Astros May Be Used to Drive Up Price in Free Agency
By David Hill
When a team has a lot of money available and several holes to fill, it would make sense that they would be in on the better options in free agency. That has certainly been the case for the Houston Astros, who have been linked to several of the top free agent relief pitchers on the market. Andrew Miller, before he signed with the New York Yankees, David Robertson and Sergio Romo have all been named as possibilities to head down to Houston.
The Astros sincerity in attempting to improve their bullpen, especially with the names that they have been making offers to, likely cannot be doubted. Yet, the same cannot be said for those free agents they are entertaining. There have been reports that Robertson and his agent are using the Astros as leverage in negotiations to drive up his price, that he really is not interested in heading to Houston.
Considering that Miller may have been the other top relief pitcher available in free agency, one has to wonder if that same strategy was used by his representation. After all, it is difficult to attract top free agents to a team that has had a recent history of losing, especially one that has seen their payroll fall below that of sixty four different players, as it did in 2013.
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Much like the Detroit Tigers did after their disastrous 2003 season when they lost 119 games, the Astros may well need to overpay to bring in key free agents to further the rebuild. However, their payroll restrictions may well make it where, should the Astros truly overspend to bring in a player, that may be the only significant piece they are able to bring in.
While it is certainly great to see that the Astros are linked to players of the caliber of Robertson, Miller and Romo, that may not be the best plan of action. In the case of the bullpen, quantity may prove to be better than getting that one star reliever, especially since it is difficult to imagine that the two or three relievers that could be brought in would be worse than what was in the bullpen last year.
It appears as though the Houston Astros truly want to make a splash in free agency, especially if it means upgrading the bullpen significantly. If only their free agent targets had the same desire to come to Houston, and not use the Astros as a way to get more money out of the team they wanted to sign with.