Houston Astros Rumors

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

Details On The Pursuit And Signing Of Andrew Miller

Southpaw reliever Andrew Miller is headed to the Yankees. GM Brian Cashman addressed the signing in a conference call, and his comments will appear shortly in a separate post.

Here are some notable links regarding the signing:

  • The Astros and Red Sox appear to have been the other finalists for Miller. Houston was in it “to the end,” Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. In fact, the Astros were the high bidder, and were the team that had a $40MM offer out for the lefty, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter.
  • There are conflicting reports on just how high Boston was willing to go. The team made a four-year offer that Miller “strongly considered,” according to Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com. On the other hand, GM Ben Cherington left Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link) with the impression that his club was not willing to bid up to the level of the Yankees and Astros, and may not have offered a fourth year. And Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald tweets that the Sox were not willing to guarantee the final year of the pact.
  • UPDATEThe Red Sox were willing to go to four years at a lower AAV, with more incentives involved, per a tweet from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. And indeed a four-year offer was on the table, Cafardo tweets.
  • The Dodgers were not willing to add a fourth year, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Contract length also played a role in the team’s decision not to push for Zach Duke, though Los Angeles had interest in him, Rosenthal adds.
  • One reason that the Yankees upped their bid for Miller was that the team found other possible upgrades to be too expensive, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. Cashman told reporters that the team added $4MM to its offer upon learning that Miller had $40MM on the table.
  • In an interview with Rosenthal, Miller explained that the Yankees were able to offer a total package that no other team could. Specifically, Miller said that he placed a high value on the fact that the Yankees train in the Tampa area, where he lives. He also feels comfortable staying in the AL East. “Money wasn’t everything,” Miller explained. The teams that negotiated with us were fully aware of that as well. In the total package, the Yankees had the best offer for me personally.” Miller added that the Astros made a very appealing overall bid.

AL West Notes: Astros, Iwakuma, Happ, Rangers

Astros GM Jon Daniels talked Winter Meetings with MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Among the topics were rumors surrounding Dexter Fowler and Jason Castro. Luhnow says teams have called on both players, but Houston is not actively seeking to deal either of them. Luhnow is particularly happy with his catching depth, which includes Castro, Hank Conger, Carlos Corporan, and Max Stassi. He also pointed out the club is open to trading prospects in the right deal, as they did with Jordan Lyles, Jarred Cosart, and Nick Tropeano.

  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik reiterated that pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma will not be traded, tweets Greg Johns of MLB.com. Iwakuma, 34 next season, has been excellent when healthy. Unfortunately, he’s also missed parts of two out of three major league seasons.
  • The Mariners are already receiving calls on recently acquired starter J.A. Happ, tweets Kevin Shockey of SportsRadioKJR.com. My guess is that teams are looking to gauge how the Mariners plan to use Happ. The southpaw quietly added two mph to his fastball last season and adjusted his repertoire as a result. Some clubs may view him as a possible breakout target.
  • One option to replace outfielder Michael Saunders is infielder Brad Miller, writes Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN Seattle. The club’s outfield coach called him a natural, and he does appear to be blocked by Robinson Cano, Chris Taylor, and Kyle Seager in the infield. Taylor is obviously the weak link of the trio. After a solid but flawed debut, he could relinquish the job back to Miller.
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels would like to add at least one more starter, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Another area of concern for the club – catcher – could be solved by a familiar face. When asked about former Ranger Geovany Soto (via Twitter), Daniels said “the door’s open.” Soto spent parts of the last three seasons as the Rangers backup catcher.

Andrew Miller Nearing Decision

TODAY, 7:59am: Miller is expected to make a decision today or tomorrow, an executive who had been involved with the bidding tells Sherman (Twitter link).

YESTERDAY, 10:00pm: The Astros appear unlikely to land Miller, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports.

9:40pm: New York appears to be willing to give Miller a fourth year, Heyman adds on Twitter.

8:08pm: The Yankees appear to be one of two or three finalists, Heyman writes. He says that the Dodgers seem to be back in the pack now, while the Astros remain a “possible threat.” The Red Sox, meanwhile, “seem to be out on Miller at the moment,” according to Heyman.

2:25pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Yankees do have serious interest in Miller, but their stance is much the same as it is regarding David Robertson: they’ll give three guaranteed years but are hesitant to lock in the fourth season.

1:38pm: Andrew Miller is moving closer to a contract that will guarantee him close to $40MM over a four-year term, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and the Yankees and Dodgers are two of the teams in play. Heyman writes that the Red Sox appear to be out of the bidding at this point, and Miller could reach an agreement within the next 48 hours.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports recently indicated that the Red Sox are still showing strong interest, and he also listed the Astros as a club with serious interest. The 29-year-old Miller is coming off an elite season in which he posted a combined 2.02 ERA with 14.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 62 1/3 regular season innings between the Red Sox and Orioles. He added 7 1/3 scoreless frames with an 8-to-1 K/BB ratio in the postseason as well.

The proposed figures would shatter the record for a non-closing reliever. Scott Linebrink previously signed a four-year, $19MM with the White Sox, which stands out as the largest guarantee. Tim Dierkes made a fairly aggressive four-year, $32MM projection back in late October, and it seems that Miller is poised to top that number.

Free Agent Notes: Melky, Ervin, Headley, Miller, Soto

The Royals have reached out to a familiar name in the form of Melky Cabrera, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It’s not clear if the Royals are able to afford Cabrera, who is said by Heyman to be seeking “at least” a five-year deal. He notes that the Reds have also contacted Cabrera’s camp. Additionally, Heyman lists the Mariners, Orioles and White Sox as speculative fits. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet tweets that the Blue Jays are still in touch with Cabrera as well. As many have pointed out, Toronto has just three outfielders on its 40-man roster at present. I profiled Cabrera in early October and projected a five-year deal worth just over $66MM.

Some more notes from the free agent market…

  • Also seeking a five-year deal is right-hander Ervin Santana, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney. Santana is among the best of the bunch in the second tier of free agent starters, and he’s been rumored to have mutual interest with the Royals. However, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets that the Royals’ comfort level is at three years with Santana. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes projected a four-year, $56MM contract for Santana.
  • Continuing on the theme of five-year contracts, Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York reports that the Yankees aren’t willing to give Chase Headley a five-year deal, and it’s believed by some that five years is now his asking price in the wake of both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez signing in Boston. An alternative for the Yankees, Matthews writes, is to play Martin Prado at third base regularly and give prospect Rob Refsnyder a chance to be the everyday second baseman.
  • The Yankees, Red Sox and Astros are all continuing to show strong interest in free agent lefty Andrew Miller, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Miller is believed to be headed for a four-year deal, and the Astros have been somewhat surprisingly linked to him and fellow top reliever David Robertson.
  • Geovany Soto is currently talking to five or six teams, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. A reunion between Soto and the Rangers is a definite possibility, per Cotillo. The free agent market for catchers has few options remaining, putting Soto in a relatively good spot.
  • Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that 10 teams, including the Tigers, have reached out to free agent righty Ronald Belisario after he was designated for assignment by the White Sox and chose to elect free agency (Twitter link). Belisario has a track record of success but struggled in 2014 despite maintaining his velocity and ground-ball rate.
  • Nyjer Morgan is eyeing a return to the Majors and has drawn interest from both MLB and Asian clubs, tweets Cotillo. The 34-year-old spent a bit of time with the Indians last season but had his Cleveland tenure cut short by injury.

2014-15 American League Non-Tenders

Major League clubs have until 11pm CT tonight to tender contracts to players for the 2015 season. We’ll run down the list of American League non-tenders here, and update it as reports come in. Remember that you can track all of the action using MLBTR’s Non-Tender tracker, and we offer a full list of non-tender candidates (in the estimation of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes). Also important for reference is the set of arbitration salary projections from MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz. Click here for an explanation of the process, and be sure to check out this piece featuring some interesting observations from Tim regarding non-tender considerations.

  • Slade Heathcott, Jose Campos, and David Huff have all been non-tendered by the Yankees, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter.
  • The Twins have tendered contracts to all arb-eligible players, per MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (Twitter link).
  • Third baseman Carlos Rivero is the only non-tender for the Mariners, the club announced. Rivero was not yet arbitration eligible.
  • The Astros have tendered contracts to all arb-eligible players, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports on Twitter.
  • The Royals have non-tendered lefty Francisley Bueno, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter. He was not yet eligible for arbitration.
  • As expected, the Tigers have offered arbitration to all eligible players, Anthony Fench of the Detroit Free Press tweets.
  • The Athletics have declined to offer arbitration to Kyle Blanks and Andrew Brown, the team announced. Both had previously been designated for assignment. Oakland will retain control over the remainder of its eligible players, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • As with several other clubs, the Rays will proceed without any non-tenders, the club announced (per a tweet from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times).
  • Likewise, the Orioles have tendered contracts to each of their eleven arb-eligible players, the team announced.
  • The Indians have tendered contracts to all five eligible players, per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (via Twitter). Cleveland had a fairly straightforward group. Indeed, Dierkes did not list any players as reasonable NT candidates.
  • Scott Snodgress and Scott Carroll have been non-tendered by the White Sox, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com tweets. Both players were pre-arbitration eligible, meaning that Chicago could have renewed them at the MLB minimum.
  • The Red Sox have non-tendered third baseman Juan Francisco but will otherwise tender contracts to all eligible players, the club announced (h/t to Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com, via Twitter). Francisco had already been designated for assignment, making this one of the day’s least surprising moves.

Trade Notes: Hamels, Fowler, Cespedes, Murphy

In the midst of a run of arbitration information, there were a few interesting reports on some trade situations percolating around the game. Let’s have a look …

  • The Phillies are conducting “intensive homework” on the Dodgers‘ minor league system in anticipation of trying to work out a deal involving Cole Hamels, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. The trade market for Hamels still seems to be in a holding pattern, along with much of the rest of the non-Jon Lester pitching market.
  • Dexter Fowler‘s name has come up in trade talks between the Blue Jays and Astros, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter link). Fowler, who projects to earn $9MM through arbitration (via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) in his final year of team control, would be an interesting potential add for Toronto. The 28-year-old switch-hitter is capable of playing center but could also line up in the corner. He has been a consistently solid performer at the plate, though defensive metrics have wavered on his value in the field.
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty says that his club has not discussed Yoenis Cespedes with the Red Sox, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports via Twitter. There has been some speculation recently about a possible match, fueled in part by a recent spate of rumors, but it appears that nothing is in the works in that respect.
  • There has not been much of any action surrounding Daniel Murphy of the Mets, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The second baseman may have a “greater perceived value” to his current club, and their fans, than to outside entities, Sherman suggests. New York may prefer to try other means of opening payroll flexibility now, holding onto Murphy and reassessing at the trade deadline.

NL Notes: Tomas, Liriano, Marlins, Harper, Braves, Gattis

The Phillies never made an offer for outfielder Yasmany Tomas, agent Jay Alou Jr. tells Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Alou said that the club was engaged throughout the process, but that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. gave the impression that he had to “clear salary” before he could put dollars on the table. “His hands were tied,” Alou said in reference to Amaro. For his part, Amaro said only that “it was clear the Diamondbacks valued him higher than we did.” The ownership group has not created any “impediments” to his baseball operations staff, he added.

More from the National League:

  • With a line of quality pitchers queuing up behind Jon Lester and company, the Pirates are staying engaged with their own outgoing free agents, Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter link). Dejan Kovacevic recently reported that the club hoped to return both hurlers, even after adding A.J. Burnett.
  • Indeed, Pittsburgh is making clear to agents of other free agent starters that Liriano is their top priority on the rotation market, according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports. Though the Bucs would stand to give up the sandwich pick they would receive were Liriano to sign elsewhere, he has been quite a valuable contributor to the team’s winning ways over the last two seasons.
  • The Marlins are unlikely to lock down any new extensions before the Winter Meetings, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com tweets, though that does not mean that the team is not making a legitimate effort to work out more deals. With offers on the table or soon to be delivered to several young players, the team appears to be making a push to follow the model that the Braves pursued last year.
  • Bryce Harper and the Nationals are headed towards a grievance in December to resolve the long-lingering question whether his contract permits him to opt into arbitration, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. (To understand the background, read this post from last November.) Rosenthal wonders whether the Nats would be better served not fighting the point, if the club hopes to have a shot at extending Harper.
  • As the Braves continue to weigh their trade options, the team is more likely to deal Justin Upton than to move both he and Evan Gattis, Mark Bowman of MLB.com tweets. The team has still not ruled out a scenario in which both players are traded, though that would obviously create quite a void in the middle of the team’s lineup.
  • Interestingly, the Braves had extended discussions earlier this offseason with the Astros about Gattis, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Atlanta wanted Houston to take a pairing of Gattis and the struggling B.J. Upton in a trade, but that involved too much payroll for the latter to stomach. The Braves expressed interest in both Dexter Fowler and Carlos Corporan in the talks. Rosenthal says that the original line of discussion faded, but that other talks involving Gattis could arise between the teams in the future.

Pen Notes: Robertson, Romo, Miller, Beimel, Burnett

Here’s the latest on the market for bullpen arms:

  • As the Jays look to make bullpen improvements that will align with the team’s other significant additions, the club has not ruled out a run at David Robertson, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). MLBTR’s Steve Adams predicted that Robertson would score a four-year deal that exceeds $50MM, and he seems within range of achieving that contract if he can push the bidding up to that fourth year.
  • If the Astros don’t land Robertson, the team could shift its sights to Sergio Romo, Heyman tweets. The 31-year-old had a down year, but still delivers strong strikeout numbers while holding free passes to a minimum.
  • The Astros also have interest in the market’s other top option, lefty Andrew Miller, per Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. He could be an alternative to Robertson as a closer target, the report indicates.
  • Another team with interest in Miller is the Yankees, with Joel Sherman of the New York Post confirming (via Twitter) the report from ESPN.com’s Buster Olney earlier today. As Sherman notes, New York has thus far declined to push into the four-year territory for Robertson, but may have to do so for Miller if the club hopes to be competitive. New York is also poking around the trade market for late-inning arms, per George A. King III of the New York Post.
  • Though the Mets have had at least some interest in lefty Joe Beimel in past years, he is not presently being considered, according to a tweet from Mike Puma of the New York Post. New York is one of many teams with at least one opening for a left-handed reliever.
  • Rehabbing southpaw Sean Burnett will not sign over the winter, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. The once-excellent Burnett has struggled through two injury-plagued campaigns with the Angels. He will target a return to the practice hill this spring, per the report, and hopes to be ready to sign during the upcoming season.

Quick Hits: Hunter, Fowler, Bargains

Here’s the latest from around the league.

West Notes: Robertson, Astros, Sandoval, Kennedy

The Astros are known to be seeking relief help and they might be aiming high.  Houston has reached out to Scott Leventhal, the agent for David Robertson, to express interest in the Yankees closer, an industry source told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.   Still, it’s not known whether the Astros are willing to approach the four-year, ~$52MM deal that Robertson is after.  More from the AL and NL West..

  • Giants vice president Bobby Evans told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) that they have not made a “final offer” to Pablo Sandoval.  While Evans would not confirm that their offer on the table is a five-year, $95MM deal as its been reported, he implied that it’s accurate (link).
  • The Padres are still receiving inquiries on pitcher Ian Kennedy, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com.  Kennedy is in his final year of arbitration eligibility and Matt Swartz projects that he’ll earn $10.3MM in 2015.
  • If the Rockies don’t upgrade their rotation, they’re in store for another 90-loss season, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.  The Rockies say they’re focused on developing young talent, but their history of developing pitchers has been awful.  Juan Nicasio, who was designated for assignment last week, is just the latest example of that.
  • While it may seem counter-intuitive, there is some merit to the idea of the Astros paying big money for a top closer, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.