Much has been made of the Astros shredding their 2013 payroll by trading players such as Bud Norris, Jose Veras and Jed Lowrie. As it stands, Erik Bedard is the only member of the team earning more than $1MM. However, as Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle reports, the team will be willing to spend on some outside resources this offseason.
Ortiz notes that the Astros have lost 15 games when leading after seven innings this season, which is likely one of the reasons why GM Jeff Luhnow told him that Astros will be looking to add some relief arms from outside the organization this offseason:
"We're going to make some investments in bringing in some players from outside the organization," Luhnow said, "with the goal in mind to help us be more competitive, to shore up the bullpen, maybe add another bat to the lineup and put these guys in a position where if they go out and give us enough innings, we've got the ability to score enough runs for them and finish the game and put a 'W' up there."
Ortiz adds that the team is pleased with the recent performances of young starters Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer, Brad Peacock and Paul Clemens. Clemens has made just three starts, but each of the others has an ERA of 3.38 or better since joining the rotation (or re-joining it, in Peacock's case). And of course, pitching prospects like Mark Appel and Mike Foltynewicz are on the horizon.
As far as position players go, Ortiz lists Jason Castro, Jose Altuve, Jonathan Villar, Matt Dominguez and Chris Carter as players beginning to form a relatively youthful core. Top prospects George Springer and Jonathan Singleton are nearly big league ready. It seems logical to assume that Singleton and Carter can handle first base duties, making corner outfield perhaps the best spot to add a new bat via free agency or trade (that's just my speculation of course).
Luhnow tells Ortiz that the team expects 2014 to be a "substantial step forward" in terms of on-field results and adds: "I think our fans have been very, very patient, and they deserve to see that next year."