The Astros went into full blown rebuilding mode by trading Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence, and Michael Bourn over the last 15 months, and the team is now focused on youth and building from within. As part of that process, GM Ed Wade told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart that Houston is unlikely to be a major player in free agency this offseason…
"We'll do all the legwork we normally do and be prepared to read and react as opportunities present themselves, but I don't see us being major players in the free-agent market," said Wade. "I think the course we set out on actually a year ago with the Oswalt and Berkman trades, it's a course we have to continue to follow.
"We'll try to infuse as many young players into our situation as we possibly can and that being the case, we're committed to trying to stay young and build that core nucleus from within. I just don't see a scenario where we're major players in the market, but there could be opportunities to present themselves along the way that we have to be prepared for."
Wade also reiterated that he would like to re-sign Clint Barmes, but the team's "economic environment" probably will not allow them to do so. There is only one-year and $18.5MM left on Carlos Lee's contract, though the team still owes Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers a combined $39.5MM over the next two seasons. Jim Crane is awaiting approval from the other owners before he can finalize his purchase of the team from Drayton McLane, and he'll likely be faced with the opportunity of moving the team to the American League.
In our Offseason Outlook, Tim Dierkes mentioned that the Astros could import some relievers on one-year contracts with an eye towards flipping them at the trade deadline or recouping compensatory draft picks next winter. Houston will pick first overall in the 2012 draft after finishing with the worst record in the game this season.