Astros owner Jim Crane said today that the organization is prepared to add significant payroll space for GM Jeff Luhnow to work with, as MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports on Twitter. “We’ve got quite a bit of room if we need it,” he said. Houston had dramatically slashed its spending as part of its complete overhaul, but moved back over $70MM in Opening Day payroll last year, added salary via mid-season trades, and seems prepared for yet greater increases now that the club’s contention window has been thrown open. Then again, Luhnow himself has indicated that he does not see many areas of significant need entering the winter.
Here’s more from Houston and the rest of the AL West:
- Luhnow says that the Astros made a qualifying offer to outfielder Colby Rasmus in hopes that he’d accept it, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports on Twitter. “We obviously want to keep Colby,” he said. “So that’s the outcome that we’re hoping for.” That’s certainly interesting to hear, as it certainly would’ve been easy enough for Luhnow to answer the question diplomatically without stating so clearly that he has real interest in a reunion. (In many instances, of course, the qualifying offer is used simply as a tool to open the door to draft compensation.) Rasmus looks like a useful fit for Houston, but it had been presumed that the club would look elsewhere given the rising cost of the 29-year-old, especially after adding Carlos Gomez at the trade deadline. It’s not yet clear whether Rasmus will seriously entertain the offer, or whether the team will pursue Rasmus if he rejects it, but at a minimum it seems that the addition of a left-handed outfield bat of some kind would be of interest. Preston Tucker had a solid rookie effort last year, and might be the leading in-house option to take that role if Rasmus is not retained.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels says that Jurickson Profar is expected to enter spring playing shortstop exclusively, as Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Though Profar has been serving as a DH in the Arizona Fall League, leaving it somewhat unclear what the future might hold as he works his way back from serious shoulder issues, Daniels struck an optimistic tone. Saying that Profar is “close to kind of having this thing in the rearview mirror,” the GM expressed confidence in the 22-year-old’s ability to return to full strength while also adding that the organization will continue to tread carefully in ramping up his activities (particularly in the field). The club will keep an open mind about Profar’s use next year, but he seems likely to begin the season at Triple-A.
- The Mariners have hired former big league manager Manny Acta as their third base coach, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. Acta ran the Indians and Nationals dugouts previously and has more recently served as an ESPN analyst.