One week ago, it was reported that the Houston Astros would open their checkbooks, increasing payroll by over $20 Million from where it was a year ago. That certainly sounds like quite the impressive increase, potentially allowing the Astros to truly be players in free agency once the Hot Stove season officially opens for business on Monday night.
However, those dreams of Max Scherzer, Andrew Miller and/or Pablo Sandoval dancing in the heads of Astros fans are likely to be exactly that – dreams. Even with the increase in payroll, the Astros would still remain at approximately $65 Million for next year. Yes, this is a sizable increase, but it may not be nearly enough to put the Astros into playoff contention just yet.
Despite that, this increase in payroll could work wonders for the Astros in the next couple of years. This is a team in desperate need of an upgrade in the bullpen and at the back of the rotation. Likewise, Jonathan Villar and Matt Dominguez do not appear to be the answer at either short or third respectively. Can that $20 Million fill all those holes?
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By itself, it probably won’t be able to. Yet, that could help to put the foundation in place for the Houston Astros next run to contention. By adding several viable pieces to the bullpen, pitchers like Luke Hochevar, Joe Thatcher or Burke Badenhop, the Astros could begin to put together a relief core that would no longer be the equivalent of pouring napalm on a dumpster fire.
This increase in salary could also allow the Astros to bring in a couple of players on short term deals until their prospects are ready for the majors. Colin Moran and Rio Ruiz appear to be a couple of years away, so maybe the Astros could bring in a solid third baseman as a bridge until one or both are ready.
Of course, this $20 Million could just be the beginning. If everything is settled with the sale of Comcast SportsNet Houston, and it’s repackaging as ROOT Sports, then the Astros could find themselves with a lot more revenue to spend on the roster. Then, maybe some of those dreams could come to fruition, as the Astros would be able to completely overhaul their roster in one fell swoop.
The Astros increasing their payroll by $20 Million will not solve all of their problems. It may, however, solve enough of them to bring the Houston Astros back to respectability next season.