With New Year’s this weekend signifying roughly the halfway point of the offseason, I wanted to recap Houston’s activity on the Free Agent market thus far. In keeping with their youth movement, they’ve been pretty predictably quiet although a couple of the players they’ve added qualify as surprises. Thus far, the Astros have spent just $4.625 million on free agents. Last winter they eclipsed this number with one player when Brett Myers signed a 1-yr deal worth $5.1 million. However, that turned out to be one of the best bargains in the NL last season. Of the 30 major league teams, the Astros rank 25th in free agency dollars spent this offseason. Here is their breakdown:
$3MM contract for Bill Hall
$900K option for Jason Michaels
$725K contract for Ryan Rowland-Smith
With Jeff Kepping the incumbent second baseman and 2010 team leader in AVG and OBP, I was surprised to see Houston bring in Hall to be their everyday second baseman but Houston’s brass seemed obsessed with adding more pop to the lineup. Which isn’t a bad thing.
The Rowland-Smith signing was simply a roll of the dice to see if the lefty can prove a capable starter to round out the rotation and if not, could serve as an emergency spot starter and decent relief option. From 2007-2009, he had an ERA of 3.62.
The most surprising signing was probably that of Jason Michaels, the superfluous 5th outfielder. Michaels will make nearly a million dollars and doesn’t provide anything the Astros can’t get from their other backup outfield options, Brian Bogusevic, Jason Bourgeois, and Bill Hall. In two seasons with Houston, Michaels is hitting .246/.315/.452 and averaging just 160 at-bats per season. If the Astros can spend $900,000 on Jason Michaels, they better not fail to pay any draft pick a signing bonus and then tell fans they’re looking to the future. But no need to get too cynical yet. It’s New Years!