Houston Astros Rumors

Houston Astros trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Infield Market Rumors: Monday

With Pablo Sandoval off the board, attention on the third base market has shifted to Chase Headley. But Jed Lowrie also could be an option at the hot corner (as well as at short and second). He took a step backward last year in the power department, but has a lengthy track record of legitimate pop. Better still, the 30-year-old managed to stay on the field after some injury issues in his past.

Here’s the latest on the infield market:

  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter) hears that Headley will make his decision by the end of the Winter Meetings.  There are three or four teams bidding on him right now, including the Giants and Yankees.
  • It’s not just the starting pitchers that are waiting for Jon Lester to sign, tweets Sherman.  Headley is also up in the air because the Giants won’t know how much they can afford to spend until they know whether they can sign Lester.
  • The Giants will consider Lowrie at third if they can’t land Headley, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter links). As for Headley, four years at a $11MM to $12MM AAV is probably too rich for San Francisco, Crasnick adds.
  • Another National League squad, the Marlins, could also have interest in Lowrie as an option at a position other than shortstop, per another Crasnick tweet. Miami is “exploring” the market at those positions. Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill and GM Dan Jennings told me last month at the GM Meetings that the team feels comfortable with its internal options at the keystone but would consider sensible upgrades.

Earlier Updates

  • The Astros have at least “kicked the tires” on Headley as an option at third base, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets.
  • Lowrie is indeed willing to play elsewhere in the infield, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. That face makes him a solid fit for the Astros, where he could keep the seat warm for Carlos Correa at short before eventually sliding to third, or possibly move to hot corner right away while providing some insurance up the middle.
  • The Astros have been pursuing Lowrie, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Houston dealt Lowrie to the Athletics before the 2013 season. For Houston, Lowrie could conceivably fill in at short, third, or both over the life of a hypothetical deal. I noted the Astros as a possible landing spot in Lowrie’s free agent profile, in which I also predicted he could score a three-year deal at a $10MM AAV.

West Rumors: Trumbo, Montero, Cabrera

Even though Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart said last week that he will not trade Mark Trumbo, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter) hears that he is still in play for Arizona.  There was once talk of a three-way deal involving Trumbo that fell through but he remains available. A look at the AL and NL West..

  • Tony La Russa said the the Diamondbacks had talks with the Dodgers about Miguel Montero but they never had a deal in place, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com (via Twitter).
  • The Mariners are pondering a wide range of possibilities for an outfield bat, including trades, and they’re not locked in on Melky Cabrera at this point, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today that the M’s are the favorites for the outfielder.
  • Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson has switched agents and joined Excel Sports Management, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).
  • Despite being connected to him, the Astros did not seriously pursue Jason Hammel, according to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). They did make an inquiry, however.  Hammel ultimately returned to the Cubs on a two-year pact.

AL West Notes: Masterson, Rangers, Cabrera

The very latest from the AL West..

  • The Rangers have made their first real bid for a starting free agent pitcher by extending a contract offer to Justin Masterson, a source tells Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News.  The market for the hurler is robust, however, so there might not be anything imminent on that front.
  • The Mariners appear to be the favorites on Melky Cabrera, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Heyman adds that the idea that Cabrera would prefer to avoid going out West appears to be a non-factor now and sources say that he’s fine with it.  The White Sox, Giants, and Royals have also been linked to Cabrera, but Seattle appears to be the team to beat at this time.
  • Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow says he is “absolutely” open to bringing Jose Veras back, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes.  Veras has previously stated his desire to return to Houston.


Pitching Notes: Miller, Giants, Cards, Masterson, Axford

Before he joined the Yankees, the Astros actually offered Andrew Miller a deal that included not only four guaranteed years but also a fifth-year option, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. It remains to be seen how Houston will reallocate the funds it had earmarked for the lefty.

  • If the Giants miss on Jon Lester, they are more likely to go to the next tier of free agent pitchers than to go all out for Max Scherzer, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). San Francisco could aim for options of the ilk of Ervin Santana and Francisco Liriano, says Shea, though it is not clear if those illustrative names or particular targets.
  • The Cardinals met with Scherzer at some point over the offseason and are at least weighing a run at him, Jon Heyman of CBSSportscom reports. It remains something of a longshot that Scherzer will land in St. Louis, Heyman notes, though the fact that he is from the area can’t hurt.
  • The Red Sox met with Justin Masterson over the weekend, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports on Twitter. The Twins, meanwhile, have not managed to gain traction with Masterson’s camp, Wolfson adds.
  • The MarlinsWhite Sox, and possibly Cubs will also sit down with Masterson in San Diego, Heyman reports.
  • Reliever John Axford has drawn interest from the Reds, though nothing is close and there are other teams involved, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.

Angels Claim Marc Krauss From Astros

The Angels have claimed outfielder/first baseman Marc Krauss off waivers from the Astros, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports on Twitter.

Krauss, a left-handed-swinging 27-year-old, will provide a bench option for Los Angeles. He owns a .200/.274/.341 line through 354 plate appearances over the last two seasons.


White Sox Interested In David Robertson

The White Sox are the latest team to express interest in closer David Robertson, George A. King III of the New York Post reports.  “They like him a lot and he is definitely on their radar,’’ a source tells King. “They have several things they want to do and he is one of them.”

Robertson is looking for a contract in the four-year, $50MM range and the Sox are reportedly “aren’t blanching” over the idea of giving the closer that big a guarantee, King writes.  Chicago’s first round pick (eighth overall) is protected, so they’d only have to give up their second-rounder as compensation to sign Robertson, who rejected the Yankees’ qualifying offer.  Robertson would provide a major boost to a White Sox bullpen that posted a cumulative 4.38 ERA in 2014, the third-highest mark in baseball.

The Astros, Blue Jays and Yankees are three of at least a half-dozen clubs who have shown interest in Robertson, though King cites reasons why all three could bow out of the race.  The Jays may not be willing to meet Robertson’s asking price, the Astros “don’t believe Robertson wants to pitch for them” and the Yankees would prefer to give their former stopper a deal closer to the $40MM threshold.  New York had also been hesitant to give Robertson more than three guaranteed years, though the team “may be softening” in that respect.


AL West Notes: Gregerson, Astros, Beckham, Wilson

Luke Gregerson could be a sensible addition to the Astros‘ bullpen, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes. The former Athletics reliever doesn’t have a significant track record as a closer, but he worked with new Astros manager A.J. Hinch when both were with the Padres, and he might only require a three-year deal, as opposed to four for David Robertson. While Andrew Miller‘s new deal with the Yankees took deals for non-closer relievers, Drellich expects that Gregerson’s contract will be much more manageable. Here’s more on the AL West.

  • The Angels would like for recently non-tendered infielder Gordon Beckham to return next season, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Beckham, however, would like to see if he can find a starting job elsewhere before taking a backup infield job with the Angels.
  • The Angels are expecting a quiet Winter Meetings, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes. Their $8MM deal for infielder Roberto Baldoquin figures to be their largest expenditure this offseason. They also traded catcher Hank Conger to the Astros for pitcher Nick Tropeano and catcher Carlos Perez in another low-profile move. “I understand the fan base isn’t thrilled because they never heard of Nick Tropeano, but this time last year, they weren’t thrilled with what we did to shuffle the roster either,” says GM Jerry Dipoto.
  • The Angels do reportedly have C.J. Wilson on the trading block, but don’t expect the Rangers to bring him back, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. C.J. Wilson was a fixture in the Rangers’ bullpen for parts of five seasons before emerging as a top starting pitcher there in 2010 and 2011.

West Notes: Kemp, Cabrera, Kendrick, Upton

With the Winter Meetings beginning in San Diego, this could be the week the Dodgers finally deal from their glut of outfielders, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The Dodgers would prefer to hang onto Matt Kemp, according to Shaikin, but Major League players are not being offered for either Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford.

Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports the Mariners were close to a deal for Kemp with Seattle paying roughly half of the $107 million remaining on his salary over the next five years, but things fell apart when the Dodgers insisted on the inclusion of either Taijuan Walker or James Paxton. In a second article, Dutton lists the Padres and the Orioles as the Mariners’ primary competition for Kemp, with Shaikin adding the Giants are a possibility, if they fail to sign Chase Headley. With Nelson Cruz now in Seattle, Dutton opines the Mariners’ interest in Kemp will depend on what other offers the Dodgers receive. Those other offers may not be to the Dodgers’ liking, as Shaikin notes the Braves (Justin Upton and Evan Gattis), Red Sox (Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig), and Phillies (Marlon Byrd) also have right-handed power bats available to trade.

Elsewhere in baseball’s West divisions:

  • Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says the constant rumors that come with running a major market team are “comical,” but he doesn’t necessarily mind it, writes Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. “Misinformation can be a powerful tool,” Friedman said.
  • The Mariners are reluctant to part with their young pitching to acquire an outfield bat, according to Dutton. “That’s a little bit of a dangerous road,” said GM Jack Zduriencik. “You look at our pitching staff, and when you analyze it, a couple of those young starters didn’t pitch a lot of innings last year.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets the Mariners are very serious about their pursuit of Melky Cabrera. Last week, it was reported the M’s are believed to be willing to offer something similar to the four-year, $57MM deal that they used to sign Cruz.
  • In a separate tweet, Rosenthal posits the Angels are reluctant to trade second baseman Howie Kendrick because of offensive concerns including uncertainity about Josh Hamilton, an unsettled DH situation, and no clear backup catcher.
  • Sources tell ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter) the Giants and Reds are great fits for Justin Upton, but neither match up well with the Braves and may need to involve a third team to swing a deal.
  • Olney also tweets the Astros continue to pursue closer David Robertson and his most lucrative offer might come from Houston.
  • Rockies GM Jeff Bridich tells Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post there has been interest in catcher Wilin Rosario, but Colorado “could very easily go into the season with Wilin.

Minor Moves: Maxwell, Gearrin, Turley, Tigers

Here are the latest minor league transactions from around baseball….

  • The Giants signed outfielder Justin Maxwell, righty Cory Gearrin and lefty Nik Turley to minor league contracts, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports (Twitter link).  Maxwell received significant playing time with the Astros and Royals in 2012-13, but he posted only a .397 OPS over 45 PA in 2014 as Kansas City moved on to other outfield options.  He elected to become a free agent in October.  Gearrin posted a 4.28 ERA, 8.8 K/9, and 2.06 K/BB rate in 69 1/3 IP out of the Braves bullpen from 2011-13 and missed all of 2014 due to Tommy John surgery.  Turley, a 50th-round draft pick for the Yankees in 2008, has a 3.41 ERA, 8.3 K/9 and 2.1 K/BB rate over 551 1/3 career minor league innings in New York’s system.
  • Also from Eddy, the Tigers signed right-handers Rafael Dolis and Alberto Cabrera to minor league contracts.  The two righties are both 26 years old, both originally signed amateur contracts out of the Dominican Republic with the Cubs and both last pitched in the majors in 2013.  Cabrera has a 5.20 ERA over 27 2/3 IP in the bigs, while Dolis has a 5.48 ERA over 44 1/3 IP.  (Dolis spent last season with the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate.)
  • The Rockies signed left-hander Buddy Boshers to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports.  Boshers’ Major League resume consists of 15 1/3 relief innings for the Angels in 2013, and the 2008 fourth-rounder has a 3.67 ERA, 2.43 K/BB rate and 448 strikeouts over 446 1/3 IP over seven seasons in the Angels’ farm system.
  • Right-hander Anthony Bass has elected to become a free agent, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports (Twitter link).  Bass was outrighted off the Astros’ 40-man roster last month.  As Drellich notes, Bass was hampered by an intercostal strain in 2014 and only pitched 27 innings for the Astros, posting a 6.33 ERA and an equal amount of strikeouts (seven) and walks.
  • The Indians signed catcher Adam Moore to a minor league deal that contains a Spring Training invitation, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link).  Moore appeared in 60 games with the Mariners in 2010 but has since appeared in only 20 Major League games scattered over the last four seasons with Seattle, Kansas City and San Diego.  The Padres outrighted Moore off their 40-man roster last month.
  • The Angels signed left-handers Adam Wilk and Edgar Ibarra, the team announced (via Twitter).  Wilk, 26, appeared in eight games with the Tigers in 2011-12 and has since pitched in South Korea and for the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate.  Ibarra is only 25 years old but already has nine years of pro experience, posting a 4.13 ERA, 2.03 K/BB and 7.8 K/9 over 654 innings in the Twins’ minor league system.

Free Agent Notes: Top Pitchers, Rios, Royals, Everth, Astros

With the Winter Meetings nearly upon us, ESPN’s Jayson Stark spoke to nine baseball executives regarding the “Big Three” starting pitchers on this year’s free agent market — Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields — and asked when and where they will sign. While answers as to when Scherzer will sign varied, there was a much tighter window on Lester, with all nine believing he will sign between Dec. 8 and Dec. 13. The execs polled by Stark feel that Shields’ market is tied so closely to Lester that he will sign within two weeks of Lester and perhaps even as soon as next week’s Winter Meetings. Many identified Shields as a fallback for teams that miss on Lester. Execs picked Lester to sign with the usual suspects at this point: the Red Sox, Cubs, Giants or Dodgers. Interestingly, Scherzer’s landing spot was predicted to be the Yankees, Nationals, Cubs or Tigers, by the five who were willing to wager a guess on that outcome.

A few more notes pertaining to free agency…

  • The MarinersRoyals, and Indians have all checked in on Alex Rios, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Rios, who joined the Boras Corporation earlier this offseason, has had a fairly quiet market to this point, though one would expect interest to pick up now that Nelson Cruz, Torii Hunter and Yasmany Tomas are off the market.
  • The Royals are looking for a right fielder and a starting pitcher but likely only have the available funds to make a “significant” investment in one of the two areas, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The Royals may have to bargain shop for the other, he notes. Kansas City has invested a modest amount of its available funds to the bullpen in the past week, re-signing righties Jason Frasor and Luke Hochevar. However, it’s at least worth noting that Hochevar’s contract reportedly contains performance incentives tied to starting (though it also contains relief incentives).
  • Though the Mets are in need of a shortstop, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin writes that recently non-tendered Padres speedster Everth Cabrera is not a consideration. Though he’s talented and has twice led the NL in stolen bases, Cabrera has a good deal of off-field issues on his record, including a 50-game PED suspension and more recent legal issues, as he’s been charged with resisting arrest after being stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. (Cabrera plead not guilty to those charges today, per the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Jeff Sanders.)
  • Lefty reliever Craig Breslow is drawing significant interest, but his timetable to sign is currently dependent on the rest of the relief market, tweets WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. Breslow is coming off a down season but has a strong track record. Interest in Breslow and other relievers could intensify now that Andrew Miller is off the board, I would think.
  • Though the Astros missed out on Miller even after offering him more money than the Yankees did, they’re still on the hunt for relievers, tweets Heyman. Houston remains interested in David Robertson, Sergio Romo and others.