Jim Crane (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

The Astros Could Have Less Money to Spend in 2014

On Monday morning baseball’s offseason will truly kick off with the General Manager’s meeting. Those will be followed up by the Owner’s Meetings.

And that is when we could find out that the Astros, and every other team, will have less spending money as they head out to build their 2014 team. Per Bill Madden’s report, the expected influx of cash team’s were expecting from the national TV deal, could very well be cut in half.

Meanwhile, much has been speculated about the influx of money from the new national TV contracts prompting all the clubs, even the small market ones, to spend more aggressively this winter. To that, however, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has said: Not so fast. At the owners meetings, which follows the GM meetings in the same hotel, Selig is expected to inform them that half of their approximate $25 million TV windfall per club, is instead going to be allocated to the clubs’ BELT fund which is essentially a “rainy day” mutual account to be used for whatever the commissioner deems pertinent.

My assumption is that when Jim Crane threw out his expected 2014 payroll, he was including the full $25 million in his calculation. So it is very possible that this impacts the budget Jeff Luhnow is given to work with as he looks to improve the Astros.

Conversely, the Astros are not the only team that this impacts, so it could bring the market down for some players. It might be that now the 2014 payroll will be on the lower end of the range that Crane gave, but the team should not be negatively impacted because the free agents they do sign will cost less.

The problem though, is that this will likely not impact the big market clubs as they look to improve their teams. One issue that the Astros might run into this winter is that the big market and big spending teams like New York Yankees, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, and Los Angeles Dodgers are looking to make a splash. You also have teams like the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, and St. Louis Cardinals to worry about.

Add in the fact that the free agent market is less than robust, and we could have some bidding wars on our hands. The last thing the Astros need to do at this point in their rebuilding is to overpay for anyone.

If the payroll next year is $49 million and not $59 million because of this, then I would understand. But Crane cannot use this as an excuse for a $35 million payroll.

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