Monday is the deadline for teams to tender contracts. A number of players, mostly those that are arbitration eligible, will essentially get fired and become Free Agents. The Astros don’t have many non-tender candidates, but may seek to add a player or two that gets the axe.
Houston has only two arbitration eligible players on the current 40-man roster (Jason Castro & Raul Valdes). Castro is definitely part of the team’s future plans and will obviously be offered arbitration.
As for Valdes, an offseason waiver claim from the Phillies, the Astros appear to be committed to giving him a shot. The left-hander is currently pitching in the Dominican Winter League as a starter — even though he has come out of the bullpen in 92 of his 95 career big league games.
So, who might become available after the non-tender deadline? Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors put together this list of candidates last month. This is not an official list of Free Agents — just an educated guess of who is likely to be available. Some of these players will get contract offers and there will be others not appearing on this list that become available.
John Axford (Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)
The Astros are looking for corner outfielders and bullpen help, as well as a veteran starter. See anyone on this list that you like? Ray has already brought up the possibility of Drew Stubbs. The first name that jumps out at me is Andrew Bailey. But news broke today that the Red Sox have decided to keep the right-handed reliever. With Bailey off the market, the next best bullpen piece on the open market could be John Axford.
In the outfield category, John Mayberry and Travis Snider look like the type of players that might interest Jeff Luhnow and the Astros. In addition, Garrett Jones and Francisco Peguero have already been designated for assignment and could be acquired via trade.
As far as starting pitchers, Daniel Hudson is an interesting possibility — if you are looking toward the future. Hudson is coming off back-to-back Tommy John surgeries over the last two summers and will be rehabbing for the first half of the 2014 season. The former Diamondback won 16 games and pitched more than 220 innings in 2011 and should come at a bargain rate. Tommy Hanson, who has had two consecutive down years, is another reclamation project.
None of these players are going to save the franchise. But the Astros love to shop for bargains in the hope that they might hit the lotto. Maybe, just maybe, we can finally get lucky with one of these scrap-heap guys.