Day three of the 2013 Winter Meetings culminated without an Astros free agent signing on the day, but like day two, rumors kept churning out of the rumor mill at a regular rate, linking the Astros to several more relief pitchers and first basemen. This time, James Loney and Justin Smoak were added to the conversation at first base while left-handed relievers as Matt Thornton and J.P. Howell were mentioned as Astros interests.
Veras' Love of Astros Not Unconditional As Once Previously Thought
Yesterday started off with good news from Tags, suggesting that Jose Veras and the Astros were hashing out the final details of a contract:
#Astros continue to push hard for RHP Jose Veras and could get a deal done later today.— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) December 11, 2013
While the mutual interest between both sides may have made the courting process easier, agreeing on an actual contract was stalled when Veras turned down an offer:
#Astros made an offer to RHP Jose Veras, but it was turned down. Still negotiating.— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) December 11, 2013
Say whut, gurl? As Ashitaka speculates, the conversation must have gone something like this:
Veras: I want to come back to Houston! I love Porter! I love my teammates! It's like HOME to me!
Astros: Okay, we want you too!
Veras: ...okay, when I said I want to come home desperately? I meant if you PAY ME too, guys.
I suspect Veras didn't find a 1-year, $0 M dollar contract with ∞ team option years to be very appealing. However, the Astros and Veras are still working on a deal. At this point, Veras seems a lot closer to being signed than any other relief pitchers the Astros are talking to. Perhaps Veras will be an Astro at the end of today.
Mike Morse An Astro Seems More and More Likely
Mike Morse talks picked up Wednesday as it was revealed Morse is looking for a 1-year contract to rebuild value and Bo Porter wants him on the Astros, two things that give Morse the advantage as a first base candidate over some of the other names the Astros are looking at.
Sources: #Astros in serious discussions with Morse.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 12, 2013
Manager Bo Porter pushing for Michael Morse in houston. MM said willing to do 1-year deal to re-establish value.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 11, 2013
The Morse link makes the most sense out the other first basemen the Astros have been associated with. The key to making this a good deal will be getting Morse on a low price as the Astros can't afford to blow money on a player who will only play a few games in a season. Morse is currently demanding $7-$8 Million, but as CRPerry13 points out, "He got paid over $6M last season to not play. Nobody's gonna give him a raise for that."
Beautifully worded. Thank you.
Morse probably makes more sense than James Loney, who had a really good season last year. Is he undervalued? Quite the opposite. Is he looking for a short-term deal? Does 3 years count as short-term? Probably not for the Astros.
Morse probably makes more sense than Justin Smoak too, since the Mariners are looking for prospects in return for Smoak, which is something the Astros would probably be hesitant on as Evan Drellich notes:
Source: Astros checked with M's on Justin Smoak, went nowhere. Problem Astros can face is they want to keep prospects, so whos left to deal?— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) December 12, 2013
In short, if the Astros are looking for an upgrade, Morse makes the most sense. If he can produce numbers close to his career average, he would be a clear boost over Brett Wallace.
The Astros were tied to two more relief pitchers as well, Matt Thornton and J.P. Howell. Both being southpaws are two more intriguing names on the list of relief pitchers the Astros are interested in using to fortify the bullpen. As Evan Drellich mentions, the Astros were just "checking in" on Thornton. Not sure what "checking in" entails, but I'm just glad the Astros are targeting a wider range of players this off-season. This proactive off-season is heck of a lot funner than the couch potato, dollar store off-season we had last year.