*The Astros are looking to add two arms to the bullpen. Luke Gregerson, Tyler Clippard and Francisco Liriano account for 89.1IP in 2017 - of course the majority of which were Gregerson's IPs. Luhnow:
At this point, it's a lot of feeling each other out and trying to see where the market is going on some of the players we're interested in. I think it will be a productive three days. Even if we don't get a deal done while we're here, we're certainly going to put ourselves in a spot where we'll have an opportunity to potentially (do so) after. I'm optimistic we're going to do something to improve the club while we're here or shortly thereafter.
We find in McTaggart's link that the Astros did offer a contract to Mike Minor, but the Rangers gave him the opportunity to start.
*With Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton's contracts set to expire following the 2018 season, the Astros could look into adding a starter. Here's a non-quote from Luhnow:
I think the reality is if we're going to improve our rotation, it's going to have to be somebody that's better than what we have, and we've got a pretty good rotation penciled out for next year. So we're not going to be looking at fourth and fifth starters. We're probably looking at something north of that. There's not a big population (of available starters who fit that criteria), but we'll probably touch base with maybe not all of them but some of them.
Typically the ones that we like require much more significant commitments and we're not sure that's the best path for us to take right now.
*Ken Rosenthal writes in the (subscription-only) Athletic that the Astros have shown interest in Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish, which would be, uh, interesting.
*Jon Heyman used pretty much all 280 of his characters and said that the Astros never came very close but did try on Giancarlo Stanton.
*Jerry Crasnick notes that Marwin Gonzalez - a free agent following 2018 - has also hired Scott Boras as his agent. Stros looking to get PAID.
*An anonymous Astros player told Sports Illustrated how they knew Yu Darvish was going to his slider before he threw it:
The players said it worked like this: Darvish holds the ball at his side when he gets the sign from the catcher. Whether he re-grips or not as he brings the ball into his glove was the tip-off whether he was going to throw a slider/cutter or a fastball.
*Did the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton change the Rays' mindset? Maybe Chris Archer is available (for a steep price).
*The Astros signed catcher Tim Federowicz and reliever Matt Ramsey to minor-league deals with an invitation to Spring Training.
Federowicz, a 30-year old catcher, was the Red Sox' 7th Round pick in the 2008 draft. In 403 games at Triple-A, Federowicz has a .304/.374/.503 slash line. Federowicz was part of the three-team trade at the 2011 deadline that saw him get sent to the Dodgers while the Mariners sent former Astros great Erik Bedard and Astros World Series Hero Josh Fields to the Red Sox. Then in December 2014 he was part of the trade that sent Matt Kemp to the Dodgers and Yasmani Grandal to the Padres.
Matt Ramsey, a 5'11 205lb, 28-year old RHP, posted a 3.65 ERA/1.35 WHIP for Double-A Biloxi in 2017 with 58K in 44.1IP. In his five-year minor-league career Ramsey has 239 strikeouts in 198IP. He did hit Triple-A briefly in Colorado Springs (5.1IP), but that's been it so far.
*Kate Upton had a whole bunch of details I don't really understand for Vogue about The Wedding. Except cornhole, I know that. And the Uplander Games sounds legit.
*Red Sox GM(?) Dave Dombrowski:
If we can get better, we're going to do that. But it's really not based on the Stanton move. We're not changing based upon that. It was already our plan to get better. We not only have to beat the Yankees, we have to beat the Astros, world champs, because our goal is to not only win our division but to be the world champs.
Pretty much never going to get old seeing "Astros, world champs" in a row.
*A RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD: Rangers sign Chris Martin.
Mike, I don’t know what the future holds, but I can promise one thing. I have given everything I can to the city each and every start. I ❤️ Houston. https://t.co/4A8W7ta48r— Dallas Keuchel (@kidkeuchy) December 12, 2017