Jacoby Ellsbury (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)
For the most part, this off-season has been moving at a snails pace. Across baseball player movement has been increasing in frequency, but that has not been the case for the Houston Astros. So the question then, is why?
It might boil down to a player that the Astros are not even pursuing. Aside from Robinson Cano whose contract negotiations seem to be taking place in a whole different universe, Jacoby Ellsbury is the best and most expensive free agent. Together with Scott Boras, Ellsbury will be setting the market for the other free agent outfielders as well.
There were some rumblings earlier in the off-season tying the Astros to Shin-Soo Choo, but there has not been much talk about that lately. The majority of rumors out there have the Astros in the market for both Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson.
The Mariners are also in the market for Ellsbury, and according to Cerrone the White Sox are not as interested in either outfielder as they once were.
Chris Young, who was also a possibility for the Astros, also just signed a $7.25 million contract with the Mets, so it also remains unclear how much money they will be willing to spend on Cruz or Granderson. With that being said, it appears the Astros have a decent shot at improving their outfield.
Astros fans are well within their rights to be lacking patience with the lack of player movement this off-season considering how bad the team was last season, how low the payroll was, and more importantly, Crane’s promise to substantially increase payroll.
But this very well could be why. It would be bad business for Luhnow to sign either player without first seeing the contract terms Ellsbury agrees to. And that also works for the players as well.
The good news, is that Ellsbury might be closer than we think to signing. And once he signs, maybe then we can see how serious Crane is about improving the Astros.