I know this is coming a little late, as free agency is obviously well under way. But I thought I'd go through the list of free agents available and pick out each one that I could see the Astros possibly having interest in. Yes, this is a pretty long list. But it'll be good when the Astros make their next major signing, like Peter Moylan was, and you'll actually know who they are and what they bring to the table. If they sign someone that is not on this list, then I probably failed. Because this list is long.
All of these players are potential targets. Many of them are just potential minor league deal players, but a lot of them are actually really interesting. The players with ** before the names indicate players I think the Astros should really consider.
David Aardsma, RHP: Aardsma is coming off a couple of average seasons in New York. Before that, he was a pretty solid closer for Seattle. His GO/AO indicates that he is a fly ball pitcher, which could be a problem in MMP. But he would come in as a decent bullpen option that would be a great influence to the young players. I'd also like to point out that Aardsma is one of the few non-Astros players that I follow on Twitter. He's pretty cool.
**Matt Albers, RHP: This is a player I could definitely see Luhnow going after. As a Houston native, Albers has been a very solid relief pitcher for multiple different organizations over the past few years. He actually used to be an Astro. He is a very strong ground ball pitcher and does not strike many hitters out, but he has put up pretty impressive numbers over the past few years. He will be 30 at the beginning of next year, so he likely still has a few good years left.
Bronson Arroyo, RHP: I think Luhnow would be interested in bringing Arroyo to Houston, but I'm not exactly sure Arroyo would be interested in coming to Houston. I think we all are somewhat familiar with what he can do. He's a solid pitcher, and I'd definitely be interested in bringing him aboard for multiple years.
**Jairo Asencio, RHP: This is one of the players I had never heard of. In the past few years, he has gotten a few chances to pitch in the majors. Most of them were very small sample sizes, and he did not pitch very well. However, he has been absolutely dominant in AAA each time he is down there. Opponents just cannot hit him; he has held hitters under an average of .200 in AAA in 47 appearances in 2011, 13 in 2012, and 47 in 2013. His ERAs for those 3 seasons were 1.81, 1.35, and 2.66. I say give this guy another shot in the majors, and he would be pretty cheap.
Scott Baker, RHP: Yes, he is coming off of an injury. And yes, he didnt pitch in the majors too much last year. But he is interesting and he would be a great buy-low option. Even if he isn't thrown into the rotation on Opening Day, I have a feeling he'll be a good option sometime next year if we need him
Grant Balfour, RHP: Again, this falls under the Bronson Arroyo type. I'm not sure if he'd be interested in coming to Houston. I expect him to sign with a contender. But if he did sign with the Astros, he would be an awesome option out of the bullpen.
Jason Bay, OF: People make fun of him, but remember when he was hitting 30 HRs a year not too long ago? I do. I'm not giving him **s because I don't want this to be the player Luhnow puts in the OF to solve our issues, but if he did it I wouldn't be surprised.
Erik Bedard, LHP: He was a good pitcher last year for us. I don't think anyone would be disappointed if he was brought back for next year. He may not be the addition everyone is looking for, but it wouldn't be an absolute letdown
**Joaquin Benoit, RHP: Benoit was a great closer when given the chance last year in Detroit, as he converted 24 of his 26 opportunities. This was really the only chance he ever got to close. He may want another chance at it to prove himself, and I could see Houston as a potential landing spot for him for sure. Not to mention he can strike out hitters and he's consistenly posted great ERAs every season each of the past four seasons.
**Quintin Berry, OF: He isn't a stud. And he isn't the solution in the OF since he has relatively no power. But this dude can run. He's stolen 24 bases in the majors in limited playing time, and he's never been caught stealing. Yes, he is 24-0 in stealing bases. He may strike out a solid amount, but he also draws walks. His OBP is pretty respectable. I don't think he should be given many starts, but if he finds his way onto the MLB team he would be a great guy to use as a pinch runner to cause havoc.
Yuniesky Betancourt, 1B: It isn't a sexy signing, but he would bring veteran leadership to the club. He also plays pretty good defense at first.
**Brennan Boesch, OF: Here's another under the radar player. Boesch really isn't a bad hitter; he usually hits around .265-.270 with a little bit of pop in his bat. I could definitely see Luhnow bringing him in. And if he ends up as the RFer next year, I would not be surprised at all.
Michael Bowden, RHP: He isn't amazing, but he also is not bad at all. He'll provide a little bit of stability in the middle of the bullpen and he'll probably post an ERA in the 3.5-4.0 range.
Tim Byrdak, LHP: Another ex-Astro! He's mostly a LOOGY, but he gets the job done. He might want to sign with a little better of a team though, since his career is winding down.
**Chris Capuano, LHP: Capuano will not win any Cy Young awards, but he has consistently been a pretty good starting pitcher over the years. I could definitely see this kind of player being brought in as the rotation piece.
Ezequiel Carrera, OF: Again, not a very sexy signing, but if Luhnow is going to add more OF possibilities then this guy is an option. Doesn't hit for power, but he gets on base and he can run.
**Simon Castro, RHP: This guy used to be a major prospect a few years back. He's pitched as a starter and a reliever. He has struggled a little bit lately, but the talent is there. Sign him to a minor league deal and see if they can work with him.
Joba Chamberlain, RHP: I definitely don't think he's a closer, but he needs a place to get his career on track. Houston could be a good landing spot for him. It would at least be interesting, as he also used to be a highly touted prospect. I'm pretty sure he was on the cover of Bowman baseball cards a few years back.
Bruce Chen, RHP: He has not been very consistent over the past few years. He's struggled at times and then turned into a pretty decent starter. This past season, KC moved him to the bullpen, where he actually pitched very well.
**Shin-Soo Choo, OF: This is the bat I want this offseason. Throw all our eggs into this basket. Sign him to a $100 Million contract. We need to make a statement. Other players won't take us seriously unless Luhnow proves that he is for real. Adding a player like this could add many wins next season and it will start to bring the casual fans back.
Tyler Colvin, OF: He has shown in the past that he can hit for some power, but he's also shown he sometimes can't hit for his life. I'm including him on here only for his power potential.
**Jesse Crain, RHP: Crain went to college in Houston, and he is a flat out solid relief pitcher. Last year, his ERA was 0.74 in 38 appearances. He can also strike hitters out a bit. He did have a bit of an injury last season, so that could be a concern. But if he can come back and pitch for Houston, he could be the next closer.
Luis Cruz, SS: Cruz would be an okay option if something were to happen to Villar. Last season, his average was dismal. But before that he hit .297 in 2012 in almost 300 ABs. He also doesn't strike out very often. I wouldn't count on it, but if Luhnow is going to sign a depth SS, this guy could be it.
Nelson Cruz, OF: This Cruz can hit for pure power. Although he's coming off of a PEDs suspension, he would be a pretty solid signing. You can count on 25 HRs from him, and he is pretty mobile in the OF. This would be a great signing. But would Cruz come to Houston?
Rajai Davis, OF: Could it happen? I guess. I don't think it will, but if Luhnow is okay with signing an OFer that doesn't hit for power, Davis would be an excellent option.
Octavio Dotel, RHP: Ex- Astro again. Actually, he's played for like half the teams in the league. But if Luhnow were to bring him on for one year, I wouldn't be opposed.
Cody Eppley, RHP: This is another guy I'm not very familiar with. He struggled in both the minors and majors last year, but prior to that he was a pretty reliable pitcher out of the bullpen. He could be a minor league deal candidate.
**Irving Falu, 2B: He has shown in a pretty small sample size that he can hit for average. He also does not strike out much at all. He's 30 years old and has barely played in the majors despite his consistent high OBP. He would be an interesting player to take a chance on.
Kyle Farnsworth, RHP: He has been a decent reliever throughout his entire career. He would not be very expensive and this is the kind of player that younger pitchers can learn from.
Scott Feldman, RHP: Feldman was a great pitcher for the Cubs last year, but when he got traded to Baltimore he for some reason did not put up the same numbers despite the fact that nearly every stat on his line was almost identical between the two teams. He could be the starter addition that Luhnow has indicated will happen.
Pedro Feliciano, LHP: Not a very interesting pitcher, but he gets the job done I guess. Decent numbers throughout his whole career.
Curtis Granderson, OF: I love Curtis Granderson and I think he would be a great signing. I have a feeling he'll be going to a Chicago team (he's a Chicago guy), but he'd be an awesome addition to the team.
Kevin Gregg, RHP: He pitched great for the Cubs last year as their closer. He might want to close for a better team, but if Luhnow can sign him it would be an awesome addition to the bullpen.
Matt Guerrier, RHP: Another bullpen option. He's pretty solid, puts up decent numbers. Not amazing but solid.
Franklin Gutierrez, OF: I've seen some people say that this is the dark horse to become the new Astros RFer. But he doesn't hit for much power and I'm not sure he would be much of a big impact player.
**Roy Halladay, RHP: Remember when he was consistently one of the best pitchers in the game? What if he could get healthy and bring something somewhat similar to that to Houston? He needs to get his career going again and Houston could be the place for him to do that.
**Joel Hanrahan, RHP: He didn't pitch much last year due to injury, but before that he was a GREAT pitcher. He also needs to get his career on track.
Corey Hart, OF: I think Milwaukee will bring him back, but if they don't, I'd jump all over him if I was Luhnow.
JP Howell, LHP: Every year that he is a free agent, I always say the Astros should sign him. This year is no different. I don't know why I like him so much. But they should sign him.
**Phil Hughes, RHP: He is a fly ball pitcher. He may be more suited for San Diego or Miami. But I think Luhnow should definitely give his agent a call. In home games he has an ERA over 6. In away games, that ERA is under 4. Do it, Luhnow!
Raul Ibanez, OF: He came out of nowhere last year when everyone thought he was too old. This year, we all think he's too old again. But what if he isn't too old? Hmm....
Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP: Here's another guy that could be a great addition to the rotation. He won't be cheap, but I'd be perfectly fine with locking him up for a few years. He has a very big frame and he can strike out hitters pretty well. He'd immediately be the opening day starter easily.
Jair Jurrjens, RHP: I could see this being a depth signing going into Spring Training. He used to be pretty reliable.
Munenori Kawasaki, SS: I think having him on the team would make everyone a little happier....
Logan Kensing, RHP: If Luhnow wants more bullpen depth, Kensing would be a good addition on a minor league deal. He's shown in spurts that he can be a decent reliever. He's an interesting player.
Jason Kubel, OF: This would be an interesting addition to the OF. He has hit for pretty good power in the past; he hit 30 HRs in 2012. His average used to be somewhat respectable, too. But for whatever reason he just fell off last year. He sucked and got hurt. It would at least be interesting if he came to Houston, but is he eerily similar to Chris Carter? He strikes out a pretty good amount.
**John Lannan, LHP: This is someone I thought Luhnow should've gone after last offseason. He did not pitch very well last year, but in the past he's been a pretty good #4 starter. I wouldn't complain if he was brought in.
Chris Leroux, RHP: Leroux is another guy that could be brought in on a minor league deal. He's been pretty good at times, other times not so much.
**James Loney, 1B: Loney is a pretty consistent hitter that does not strike out much. His defense is also awesome. If he could come onto the team and hit .285, that would do loads for this team. I'm sure Luhnow is already considering it.
Javier Lopez, LHP: He's been an excellent lefty out of the pen for a few years. He's dependable and that's what our bullpen needs the most.
Paul Maholm, LHP: Maholm would be a decent middle of the rotation guy. His ERA has fluctuated over the years, but he's never been bad.
**Shaun Marcum, RHP: He's dealt with injury concerns the past couple years. But prior to that, he was awesome. If Luhnow and co. think that he can rebound from the injury, this may be a relatively cheap addition that could turn into a great decision.
Carlos Marmol, RHP: Just kidding. We already have enough blown saves as it is.
Victor Marte, RHP: He's coming from St Louis, so Luhnow might be pretty familiar with him even though he wasn't drafted by him.
Kendrys Morales, 1B: Morales consistently hits 20-25 HRs a year and hits around .275. This is actually around what I expect Singleton to hit. If Morales can be signed for 1-2 years I'd be all for it. Only downside is that he requires giving up a draft pick.
Justin Morneau, 1B: I'm a big Justin Morneau fan, and I believe he would be an excellent addition to the team. He wouldn't cost too much, and he's a pretty reliable player when healthy. He can also hit pretty well.
Michael Morse, 1B/OF: If Luhnow wants to kill two birds with one stone, why not sign a player that can play 1B and OF? It wouldn't be a super huge signing, but it's interesting and he's a better option than Wallace.
**Edward Mujica, RHP: Mujica has consistently been a very good reliever for the past five seasons. I'm not sure if he's a closer, but nonetheless he would be an excellent option out of the bullpen.
**Pat Neshek, RHP: Neshek is a side-arm pitcher that has had pretty good success over the past few years. He would be a big step up in the bullpen.
Roy Oswalt, RHP: This would be awesome if he came back. I'm not sure he would be very good, but it would definitely be a feel-good signing.
Chris Perez, RHP: He has experience as a dominant closer, he just needs to get back to that form. Pitching in Houston could be very beneficial to both him and the team.
Chad Qualls, RHP: Qualls has had some up and down years lately, but coming to a familiar city could be great for him. I'm not sure anything is still the way he remembers it in Houston, though.
Ramon Ramirez, RHP: He used to be a very consistent pitcher 4-5 years ago. He's been struggling lately, but that doesn't mean he can't rebound. I think it would be a decent signing.
Clayton Richard, LHP: I remember when he was a very reliable pitcher not too long ago. He had a pretty bad year last year, but basically ever year prior to that he had an ERA below 4.00.
Fernando Rodney, RHP: The way that he wears his hat annoys me, but he's been a very good closer for the Rays the past couple seasons. He would immediately come in and be the closer for the Astros. And he'd definitely bring some swag with him.
**Fransisco Rodriguez, RHP: K-Rod is often overlooked. He's posted an ERA below 3.00 in eight of the past 11 seasons. He's moved around a lot lately, bouncing from organization to organization. He's still only going to be 32 when the season starts. Sign him for a 2 year deal and I'll be very happy.
Matt Thornton, LHP: He's older, but he's had great success throughout his entire career. He still strikes out hitters around 1 per inning. More importantly, he's very reliable.
Jake Westbrook, RHP: He signed with the Cardinals when Luhnow was still part of their organization. And although he doesn't put up great numbers, he's not a bad pitcher. He would be a pretty solid part of the rotation. An ERA a bit about 4.00 isn't as bad as it seems when the pitcher is consistent.
Brian Wilson, RHP: Bring in the beard! He actually looked very good coming off of the injury he had. I'm not sure if he will choose to ride that success all the way to Houston. But if Luhnow overpays a little, it could be done.