Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said today that the team is prepared to address its needs in free agency, as MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports (Twitter links). Houston would prefer the open market to the trade route, he added.
Aiding the ’Stros efforts to return to the postseason will be an enhanced war chest. Owner Jim Crane has given the front office a “go-ahead to increase our payroll and make the investment we need to make,” said Luhnow.
He has previously suggested as much, so this isn’t particularly surprising, but it’s worth noting the extent to which Luhnow emphasized the organization’s desire to add via free agency. “I really think we want to keep this group together and use other resources,” Luhnow said of the possibility of dealing from the Astros’ prospects to bolster the major league roster.
As MLBTR’s Connor Byrne wrote recently, Houston enters the offseason with a variety of needs. The rotation could stand to improve, the pen needs another lefty, the outfield may be targeted even after the acquisition of Nori Aoki, there’s a need behind the dish, and it’s certainly possible to imagine the club adding at first base.
The Astros will presumably boost their payroll over $100MM this year after coming in just shy of that mark in 2016. Houston already has $34MM on its books for 2017 and projects to pay about $30MM in arbitration salaries. That leaves a significant amount of room to add to the books, particularly since the team has little in future commitments on the books.