Thursday, November 10, 2016

Catcher and Outfielder free agent options for the Astros

Predictions are fun. Anyone can make them and no one (usually) goes back to check them.

MLB Trade Rumors has an article up with a list of the Top 50 free agents and predictions. The Astros are mentioned 24 times. They have interest in 18 free agents and look to sign one. That one is Wilson Ramos for four years and $50MM. That's about $12.5MM of the $40MM we can expect the Astros to spend this offseason based on the work by Fangraphs and comments by Jeff Luhnow. Before we look at who else the Astros could sign I want to address Ramos.

He doesn't makes sense for the Astros. He's coming off injury which should help teams with his price tag. but the real problem is that he bats right-handed. The Astros are already heavy right-handed. I also expect the Astros to continue using Evan Gattis in a part time role behind the plate. Ideally, the Astros would want a left-handed hitting catcher. Jason Castro and Matt Wieters make sense from the available free agents. Still not a lot of options at catcher so maybe Ramos is the sign. I think all three will require about the same amount of contract. Moving on.

There will be some low-key signings but probably not enough to fill up the remaining $27.5MM. Lets look at some of the other free agents the Astros are associated with in the article. We'll start with the outfield because that seems to be the biggest need.

Yoenis Cespedes - Top free agent and right-handed. Unlikely.

Ian Desmond - 31 years old and right-handed. Unlikely.

 Josh Reddick - Now we're talking. Reddick is left-handed and entering his age 30 season. His defensive numbers aren't great hte last couple of years, but that's okay cause Springer is in right. He's an average hitter. He's predicted to go to the Giants for $12MM annually.

Michael Saunders - Another left-handed hitter entering his age 30 season. He's a bit of a mess defensively, but had a breakout year offensively. He stole Springer's All-Star spot, because he had an entire nation voting for him. He's expected to go to the Orioles for $11MM annually.

Carlos Beltran - A switch-hitting outfield who would rather play for the 2005 Mets than a World Series bound team. Yes! I'm still sore about him signing with New York. He'll be in his age 40 season. He had a good year for someone his age. One year for $14MM to the White Sox is the prediction.

Jon Jay - The final left-handed hitting outfield option. Luhnow should be familiar with Jay considering he was drafted in 2006 by the St. Louis Hackers. He'll be 32 years old next season. He has experience in center and his defensive numbers are overall par for the course. To the Indians for $6MM annually is the call.

Matt Joyce - A lesser left-handed option that Jay. His defense is atrocious. His offense is slightly above average, but comes with the strikeouts the Astros fanbase has come to hate. Athletics get him for $5MM annually. 

Of those options I like Josh Reddick and Jon Jay as a lower key signing. Beating both those numbers that would put the Astros at around $7.5MM left to spend. Maybe you don't sign Jay and have around $14.5MM for a starter or first basemen type. We'll get to the pitchers and first-basemen another time.