Astros owner Jim Crane says that the club’s payroll could increase by about $20MM next year, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. Increased payroll availability does not mean that the team will use that cash, Crane cautioned, though he sounded willing to spend if it makes baseball sense.
“I think somewhere around [$20MM],” said Crane. “We’re not going to spend it to spend it. We’re going to try to spend it effectively and you know if we need to stretch a little, we’ll stretch a little. If there’s not a good reason to do that, we won’t do that. But you know we’ll continue to move up.”
Houston started 2014 with about $50MM in payroll on the books, meaning that the team could move into the $70MM range next year. The club has less than $18MM guaranteed heading into the offseason, but will need to pay arbitration raises to several players, including Dexter Fowler, Jason Castro, and Chris Carter.
Crane added that the club’s television rights fee situation will have a major role in setting future spending. “A couple of years ago we only got paid half of our rights fees,” he explained. “This year we didn’t get paid anything and this year hopefully we go back and get something paid for our coverage and it’ll have a big impact on what we’ll be able to spend on the team.” Specifically, Crane indicated that a nine-figure budget could be in the cards depending upon how the TV situation shakes out.
In terms of where that money might be allocated, Crane said that GM Jeff Luhnow would look to “add some more cornerstones.” As the team continues to work to add talent to its developing young core, Crane indicated that it might be expected to sign two or three major league free agents this year.