHugh did a fine job as a starter, but at times he was hit hard. The defense kept him from being bad to awful. Lets hope the stint in the bullpen helped him learn a pitch or two.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We wake up this morning with the news that Luhnow’s right hand man will most likely be the new Orioles GM. Mike Elias will also be hiring Sig Mejdal as his top assistant.
    Thing is, they still have to pass physicals and get approval from the owners. Both of those tasks could prove to be fatal blows to all plans. We are talking about Baltimore.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m starting to picture Orson Welles towards the end of Citizen Kane – Jeff Luhnow all alone in Xanadu. All his friends have left him and he’s moaning to his nurse about (spoiler alert) his snow sled from when he was a boy.


      • I never made it through the entire movie. Orson Welles bored me to tears. Of course, I’m also the guy who could not sit through the movie version of Oklahoma. I went outside and chewed sand.


      • I think Citizen Kane is one of the most over-rated movies from an entertainment point of view in history. I do believe the techniques he used to make the movie were way, way ahead of his time – it does not look like other movies made in the same time period.
        Basically the movie was a hit piece on William Randolph Hearst.
        So we are really hitting bottom in doing movie reviews, but that’s what happens when the Hot Stove League is Tepid.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. 1OP, I can’t be the only guy that knew Giles was gone, but I did know he’d be gone quickly. They didn’t want his stink hanging around the organization.

    In some respects, this is my favorite time of the year. No grinding out wins, no losing sleep watching West Coast action, no quietly cursing our failures. Yeah I do curse our failures, just not on the blog.

    What I really appreciate is the rumor mill, the back and forth of roster building, all the speculation, and certainly the anticipation of what gifts Luhnow might bring us. Of course too, the knowledge that we’ll be losing some valuable talent too. It’s inevitable.

    As far as all the personnel changes go, if the foundation is solid, new talent will step up, not unlike the farm system. I worked many years for a pretty good hotel company. We got poached all the time by head hunters with great offers. Today, my old company is still considered an industry leader, largely in the area of human resources. There is no reason to expect otherwise from our club. We’ll be alright.

    Liked by 4 people

    • One of the things we don’t know and which we will likely never know, Dave is what is causing the exodus. Is it purely poaching or are there some unhappy people who learned a lot here, but could not wait to get out of Dodge because they think they are worth more, think they are not getting enough recognition, don’t like the way they are treated, etc.
      I imagine it is somewhere in between – folks want to see what it is like to move up a rung on the ladder and get the bigger pay with the bigger responsibility and are attractive to other organizations because of the success here.

      Liked by 1 person

    • In the July post that Dan linked to, you are the guy who said Giles would be gone soon and I still had him in the bullpen in 2019.
      Are you still in the Caribbean? Your comment above leads me to believe you have had a change. Or am I reading that wrong? Who will I talk to about monkeys?
      And I love this time of year, too. I love the anticipation of seeing what my team is going to look like next season.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. -Let me clarify something. I have Tucker in the lineup above because I don’t think anyone in the world agrees with me that he should headline the trade for Realmuto. I advocated signing Brantley as the main DH because I think he is a really good hitter who is a four time All-Star and a reliable LH bat.
    Our top of the lineup is all right handed guys and I think we need a reliable LH bat in the top four to give pitchers more to handle. Reddick has not been doing that.
    My preference in LF is a platoon of Kemp and Straw and they make Brantley’s acquisition much more affordable. One of those two is in LF and the other is on the bench. Either one of them in LF is preferable to me over Tucker, who I think gets us Realmuto in a trade.
    -I haven’t forgotten Alvarez. He is actually the guy I prefer over Tucker, but he is also a year Away from being major league ready, in my opinion.
    -The Boston Red Sox entered the playoffs with all kinds of questions about their pitching. Sales’s health, Price’s playoff past, Porcello’s season, Kimbrel and Kelly’s supposed drop in effectiveness. But Boston’s lineup plowed through every other team’s pitching staff, just like the Astros’ lineup did in 2017. Those two team’s lineups are the reason they won the 2017 and 2018 WS and I think, with all the money that is going to be spent by the top 15 clubs in baseball this offseason, that no club is going to dominate the 2019 WS with their pitching. I think they will do it again with their bats.
    -One of the reasons teams are finding it hard to dominate in the playoffs with their pitching is because managers are not letting their starters go deep into the games, thus taxing their bullpens. It’s the teams who have the dominant lineups from 1-9 that are wearing down the other teams and beating them with runs late in their respective series. And you can’t have guys at the bottom of your lineup like Derek Fisher, Jake Marisnick, Kyle Tucker, Martin Maldonado, Brian McCann, Evan Gattis and Max Stassi who are going to strike out 35-4o % of the time in the playoffs at the bottom of the lineup. The Astros did not have that in 2017 and Boston didn’t have that in 2018.

    Liked by 3 people

    • OP, I’ve gone back and forth on Tucker. At one point, I wanted him as the main piece in a Yelich deal. I don’t know if that was ever a consideration, but today, one might argue that it would have cemented another title for us.

      But before I claim to be smarter than anyone else, once I saw what Tucker was doing during spring training, I was relieved he was still with us in the organization, not traded for anyone, including the now MVP candidate in Yelich.

      Today I still have a hard time believing he could be a bust. But if he went for Realmuto, I’d accept it and hope he ends up as a good, solid, unremarkable outfielder going forward.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Dan P: “… which we will likely never know … is what is causing the exodus.” I have asked this before. I link it at the very least to Brad Ausmus, who declared when he left: “I will always be an Astro.” Yet, when given a shot at the manager’s job, he removed himself from the mix. Why? If we knew the real reason Ausmus stayed away, we would have valuable insight.


    • Diane – the problem is there can be so many different reasons behind a decision like Brad’s. If I were a betting man I would say he probably did not want to go to a job where the statistical nerd side of the organization would have so much influence on the manager’s decisions / roster. Or maybe they were not talking about enough money or years for his taste.


    • I think Ausmus turned down the Astros job because the team was awful at the time and he didn’t want any part of that. When he took the Detroit job, they had a ton of good players for him to manage.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I find it interesting in this mlbtraderumors.com article….

    That the only player they think the Astros may non-tender (not go forward with arbitration) is newly picked up C Chris Hermann. This means they think that the Astros are likely to go to arbitration on Will Harris and Jake Marisnick (along with the obvious arbs like Peacock, Correa, Cole, McHugh, Devenski, Osuna). That will be something interesting to watch along the way.


  12. i think the organization likes jake more than most of the blog does. i’d bet a beer they resign him. (maybe not go to arbitration, but resign)


  13. Trey Hillman’s team won the Korean league championship and I believe that Hillman had already announced he would be returning to the states next year. Hillman was Hinch’s bench coach before Cora.
    I’m just bringing this up because of the Elias/Mejdal/Espada rumors that are running wild right now. Seems to me we might hear Hillman’s name again.


  14. I was working on a quick post about the Rule 5. Does anybody know if Francis Martes (TJ surgery – out for most or all of 2019) counts against the 40 man? I think being on the 60 day he deos not- but not sure.


    • He counts against the 40-man during the offseason. Right now they have to add him back or lose him. When 2019 season starts they can put him on the 60 day dl and that would add a spot. He would be in the exact same spot as LMJ. They will be on the roster until they can officially be placed on the 60-day DL next season.
      In other words, I don’t think there is a 60-day DL in the offseason.
      If I’m not mistaken, the Astros must decide who to keep by next Tuesday.
      This is why the non-tender deadline is important. There are players you want to keep on the roster, there are prospects you have to add to the roster or lose them in the Rule 5. If you fill up your roster and don’t leave spots open for free agent signings, then you are forced to trade some players or release them and pay their tendered salaries.
      This is the reason there is a list of players who might not be tendered an offer. Remember the Herrmann/Marisnick names on that list.
      The Astros have been talking to the Marlins and any other team that has a catcher they are interested in. The Astros have been talking to the agents of free agent catchers the Astros are interested in. Where they are in those talks will determine whether Herrmann gets tendered. Where they are in their plans/negotiations/desires/ideas for their outfield determines whether they tender Marisnick. They could also try to trade players who are on the bubble for non-tender and let the new team tender them.


      • Thanks op – I am working on a post related to 40 man / Rule 5 and tendering…. maybe by the end of the day or tomorrow early
        What you said matches what I was thinking – players can be stowed away on the 60 day during the season and not count against the 40 man, but in the offseason they count again.


    • The Martes/Gustave comparison is a prime example of the 60-day situation. Both would have to be carried on the roster during the offseason and the Astros chose not to carry Gustave, so he was DFA’d.


      • Read an article right after the World Series about another team. And they were talking about a couple on the DL that had to be added to the 40 man. A team in the off season has a quandary in the roster if they have a couple or more with Tommy John.


      • Good point. How about amending the rule to exclude guys recovering from surgery like McCullers? Would teams be sending guys for a hangnail procedure to beat the system? Probably.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. That’s a tough/inconsistent rule. I’m not sure I understand the intent. Essentially, a team is penalized for having significant injuries during the off season, but there is a loop hole for the regular season. Baseball on the field is with few exceptions a common sense event. Not necessarily so off the field. I’m glad you guys are here to tell me what’s what. I lack either the capacity or desire or both to keep up with this stuff. Just get me to the 40 man and then the 25 man. Thank you for your support.


  16. DB, does bring up a valid point. If a player like LMJ is going to miss the entire season, there should be a category of “Unable to Perform” and it not count against the 40 man. Now the Astros may be hoping for a miracle and he is ready to start a World Series game in 2019. Another point is it might create a public relations problem for the Astros. As an example, if a starting pitcher needs arm reattachment surgery the Astros would probably release. “Joe Bob Jumpback is experiencing discomfort in his fingernail. He is being placed on the Unable to Perform list and will miss the 2019 season.”


  17. Tim put a post from Blake Snell on his Twitter.

    “Blake Snell @snellzilla4: So just got informed I’m being drug tested tomorrow. How random do we think this drug test is? ” Followed by 3 smiley faces laughing


  18. Players I think are non-tender or trade candidates from the Astros:
    Chris Devenski
    Players I think the Astros would have interest in:
    A non-tendered Avasail Garcia
    A non-tendered Shelby Miller
    C. Santana
    Andrew Miller
    I left Grandal off of the list because of the draft pick, but that is just my personal opinion based on how much Luhnow seems to love draft picks. If Keuchel signs somewhere else the Astros would then have two draft picks near the end of the second round. That is, if they don’t sign a QO player, which would cost them their first of the two late second-round picks.
    Please note that I’m not saying that the Astros would go after ALL of these guys. Just suggesting that I think they might be interested in a combination of some of them.


  19. heres what it would take to get realmuto from one source.
    What exactly would it take to get Realmuto? A source told Morosi that the Marlins have maintained that at least one of the Astros’ top two prospects — 21-year-old outfielder Kyle Tucker or 21-year-old right-hander Forrest Whitley — be included in any trade. Both Tucker and Whitley rank among baseball’s top 10 overall prospects, per MLB Pipeline, with Tucker at No. 5 and Whitley at No. 8.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. doesnt bode well for marwin being backhttp://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/25302846/houston-astros-acquire-aledmys-diaz-trade-toronto-blue-jays


    • The move makes sense. Thornton, at 25, is lost in a sea of much better arms. He was not going to be protected and would possibly be taken in rule V draft. Diaz is a serviceable utility man with a decent bat and not too much glove. He has a low K rate and had an excellent rookie campaign with STL. If he can replicate his rookie numbers he will be valuable. If not he can be thrown into the mix in AAA as short- term, emergency help.

      Liked by 1 person

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