The Astros are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:
Eligible For Free Agency (2)
- Carlos Lee – Lee appears to want to stay in Houston and the Astros will need a designated hitter next year when they move to the American League West. If he's willing to re-sign for a tenth of his 2012 salary ($18MM) maybe the Astros will be interested.
- Brandon Lyon – Lyon's hot start makes him a midseason trade candidate who could be gone before the offseason begins. Neither Lyon nor Lee should expect a qualifying offer from Houston next offseason.
Contract Options (2)
- Brett Myers: $10MM club option with a $3MM buyout. Option vests with approximately 55 games finished. A $7MM net cost might be a luxury for a rebuilding team, even though Myers could probably help Houston in 2013. He's another midseason trade candidate to keep an eye on.
- Chris Snyder: $4MM mutual option with a $500K buyout. Mutual options are rarely exercised by both sides. They sometimes exist to defer salary from one season to the next.
Arbitration Eligible (7)
- First time: Wilton Lopez, Wesley Wright, Bud Norris, Chris Johnson
- Second time: J.A. Happ, Jed Lowrie, Travis Buck
The Astros will face a relatively affordable class of arbitration eligible players. Happ ($2.35MM in '12), Lowrie ($1.15MM) and Buck ($580K) will obtain raises but will remain affordable. Lopez and Wright, two non-closing relievers, both figure to cost the Astros $1MM or so next year. I think Norris could earn $3.5-4MM via arbitration as a first-time eligible player if his strong season continues. There's a good chance the Astros' eligible players will return for a total of $15MM or less in 2013.
2013 Payroll Obligation
The Astros are spending approximately $61MM on payroll in 2012, their first season under owner Jim Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow. They only have $17MM in commitments for 2013, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. Expect Luhnow to have more payroll flexibility than he did last offseason when he transitions the team to the American League next winter.