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Olney: Astros expected to make a big splash this offseason

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  • #46
    Originally posted by H2O4me View Post
    If the Astros chose to go the route of total offense with the hope that some pieces of the rotation have, bounce back years, some have healthy years, and/or the youngsters prove they are ready to challenge for rotation time then Luhnow should make the following two moves:

    1. Trade for JD Martinez. Martinez answers the LF dilemma for 2017 and possibly 4 additional years at minimum if re-signed. JD provides both a matured and productive bat and enough defensive skills to handle LF.

    2. Sign Edwin Encarnacion. He's an answer for the respected power hitter that the Astros desperately need this season and going forward. Beltran is only signed for this season and it's a 50/50 chance that Beltran goes out like Ortiz or a player that held on for year too long. EE would provide an immediate answer at 1B and an even bigger answer at DH over a projected 4 season contract.

    These two additions would have a profound impact on the Astros offensively....probably making them the envy of MLB. Of course, these additions would force the Astros to bundle a veteran or two for additional pitching help in order ensure these hitter get plenty of AB's.

    If this move was made, my Mock lineup could look something like this:

    01. Bregman 3B
    02. Altuve 2B
    03. Correa SS
    04. Encarnacion 1B / DH
    05. Martinez LF / DH
    06. Beltran DH / LF
    07. Springer CF / RF
    08. McCann C
    09. Reddick RF

    10. Gurriel 1B / DH
    11. Aoki OF
    12. Gonzalez IF / OF
    13. Stassi C

    Starting Rotation:

    01. Keuchel
    02. McCullers
    03. McHugh
    04. Musgrove
    05. Morton

    06. Fiers
    07. Devenski
    08. Sipp
    09. Hoyt
    10. Harris

    11. Gregerson
    12. Giles

    **Note: There are plenty of young arms spread out over Fresno and Corpus that would be available for rotation and bullpen duty if called upon.

    **Note: Everyone should notice that Gattis is missing which means he would be packaged into a deal for another arm more than likely. If Gurriel and Fiers could be included in any deal it might be worth the look-see.


    • #47
      Jeff Passan ‏@JeffPassan
      This is a straight coup for Indians, whom Encarnacion fits perfectly. And considering how his market cratered, EE ended up in a great spot.

      The Edwin Encarnacion deal is not believed to include an opt-out. Encarnacion was trying to get one after one year.

      Source: Edwin Encarnacion's deal is actually $65M guaranteed. The $5M option buyout is on top of $20M a year he's getting for three years.

      Source: The three-year deal for Edwin Encarnacion includes a club option for $20M. The buyout is $5M, which is part of the $60M guarantee.

      Source: Encarnacion deal is three years and $60M.

      Source: Edwin Encarnacion has agreed to a deal with the Cleveland Indians.


      • #48
        Heyman: In strange market, after Encarnacion, dozen sluggers remain

        If not for the A’s’ surprise late involvement in the Edwin Encarnacion sweepstakes, people close to the situation say the Encarnacion derby might well have dragged into January, meaning the best of a bevy of good-to-excellent sluggers would still be on the market as we hit the new year, with spring training in sight.

        But as it turned out, Oakland’s stunning generosity helped seal the deal — for the Indians, as it turned out. Before the A’s stepped in, as first reported as a possibility by FanRag Sports, word is that Encarnacion was receiving loads of low-ball offers, in the $16-17 million range, presumably including one by eventual winner in the derby, the Indians, who might have been an even bigger surprise player than Oakland.

        Oakland’s offer, said by sources to have been a two-year deal for $50 million and yet another two-year guaranteed deal with a third-year team option that also included a one-year opt-out, forced the negotiations to come to a head. The A’s, with their shocking largesse, helped push the Indians to the $60 million, three-year deal that includes a fourth-year team option and buyout that ultimately won the day, and one of the best hitters in baseball.

        Encarnacion, who had originally told friends he wouldn’t even consider a West Coast team due to the lack of proximity to his native Dominican Republic and his extended family, is said to have seriously considered the A’s in the end. However, in the final analysis, Cleveland offered not only proximity but a clubhouse he knew extremely well and a team that came within a run of winning its first World Series since 1948.

        But now, even with Encarnacion off the market, there are at least seven sluggers expected to receive starting positions, nine who should get major-league deals and more than that of interest left on the market as we head to the new year. They range from stars like AL home run champ Mark Trumbo and long-time Jays superstar Jose Bautista (aka “Joey Bats”) to quality players like NL home run champ Chris Carter, 30-and-100 man Mike Napoli (“party at Napoli’s) and 20-plus homer men Michael Saunders, Pedro Alvarez and Brandon Moss, plus some very veteran former stars.

        It’s a weird year where one-inning pitchers got the two biggest contracts of the winter and proven star sluggers are still left out in the cold. Some, or many, may still do well. But a number of factors have hurt them, including the number of boppers on the market, the proliferation of home runs this year (everyone was hitting at least a few) and even the surprise signing of Eric Thames from Korea and the bigger surprise signing of Ian Desmond as a first baseman (and the Rockies say they mean it).

        The Orioles, Blue Jays and Rangers are very likely to land one of these sluggers (or another one in trade; Jay Bruce has been mentioned prominently in trades) while the Rays have been linked to at least Bautista and the Giants, Phillies, White Sox and Angels are said to be eying things from a comfortable distance, with the possibility to jump in.

        The Phillies prefer a left-handed hitter (they could also consider infielder Kelly Johnson, though word is they aren’t going the ex-Phillie route of Ryan Howard or Chase Utley), the Rockies are monitoring things, the Giants are talking a lot — at least publicly — about finding an in-house solution to left field and the Chisox and Angels involvement may depend on other moves, such as the trade of an outfielder.

        Here’s a rundown of the sluggers still to go on the market …

        1. Mark Trumbo

        Word is, he turned down a four-year offer early in the marketplace from the Orioles (the belief is that it was something in the range of $50 million-plus), and though they took that bid off the table, they have a history of returning to players after surveying the marketplace, as they did last year with Chris Davis.

        However, the marketplace has been established now as difficult for sluggers (for instance, once the Jays returned to talk contract with Encarnacion after removing their original $80 million, four-year bid, they were talking about one-year deals with him — though of course, by then they’d already given a three-year, $33 million deal to Kendrys Morales, which changed their equation).

        The Rockies have been suggested to be monitoring the Trumbo situation, and word is, a couple more opportunities may have cropped up. Whoever signs him gets a slugger who made big adjustments last year, can play first base or a corner outfield spot, and is a solid guy.

        2. Jose Bautista

        There’s been a report that he’d consider going back to the Jays if they beat the $17.2 million qualifying offer they extended and he turned down. But that seems pretty unlikely to happen considering there’s no suggestion the Jays are anxious to bring him back at the expense of the draft choice. If it becomes clear he isn’t signing anywhere by spring training, and perhaps if the draft choice becomes unlikely (it goes away after the June draft) the Jays might think about it.

        They beat the Yankees in attendance last year, as Encarnacion, Bautista and others brought considerable excitement. But there’s been a regime change, and that may have altered the equation. The Jays do have an admitted need in the outfield, though they’d prefer a left-handed hitter. They also have stayed in touch with Saunders, and they’ve looked into Moss, among many others.

        It would seem they’d have to sign someone, as they’ve lost 88 home runs without Encarnacion, Bautista and Saunders (though Morales makes up for just over a third of that).

        The Rays recently have been connected to him, and he lives in Tampa, so perhaps he’d be more inclined to give them a deal, and one competing agent suggests maybe Tampa could go for $30 million over three years. Let’s not forget what a big star Bautista has been, with a .910 OPS all his years in Toronto (even including the .817 mark he posted last year when he wasn’t always 100 percent). He’s obviously got a few things working against him, such as the draft choice and his age. But he’s a major talent, and from here it appears he’s been hurt by a misread of others. He is a confident, smart and intense guy, and that should be a plus, though some may seen that confidence as arrogance. Another big plus is that he’s willing to do whatever he can to win, including bat leadoff.

        3. Mike Napoli

        The Rangers, who have lost nearly as much with the defections of Ian Desmond, Carlos Belran and Mitch Moreland, are the logical team to start the parties at Napoli’s, and T.R. Sullivan of called the reunion a “strong possibility” recently. There is said to be the possibility of a “mystery team,” as well, for Napoli, who became a 30-100 man for the first time last year in his fun-filled season in Cleveland. He’s been a consistent winner everywhere he’s gone, making the high salaries he’s received via free agency seem worth it at each and every stop. He’s looking for two years. 4. Chris Carter

        The Orioles and Rockies are teams that have been tied to Carter, who tied Nolan Arenado for the NL home run lead (and Arenado had the big Coors Field advantage) but was still cut loose by the Brewers, who feared he’d get $9 million in arbitration and instead signed Eric Thames out of Korea’s KBO to a three-year, $15 million deal. Carter strikes out a lot, and the so-called flaws of these sluggers seem to have been amplified in a market with perhaps too many of them.

        5. Michael Saunders

        The Orioles are believed to have shown interest, and his old Jays team is in contact with him, as well, as are three or four more teams following a nice All-Star season in which he had 24 home runs and an .815 OPS but fell off in the second half (.638 OPS after the break).

        6. Pedro Alvarez

        He was a worthwhile late signing by the Orioles last year, and it would seem like Baltimore is a possibility again (along with possibly the Jays, among others). He is a consistent slugger who slugged at a .504 clip last year, but the question with him remains position. The man can rake, however.

        7. Brandon Moss

        Philly and Toronto have shown interest in yet another slugger who fell off in the second half (his decline was even steeper than Saunders’, with a disastrous final month in St. Louis). Overall, though, he hit 28 home runs. 8. Trevor Plouffe

        He was cut by the Twins. Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reported some interest by the Red Sox, and in this market, that may be his best spot, considering the uncertainty of the slimming Pablo Sandoval (he is down below 250 pounds, according to sources). He could also fit the Marlins or Yankees as a backup, but Boston may be his best spot.

        9. Adam Lind

        He didn’t have a great year in Seattle, but wasn’t the first one to suffer in Seattle. Not much buzz to this point.

        10. Luis Valbuena

        He can play first or third so he’d fit in the same spots as Plouffe — Boston, the Bronx and Miami.

        11. Ryan Howard

        No teams have been connected publicly to this point to the former Phillies superstar, and his most likely scenario may be a minor-league deal, or extremely low base.

        12. Justin Morneau

        In this market, it won’t be easy. But you have to admire the guy for fighting back after the issues with concussions.

        Around the majors…

        — There’s a lot of criticism of Encarnacion and agent Paul Kinzer for not immediately jumping on the Jays’ initial $80 million, four-year offer, but the reality is that while that was obviously quite a reasonable bid (and the highest one he’d receive, as it turns out; he also got one for $66 million and three years from the Astros) there is no one who would have taken that at that time.

        Everyone, including the Jays, was figuring Encarnacion would easily beat that bid, and the Jays moved quickly to Morales, presumably believing Encarnacion was going well past their price point when they suggested he test the market, which turned out less inviting than predicted and expected by everyone.

        One factor: some big-market teams were waiting on the new CBA at that time, and the Red Sox and others decided they didn’t want to go past the new $195 million luxury-tax threshold. While Encarnacion came into the winter preferring to return to Toronto, where he felt comfortable, he is said to have soured a bit on that situation because of the way things went, with the Jays canceling a meeting the first day of the Winter Meetings with him following their surprise signing of Steve Pearce, which further limited their interest in Encarnacion. The Indians were a surprise, but not necessarily a bad one. He is also very close to several Indians players in a very positive Latin-heavy clubhouse.

        — Credit to Indians ownership for stepping forward after their big World Series year, and spending some of the extra loot they made. Their team looks very formidable going forward.

        — Orioles GM Dan Duquette has made hay in recent years with late signings, especially of Nelson Cruz but also of Alvarez and others. Baltimore may do it again. They have been linked to their own Trumbo and Alvarez plus Michael Bourn (and can we rule out Matt Wieters entirely?), plus also Rajai Davis (via Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun), Angel Pagan and Saunders.

        — Chase Utley wasn’t included on the slugger list because he doesn’t strictly fit that description, but he did a nice job with the Dodgers last year and could still be a candidate to return if they don’t make a deal for Brian Dozier or another in-his-prime star.

        — The Dodgers would seem to remain the favorite to land Dozier, though the Cardinals, Giants and others have been linked to the Twins’ star. The Giants don’t have an obvious fit, though he’d represent an upgrade over current third baseman Eduardo Nunez, assuming they believe he could play third.

        Mark Saxon of ESPN St. Louis suggests the Cardinals aren’t “actively” involved at the moment, and they are saying nice things about Kolten Wong, for what that’s worth. Dozier is due to go to Minnesota at the end of January to pick up his Twins MVP trophy and participate in their fanfest. He remains a bargain at $15 million. But it makes sense for a team that won 59 games and lost 90-plus games five of the last six years to move an asset like Dozier while the value is high.

        — While the Jays have kicked the tires on Andrew McCutchen, one person said there’s “nothing serious” to those talks at this time. Whoever gets McCutchen is going to be pleased. One scout, predicting a “monster” year for McCutchen, says he’s the “hardest working and most determined” guy in the game.

        — The Padres are seriously considering Jered Weaver, who did, after all, lead the Angels in innings and wins (yes, 12 wins still count as an accomplishment even in an era where the win stat has been diminished). Jake Peavy, Colby Lewis and a couple other vets are on their shopping list as well. Peavy would love a return to San Diego, site of his Cy Young and much glory, and he’s only 35. My hunch is both Weaver and Peavy have something left, despite the detractors.

        — It’s no surprise that some suggest the Dodgers are being “stingy” with their top prospects in talks for veteran players, as LA values their top minor leaguers high. They made the right calls to keep NL Rookie of the Year Corey Seager and lefty phenom Julio Urias. But they are willing to part with righty Jose De Leon for Dozier. They are not willing to include top first base prospect Cody Bellinger or top young pitchers Walker Buehler or Yadier Alvarez along with De Leon.

        — There was a suggestion Joe Blanton could find a deal soon, but others are finding the relief market “frozen” at the moment. Several fine relievers remain, including Greg Holland, Sergio Romo, Santiago Castilla, Travis Wood, Jerry Blevins, Boone Logan. J.P. Howell, Neftali Feliz, David Hernandez, Joe Smith, Drew Storen, Fernando Salas and others.

        — Good job by the Braves to lock up Ender Inciarte, a winning player, to a $30.525 million, five-year deal, and Inciarte is said to be “thrilled.” Not sure if he’s the best center fielder in the game, as they trumpeted upon signing him, but he’s one of the best center fielders, and also one of the best baserunners. Tough to turn that down, though, as he’s not a power hitter or .300 hitter.

        So, in recap, for a year of Jason Heyward and two of Jordan Walden, between the two trades (including the one that sent Shelby Miller to Arizona), the Braves got one year of Miller, six years of Dansby Swanson, seven of Inciarte and six of Aaron Blair (plus, they signed Walden back on as a non-roster invite).

        — The Phillies’ $35 million, five-year deal with Odubel Herrera is even better, considering the extra power he brings.

        — Jason Hammel’s winter agent change sends a bad signal that things aren’t going great, and the new agents at ACES should know that doesn’t help their new client. The Mariners showed early interest, but they are also investigating trades.


        • #49

          'Stros of Crush City @Astros_Arsenal
          Peter Gammons just said on MLBN Luhnow went to Rays and said Tucker/Martes/Paulino + 2 more prospects for Archer.

          Rays said no. Very surprising


          • #50
            Astros avoid arbitration with Dallas Keuchel, George Springer, Jake Marisnick

            The Astros and lefthander Dallas Keuchel avoided an arbitration hearing by settling Friday on a one-year contract for 2017 worth $9.15 million.

            The salary represents a raise of $1.9 million for Keuchel, who took a hit because of his regression in 2016 after his Cy Young Award-winning season in 2015. had projected Keuchel to make $9.5 million through the arbitration process, which takes into account a player's previous seasons in addition to the most recent.

            Keuchel, 29, is eligible for one more year of arbitration next winter before qualifying for free agency following the 2018 season. The $7.25 million he and the Astros settled on for 2016 set a record for a first-time arbitration-eligible starting pitcher.

            The performance of Keuchel will be one of the keys to the Astros' 2017 season. He struggled in his encore campaign, posting a 4.55 ERA in 26 starts before a shoulder injury ended his season in early September.

            The Astros also on Friday settled with their two arbitration-eligible outfielders, George Springer and Jake Marisnick. Springer will make $3.9 million next season and Marisnick will make $1.1 million. Both are in the first of four years of arbitration eligibility because of their Super Two status.


            • #51
              Trade for frontline starter looking less likely for Astros

              Twenty minutes into a question-and-answer session with general manager Jeff Luhnow on Saturday, Astros fan Mike Bray broached the topic on everyone's minds.

              "So, Jeff, are you still talking trades," asked Bray, 66, who occupied a second-row seat for the forum, part of the Astros' annual FanFest at Minute Maid Park.

              Luhnow's response, while answering the question, wasn't exactly revealing. The Astros talk trades "all the time," the GM assured Bray before tempering expectations some: "I don't know if anything's going to happen," he said, "but I do know that we constantly are looking for opportunities to improve the club."

              As spring training looms, however, it looks less and less likely Luhnow will land that coveted frontline starting pitcher to pair with Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers. Yet to find common ground for a deal with the Chicago White Sox for Jose Quintana or the Tampa Bay Rays for Chris Archer, the Astros barring a surprise will begin spring training with the same rotation uncertainty with which they entered the winter.

              Speaking to reporters Saturday for the first time since the winter meetings in early December, Luhnow acknowledged that the Astros' current roster is "probably the roster that we're going to have to start the season."

              "We're always open to considering ways to improve it, but right now I'd set the expectations low that there's going to be any major changes," he said. "We've got a good roster of guys that I think can compete for the division title this year."

              Whether the Astros have enough starting pitching to make a run at the World Series is the question that will trail them until they prove otherwise. Injuries prematurely ended last season for each of their top two starters, Keuchel and McCullers, and when healthy enough to pitch Keuchel had a 4.55 ERA in 26 starts a year after winning the Cy Young Award.

              If healthy, Keuchel, McCullers and Collin McHugh are locks for the Astros' rotation this season. Newcomer Charlie Morton is penciled in as their fourth starter, but the team would like to see the oft-injured righthander solidify that spot in spring training.

              Joe Musgrove and Mike Fiers, then, would be left to compete for the fifth spot with Chris Devenski lurking as a wild card. (The Astros plan for Devenski to begin spring training as a starter but have yet to determine his role for the season.)

              Francis Martes, the Astros' top pitching prospect and one of their best trade chips, will be waiting in the wings, probably beginning the season in Class AAA.

              "We feel like we've got enough depth in the rotation that we'll have five guys in our rotation that are going to be able to compete every night, and our offense is going to keep us in games," Luhnow said.

              "So, I think we're in a good spot. It doesn't mean I don't consider opportunities to bring someone in that can slot toward the middle or top half of our rotation. … I'm not expecting anything to happen, but it's something that we definitely consider on an ongoing basis."

              The Astros have the option of reassessing the starting pitching market before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, when the prices should be slightly less than this winter.

              But there's a lot of season between April 3 and July 31, and until the Astros pay the premium to acquire another frontline starter the same questions will persist.

              "Once we start the season and see how our guys are doing, then obviously we react," Luhnow said. "If we feel like we need to go out and get somebody, we'll make that happen. But if we don't (feel that way), then we probably saved ourselves a few prospects."


              • #52
                Owner Jim Crane, Astros focused on Jose Quintana and Sonny Gray with new draft picks in tow

                The compensation pick could loom large for the Astros in pursuit of pitching.

                by Ryan Dunsmore
                The Houston Astros pursuit of pitching this offseason came to a scratching halt with the Chicago White Sox asking price for Jose Quintana. But the addition of the $2 million and two picks from the St. Louis Cardinals could reopen the conversation — at least Astros owner Jim Crane feels that way.

                Crane spoke with USA Today's Bob Nightengale while Crane was touring the Astros’ new Spring Training at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches this week. A portion of that conversation turned to the Astros needs entering the 2017 season and the pursuit of pitching upgrades.
                They opened their checkbook and brought in All-Stars Carlos Beltran, Brian McCannand Josh Reddick, and now plan to grab one more starting pitcher. They have been primarily focusing on Jose Quintana of the Chicago White Sox and Sonny Gray of the Oakland Athletics, Crane says.
                The biggest change for the Astros was the second pick that came over from the Cardinals — No. 75 pick in the competitive balance round B. Teams can trade competitive balance draft picks.

                A draft pick could be more valuable to a team that rebuilding like the White Sox or A’s.

                How would that change the White Sox’s asking price? It could help make headway from Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker, and Joe Musgrove, the reported original asking price.