Richard Justice of The Houston Chronicle writes that the Astros are "unlikely to be significant players in free agency this winter." The team is trying to lower payroll and get younger, something signing free agents generally won't accomplish. Justice does say that the club would like to retain relievers LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Valverde, both of whom will be free agents after this year.
Houston started the season with close to a $103MM payroll according to Cot's, but they could shed $17.75MM by letting Miguel Tejada, Mike Hampton, and Darin Erstad walk as free agents. However, a significant chunk of those savings will probably end up being redistributed to Wandy Rodriguez and Hunter Pence, both of whom should receive big raises in arbitration (Pence will likely qualify as a Super Two).
In their effort to incorporate more youth into their lineup, Justice says we could see third baseman Chris Johnson, shortstop Tommy Manzella, second baseman Edwin Maysonet, and catcher Jason Castro in the Opening Day lineup next year. The team will also probably ask reliever Wesley Wright to come to camp next year prepared to compete for a rotation spot.