Houston's 2024 payroll may be all but tapped out
The Astros payroll is always going to be a hot topic. Owner Jim Crane generally puts pretty strict guardrails on the team's spending and he is particularly averse to deals that go longer than five years and north of $150 million. This is known information, though, and it honestly isn't that unreasonable to want to avoid those longer term, big money deals as they rarely work out well.
The problem comes, though, when then are whispers that the Astros may already be close to tapped out in terms of payroll before the offseason even begins. Brown even said as much at the GM meetings this past week when he said that the club doesn't have a lot of financial flexibility with their 2024 payroll at the moment.
Again, this could all be for show, but there are plenty of reasons to think that there is more to it than that. The Astros' current projected luxury tax payroll for 2024 is already $238 million which is slightly above the luxury tax threshold and we already know that ownership doesn't like to spend above that cap. Where is the room to make roster additions if that is the case? How could this impact ongoing contract extension talks with the Astros' core?
In the end, it is still very possible that Houston ends up being more active than we would think based on their payroll constraints. Trades could easily help them shed some of their existing payroll while yielding help for their roster and there is still a chance, albeit slight, that a deal presents itself that is too good for Crane/Brown to pass up even if it means spending a bit extra in luxury tax penalties. However, it is still pretty spooky that the Astros are set to enter another tough division race with very motivated competition next season and seemingly not having the resources to make roster improvements.