Not sure if Edwin Encarnacion is still in the Astros plans, but if they do sign him, it will lead to more moves.
Jeff Luhnow has been a busy GM this week as he has appeared on radio shows and has added three players to the roster. It looks like the Yankees could be moving interested in signing Encarnacion as well. Is Edwin Encarnacion still in the picture? We are not sure, but let’s look at the moves so far.
At first, there was Charlie Morton, who was added for the next two seasons. The signing does fill a need but doesn’t give Astros fans too much excitement. Houston fans want an ace following the disappointing season for Dallas Keuchel and injuries to Lance McCullers.
The second move was trading for veteran catcher Brian McCann from the New York Yankees. This was a move that we predicted the Astros would make on Talking Stros. We also predicted that Jason Castro had no interest in re-signing with the Astros following losing his arbitration case before the 2016 season.
By adding McCann, this also adds his leadership to a team that was described as a rudderless team by Buster Olney. The Houston squad is loaded with young talent. When they struggled, there was no one to step up and get the team back on track. Eventually, the talent would rise to the top, but team management has learned that they can’t rely on all young players.
This was the biggest reason for adding him, plus they get a consistent 20-homer left-handed catcher on the roster. While Castro is looking for a new home, the Stros fans are sitting at home looking pretty with McCann on the roster.
The third move was almost immediately after the McCann trade. The Astros signed Josh Reddick to a four-year deal. This adds a player with decent on-base skills and potential plus power despite only ten homers in 2016. While Astros fans would have liked Ian Desmond or Yoenis Cespedes, but Reddick is a solid add.
I’m sure the Astros would have wanted to sign him to a three-year deal. However, they had to add the extra year to top the other teams. They had to get out of their comfort zone to get the job done. This is what Luhnow had discussed a few days earlier when he appeared on Astroline. So now that we have added three players, is there room to add a few more?
What’s next for Houston?
When looking forward to the next move, the Astros seem willing to do what it takes to get an ace. Will they still go after Edwin Encarnacion? The unofficial budget we have calculated at Talking Stros says that we have $18 million left to reach 2016 salary. Jim Crane has given Luhnow permission to raise the salary, but by how much? These are things that we don’t know at the moment.
What we do know is that Encarnacion may be looking for between $20-25 million for four years plus. Should the Astros sign Encarnacion to play first base or designated hitter, the infield would be crowded. If the team does make that commitment now and bring in the former Blue Jays’ slugger, the could lead to a bigger trade. You are not going to like this.
Right now the Astros have just enough players on the team to be comfortable. There will be many players rotating in and out of the DH spot. Let’s look at a projected lineup. Keep in mind that Reddick has primarily played right field in his career, this could lead to George Springer switching to center field.
CF – Springer
3B – Alex Bregman
2B – Jose Altuve
SS – Carlos Correa
RF – Reddick
1B – Yulieski Gurriel
C – McCann
DH – Evan Gattis
Will a player be traded off the big league roster?
Notable admissions from this lineup are Marwin Gonzalez and A.J. Reed. Should the team bring Edwin Encarnacion into the equation, this would move Gurriel to left field and Reed out of the picture. Also, if they signed Encarnacion, they will be going all in and will have to package players on the major league roster for a big name in Chris Sale or Chris Archer.
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If the Astros were to trade for one of those two pitchers, it could require Reed and/or Bregman to bring in a TOR pitcher. I was listening to the Bottom Line show on AM 790, and they mentioned that Springer could be more expendable than Bregman. Would they have to deal one of them? Not sure how worried they are about the starting rotation.
We will talk about the next moves this week on Talking Stros. We broadcast on Sunday’s from 7-9pm CST on KTXF-db The Reel. It feels like Edwin Encarnacion wanted to wait until the CBA is revealed with the new luxury tax threshold. The team could have moved on with Reddick instead, or he could still be in their sights.
We don’t know how much Crane’s ownership group has raised the payroll for 2017. I’m not sure that Encarnacion is still in the Astros plans. However, Brandon and I both feel there is one more big move to be made. The team has improved its chances to win in 2017, but another front of the rotation pitcher would be nice. Enjoy the offseason, isn’t exciting?
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***