Some things to talk about while a certain jolly old elf prepares to visit the town...
1) Astros closing in on bullpen arm?
In Brian T. Smith's latest interview extravaganza with Jeff Luhnow, we find out that the Astros are likely set in the rotation now, but are close to adding some arms to the bullpen within the next few days. Let's assume one of those arms is Jose Veras. Could the Astros be looking at adding anyone else?
Well, the money Veras is owed isn't big, so they could slot someone else in as well and hold Veras in more of a setup role (in case his control implodes again).
But, does that mean Houston would consider adding a closer from the market? Sean has brought up Brian Wilson's name both on Twitter and on the podcast. The Beard does make some sense, and hasn't drawn a ton of interest from teams. The Dodgers apparently "kicked the tires" on him, according to MLBTR, but he hasn't drawn nearly the serious interest you'd expect.
If the Red Sox and both L.A. teams are back, would Wilson choose a chance to close in Houston over a return to San Fran as a setup guy?
The other intriguing possibility out there is Rafael Soriano. I know, I know, he requires draft pick compensation from the team who agrees to a deal, and the Astros don't need to give up a draft pick. Two things make this plausible to me.
First, Houston closed the Carlos Pena deal with Scott Boras and did it relatively quietly. They could also be talking about being a landing place for Soriano, with the expectation that he'd be dealt by midseason. Might make Boras come off his money demands some.
Second, the Yankees don't want Soriano back, so maybe Boras could negotiate a sign-and-trade deal. If Houston were to give up some low-level pitcher, like a lesser Rob Rasmussen, after the Yankees sign Soriano to the contract Houston works out, then the two teams make the trade instead of Houston being required to give up compensation.
Would it circumvent the CBA? Yep. Would the commissioner be upset? Who cares. He moved Houston to the AL.
2) Is the outfield set?
Within that same piece by Brian T., Luhnow suggests that the roster may be well and set, as Houston just considers the scrap heap of free agency and possibly adds more to it if the price is right. But, if that's the case, does that mean Houston's starting outfield is already on the roster?
I guess that'd put Maxwell in center and flank him with who? The Martinii (great name, btw)? Barnes or Paredes in center with Maxwell in left or right? To me, the likeliest configuration (if this roster is set), is JMaxx in left, Barnes in center and F-Mart in right. I don't love it, but I guess that could work.
Any other options? What would Robbie Grossman have to do to win a spot in right field? Are there any other configurations you can see working right now?
3) Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays
It's that time of year, as I'm sure many of you are traveling to be with family around Christmas next week. I just wanted to say thanks for sticking around this year to talk about a bad team. It's made things much more palatable to have all of you around to comment on stuff.
Be safe in your travels and we wish you a very happy holidays. We'll keep the lights on here at TCB, just in case the vampires in Houston's front office decide to make any deals on Christmas Eve. We'll also have some fun posts next week, so be sure to check the site out if you get a chance.