Teams in search of offense are keeping an eye on the Astros, tweets ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Stark adds that if Jon Singleton wins the first base job in Spring Training — he’s hitting .381/.458/.619 in an obviously small spring sample — and Evan Gattis is healthy, then DH/first baseman Chris Carter could become available.
It’d be a surprise to see Carter moved this close to the season when he’s expected to be a significant piece of their offsense. Still, the Astros do have a player with a similar offensive production in Gattis, who is considerably more affordable. Gattis will earn just over the league minimum in 2015 and isn’t arbitration eligible until next winter. Carter is earning $4.18MM in 2015 as a Super Two player and will only see his price tag rise, as he’ll be arb-eligible three more times before hitting free agency. Both are controlled through the 2018 season.
Were Gattis to shift to DH (presumably also filling in occasionally in the corner outfield, at first base and/or behind the plate), the team could deploy Colby Rasmus in a corner outfield spot and use Jake Marisnick’s excellent glove in center field, giving the club a much improved defense (albeit at the cost of some significant power).
The Astros, it would seem, have a few other bats that could be displaced by the offseason’s activity. Matt Dominguez has 20-homer power at third base but has struggled in terms of average and OBP over the past two seasons; offseason acquisition Luis Valbuena seems poised to take over his regular role at third base. Robbie Grossman has yet to carry his .304/404/.418 batting line from Triple-A over to the Majors and now looks at a crowded outfield mix involving Rasmus, Gattis, Marisnick, George Springer and Alex Presley (who could be squeezed out of playing time in his own right). Of course, these names are purely speculative, but the Astros do have crowded pictures in the outfield and in the infield, which could lead to some late-spring transactions. It should be noted that the 29-year-old Presley is out of minor league options, as well.