Offseason In Review: Houston Astros

The Astros are next in our Offseason In Review series.

Major League Signings

Notable Minor League Signings

Extensions

Trades and Claims

Notable Losses

Summary

It was a quiet offseason for Astros GM Ed Wade, who added some middle infield pop, extended Wandy Rodriguez, and acquired a few arms via trades and claims.

For about $7MM, Wade revamped his middle infield with Hall and Barmes.  Not many teams considered these players middle infield regulars, which might be a red flag.  Wade is taking an offensive-minded approach to second base and shortstop, and both players have 20 home run ability.  Of course, they both have .300 OBP ability too, so I'm not sure that the lineup will benefit much.  Once again, this appears to be an Astros lineup littered with easy outs.  Barmes, who broke a bone in his hand in March, is in line for a late April debut.

Barmes

I can't complain too much about the Hall and Barmes pickups, as they're not blocking anyone.  Still, the Rockies got the better end of the Barmes-Paulino swap.  Why would the Astros rid themselves of a 27-year-old with a 96 mile per hour fastball and 8.1 career K/9?  Barmes (pictured) was a non-tender candidate for Colorado.

The Astros' barren offense is a shame, because their rotation has the potential to be solid (early returns aside).  Myers and Rodriguez form a strong one-two punch, J.A. Happ and Bud Norris have flashed 4.00 ERA skills, and Jordan Lyles is one of the 50 best prospects in baseball.

Extending Rodriguez was a win for Wade, as Wandy would have been one of the better free agent starters available after the season.  The price was reasonable, though I'm not sure what conditions cause his $13MM option for 2014 to vest.  In the cases of Rodriguez and Brett Myers, the extensions could improve their trade value for certain suitors should Wade look to improve his farm system this summer.

The Astros have a consensus bottom-five farm system, which must be improved if the team is to return to prominence.  Grabbing a couple of arms to try in the Rule 5 draft made sense.  Lindstrom was traded for prospects, though his salary might have been the Astros' motivation in trading him.  I don't mind a non-contender having an unproven bullpen, but I hope Lindstrom's potential $3MM salary didn't force Wade to settle for less in trade. 

The Astros finally committed to a rebuild last summer, trading two of their best-known players in Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman (though neither had much trade value).  This summer Wade will face tougher decisions on whether to move Rodriguez, Myers, Hunter Pence, and Michael Bourn, making the team even worse in the short term for the greater good.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.


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15 Comments on "Offseason In Review: Houston Astros"


goner
4 years 4 months ago

As a Pirates fan who felt underwhelmed by their offseason moves, I feel better after reading this. Unfortunately, it’s still not a given that the Pirates will finish ahead of the Astros in the NL Central.

Best of luck to the Astros and their fans… if Wade does trade their few remaining good veterans and commit to a youth movement, it’s gonna get a lot worse before it gets better.

Rick Garcia
4 years 4 months ago

i can see myers or bourne being dealt at the deadline if they have a good first half id be suprised if pence was shipped somewhere

rovert22044
4 years 4 months ago

I don’t see Myers being dealt for some reason. Bourn? Maybe. Pence? Very little chance. He is a good all around baseball player.

$1742854
4 years 4 months ago

Astros got schooled on the Barmes-Paulino trade–why did they trade a power arm?

rovert22044
4 years 4 months ago

I have to agree with you… I really liked Paulino…

4 years 4 months ago

Pretty lack luster off season for the Astros, they need to get a new owner, and have some energy for the ballpark. Some how they have to dump Carlos Lee before he hits 10 and 5.

Signing Wandy was a solid move…

4 years 4 months ago

Getting rid of Lee is a problem, as he still has a partial no trade clause that excludes almost all teams in the AL. That’s a problem, given that he really ought to be a DH.

4 years 4 months ago

Ed Wade was hindered by the fact that the team is for sale. Paulino was traded because, presumably, the front office felt that he just wasn’t likely to resolve his control problems. Throwing hard gets people out at A ball; it doesn’t do much in the majors.

While the Astros have a “bottom five” farm system, it’s a huge improvement over a couple of years ago, when their farm system was a consensus #30. Their last three drafts have been good.

While Houston is a couple of years away from having anyone take them seriously, at least they’re not throwing big money at has-been free agents anymore.

While they didn’t do much this offseason, they also did no harm. That’s not a bad thing.

rovert22044
4 years 4 months ago

As a huge Astros fan, I really wish they would just go into rebuilding mode. Look at the Royals for example. They went into rebuilding mode a few years back, and now that have a packed team or future stars. I’m not saying the Astros will be the same, but I would rather us try than be a medicore (at best) team in the MLB. Here is what I think the ‘Stros should do:

– Get rid of Carlos Lee. I know it would be hard, and he doesn’t have that much value, but at least we can get something out of him.
– Trade Wandy Rodriguez. Though he is a decent pitcher, he has good value. I think we could get 2-3 prospects for him. And with the new contract he signed would really help finding a suitor.
– Explore trades for EVERY player on the team. Even though I would be upset if they traded Pence, Bourn, Myers, or Johnson, I think we should see what we can get for them. Some teams would give a lot for them (or at least HOPE they would).
– Finally, GO YOUNG. Anyone older, or on the down part of their career, trade them. Even if we “need” them now, we won’t when in a year or two.

This is what I would like the Astros to do. Basically, follow in the Royals/Pirates footsteps. Sure it will be a tough few years, but once it is over, we will be a good team with a revamped farm system with lots of potential.

But this is just my two cents…

GoAstros00
4 years 4 months ago

I doubt they’ll trade Bourn , Pence , Myers , or Johnson. Bourn is a gold glove center fielder and a good lead-off man. Pence is a good all-around player and trading him would make no sense. They don’t have anybody like Lincecum , Halladay , Webb , Lee , ect so Myers and Wandy are the best pitchers that they have. Johnson is a star waiting to break-out and I think he is their future star player. I think they should trade Carlos lee to an AL team. But the problem is Lee’s No-trade clause and the AL team itself.

rovert22044
4 years 4 months ago

I agree with all that, but seeing how the team is going + our horrible farm system, we may just have to.

4 years 4 months ago

All there veterans need to play well. It is very possible that we could get a huge haul if they do. Even though I would hate to see Pence and Bourn go, they could build up the greatest value and bring in a top prospect. If Carlos Lee gets smart, and realizes he needs to go play DH in the AL, He could bring in pretty good prospects and help a contender in the american league get to the play offs then the world series.

rovert22044
4 years 4 months ago

Gotta agree with ya. As much as I would hate to see Pence or Bourn go, it may be best for the team. I really want them to get rid of Lee, but it’s easier said than done. I guess we will see near the All-Star Break, or possibly next off-season.

Blue387
4 years 4 months ago

Crazy idea for trade: Hunter Pence to Atlanta for Eric Hinske, Craig Kimbrel and others.

GoAstros00
4 years 4 months ago

I wouldn’t go through with that trade. Not all.