Astros: Who’s needed more? Beltran vs. Encarnacion
By Eric Huysman
On this week’s Talking Stros, we discussed who would be better for the Astros between Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Beltran?
While we have more than enough hitting options on the team now, the Houston Astros are looking for one more big bat. It seems there are several options out there, but the team seems to be narrowing in on three specific options. Since they have already made one trade for hitting. I don’t see them trading for any big names like Miguel Cabrera or Andrew McCutchen. The three names that keep coming up are Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Beltran, and Mike Napoli.
Brian McTaggart and my Talking Stros co-host Brandon Del Castillo (@Bballlawyer) believe the Astros are building a team to mash. If you platoon Nori Aoki and Jake Marisnick in left field with Yulieski Gurriel and A.J. Reed at first, the roster is set. There may be some questions as to what Reed can offer, but he will get better. If they add one more bat soon, this will affect the future of one of these players.
Move before the meetings?
McTaggart tweeted yesterday that the Astros could be done with the heavy lifting by the time the Winter Meetings start. While no one really knows what Luhnow’s plans are, adding a big bat is the primary goal. Let’s say he adds another bat. Then he can focus on the starting pitching market. The good thing about Napoli and Beltran is that they won’t cost a draft pick.
The owners and the players association are meeting to agree on a new collaborative bargaining agreement with the December 1st expiration of the current one. They are trying to come to an agreement on some major issues. Likely there will not be a work stoppage, but hopefully, the offseason is not affected.
CBA and how it affects the Stros.
One of the things that are trying to be decided on is draft pick compensation. Let’s say that the two sides drop the draft pick compensation via the qualifying offer. This would remove restrictions from free agents. Jeremy Hellickson took the qualifying offer this offseason, probably because teams would be leery of signing him. Another thing that both sides differ on is the luxury tax threshold.
This affects the Astros decision over the next week plus and effects Encarnacion’s options to sign. Should the draft pick be taken away, there will be less hesitation to sign Encarnacion. Beltran and Napoli don’t have the pick attached because they were both traded during the season. Should the luxury tax threshold rise, then Encarnacion’s price tag could rise. If the Red Sox and Yankees get more financial flexibility, they can outbid Luhnow for the slugging first baseman.
This week will help decide what’s next for Luhnow. The question is, who do the Astros need, Encarnacion or Beltran. Most of the people on Talking Stros last night said they would rather have Beltran for cheaper and shorter basis. He fits more of a need for the Stros in the outfield, and the switch-hitter can bring a veteran presence to the team.
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Beltran would probably take a two-year deal for about $15 million per season or less. He could return to Houston and make amends for leaving after 2004. The downside is the fact he is 39, coming off a good season after two down years. In 2014, batted .233 with 15 homers and 49 RBIs. In 2015, he improved to .276 with 19 homers and 67 RBIs. We can expect numbers similar to those or his .293 with 29 homers and 93 RBIs.
Encarnacion will take about four to five years at close to $20 million per season. The past three seasons he has been money batting between .263 and .277 with between 34 and 42 homers. He has driven in 98 or more runs in each of those three years. If we did sign Encarnacion, Gurriel would have to move to the outfield. As a result, Reed would then become depth and likely traded.
Next: Is Astros rotation good enough to be taken seriously?
My mind tells me that Beltran makes the most sense, but Encarnacion would make this lineup so dangerous. Smiling at the thought is okay. Listen to Talking Stros above and tune in next Sunday for our one-year anniversary with Lance McCullers joining.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***