Some things to talk about while we look back at our last Designated Columnist feature from Thanskgiving Day...
1) Guthrie signing and Astros free agent plan
When Jeremy Guthrie signed for three years and $25 million last week, it showed exactly why the Astros front office is taking a more methodical approach to this offseason. Yes, there are values out there, but the Astros need the money to be right first.
If they were to go out and sign someone now, they'd be setting the market, like Guthrie did. Not to take away from Guthrie, but signed with the Royals for fairly significant money on a long-term deal while never posting a SIERA under 4.00. His lowest true ERA came in 2010 with the Orioles and was just 4.15.
In short, he's not a very good player and may add a win or two to his new team. Would he have improved the Astros? Probably, but it didn't make sense for Houston to overspend on a guy who wouldn't be around in four or five years (or to be actually good at any point).
That seems to be the strategy moving forward. Houston will not set the market with any signing and, instead, will swoop in after some of the bigger names are gone to get a value here or there. It won't be exciting, but it will be deliberate.
2) Belated thoughts on 40-man
Our very talented stable of writers here already covered most of the intrigue when the Astros set the 40-man roster. I don't have much to add, other than how it might set up for some of the prospects and their chances of making the team in the near future.
By dropping Kyle Weiland and adding Ross Seaton, it certainly looks like Seaton could be the next Dallas Keuchel, as a guy who fills in because of injuries with the big league team this year. He may not be heralded, but he could provide a nice mid-season bump. Plus, as we discussed on the prospect podcast, Seaton could slot into the bullpen at some point too.
The same goes for Jarred Cosart, who could very well make the team out of spring training at this point. He probably needs more time in Triple-A, but by adding him to the 40-man roster (out of necessity), Houston is making it easier to give him a chance if he pitches well with the big league club in the spring.
It's interesting that Houston only has six outfielders on the 40-man right now, including at least three guys who figure to be in the minors at the start of the season (Grossman, Lin and Paredes for sure; possibly Barnes and one of F-Mart and J.D.?), which suggests that the Astros are serious about adding a free agent outfielder or two to the mix.
3) Arbitration approaching
The next step in the offseason process that will affect payrolls is arbitration. Here are Brian T. Smith's predictions for what the players will make in arbitration:
- Norris: $3.5 million. Team: $2.7 million.
- Lowrie: $2.3 million. Team: 1.6. million.
- Wright: $1.2 million. Team: $800,000.
- Lopez: $1.8 million. Team: $1.2 million.
Here are the predictions made by MLB Trade Rumors on where the arbitration-eligible players' salaries will end up next year:
All of these salaries look reasonable, and with Jed Lowrie's potential and price tag, he could be a very intriguing value for many teams. If he can hit and stay healthy, Lowrie is a big-time player getting a very small arbitration number. That salary would make him a hit at the trade deadline should he not get hurt early in the season.
Other than that, none of the numbers seem out of line. Wilton's contract would be cheap for a closer and Wright's deal would be very reasonable for a left-handed specialist who can pitch a whole inning.