Winter Meetings end quietly for Astros


The Baseball Winter Meetings came to a close this morning. For Astros fans, it was a bit anticlimactic. Fans hoping to see the Astros add another player through Free Agency the Rule 5 Draft were left wanting.

The Astros had the first overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft and were expected to add a bullpen arm. But, as part of Wednesday’s trade with the San Diego Padres that brought Anthony Bass to the organization, the Astros sent their pick to the Padres. Houston selected Patrick Schuster out of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ organization and immediately shipped the lefty to San Diego. The Padres and Astros both passed on subsequent picks and the deal was complete.

Anthony Bass (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

But the Rule 5 Draft wasn’t a complete disaster for the Astros. In fact, there was actually some good news. Houston didn’t lose any prospects. Unprotected players like Jake Buchanan and Carlos Perez, who looked like attractive pieces for other teams, went undrafted and will stay in the organization. Also, acquiring Bass in lieu of a Rule 5 pick gives the Astros more flexibility. Unlike any player selected in the Rule 5 Draft, Bass still has minor league options available this season.

In addition, the Astros picked up a total of three players in the minor league portion of the draft. Ravel Santana, a toolsy outfielder from the Yankees organization, was selected in the AAA phase. Lefty reliever Carlos Vazquez and knuckleballer Blaine Sims were also added.

On the Free Agent front, the Astros were rumored to be in serious negotiations with Mike Morse. The slugging OF/1B was coming off a down year, meaning his price tag could be within the Astros budget. Morse had a couple of big years in Washington while Bo Porter was on the Nationals’ coaching staff. Porter was rumored to be pushing hard for the Astros to acquire Morse who, by all accounts, was a tremendous presence in the Nats clubhouse.

News broke this morning that Morse had signed a 1-year, $6 million deal with the San Francisco Giants. So the Astros leave Orlando with two spots open on the 40-man roster. The club is still looking to add another bat, another bullpen arm, and possibly a starting pitcher.

Michael Morse (Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports)