Houston enters the offseason this evening with two players eligible for free agency; Geoff Blum and Jason Michaels. Blum, a utility infielder, has a $1.65 million mutual option or can receive a $150,000 buyout. Jason Michaels, a career backup outfielder, has a club option of $900,000 or a buyout of $100,000 if he reaches 200 plate appearances.
Michaels has been with the Astros for two seasons and has hit .247 with 12 homeruns over 207 games. Lately, the 34 year-old has certainly been playing like he’s auditioning for a job next season. Over the last two weeks he’s hitting .321 with a homerun and a .974 OPS. In the right situations, Michaels can be a useful bat off the bench. He has a career average of .284 against left-handed pitching.
Geoff Blum has played over 500 games with the Astros and put up a .259/.317/.394 line and over the past 3 seasons, has played first, second, and third base as well as shortstop. I don’t need to explain how valuable that flexibility can be. However, with Jeff Keppinger and his team-leading OBP returning to play second-base, Chris Johnson entrenched as the third-baseman and either Tommy Manzella or Angel Sanchez filling a reserve role, I don’t think the Astros have a need for an aging back-up middle infielder. Especially when he’s set to make nearly $2 million. But it looks like Blum is trying his best to state his case to remain a ‘Stro. And can you blame him? Blum is 6 for his last 14 with a homerun and a 1.071 OPS.
Michaels is the most curious case as you’d expect the depth of the Astros outfield would render him useless. Lee, Bourn, and Pence are immovable and Bogusevic and Bourgeois are all but shew-ins to make the roster out of spring training. The real quesion, however, is why the Astros let Michaels clear his 200 plate appearance threshold. If they bring him back, we’ll wonder why they deem a 6th outfielder’s contributions worth $900,000 and if they don’t we’ll ask why they let him get 202 plate appearances. Were those three PA’s worth $33,333 apiece? My guess is probably not.