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Projecting the Astros Payroll: How Much Can They Spend?

You know what's seemed weird about this offseason? We haven't been discussing figures on the Astros payroll.

Last season around this time, we knew exactly how much money Ed Wade and Co. had to work with. That way, we could figure how much those Astros could spend on free agents, Jose Valverde and the like. Sure, many of us weren't thrilled he spent so much on Brandon Lyon, but at least we had the parameters to work with.

Snake Diggity beat me to the punch yesterday in his post about where the Astros go in 2012, but I think it's worth exploring just how much money they have left to spend in this offseason. After the jump, we'll look at all the guaranteed money, the soon to be renewed contracts and the arbitration eligible guys.

First, there is a small core of players who have salaries set for 2011. They are:

Carlos Lee - 18.5 million

Brett Myers - 7 million

Brandon Lyon - 5.25 million

Humberto Quintero - 1 million

Jason Michaels - 900,000

Nelson Figueroa - 900,000

Ryan Rowland-Smith - 725,000

Roy Oswalt (money sent to Philly) - 7 million

Geoff Blum (buyout) - 125,000

That makes 41.4 million in guaranteed money right there. The Astros have another 10 players who have yet to reach arbitration. Houston can arbitrarily set their salary to anything the team wants, but let's assume the average outlay for each of those guys is 400,000. That pushes the total payroll committed to 46.2 million. But, that's also just 17 players under contract, with a bunch of guys still due arbitration raises.

Wandy Rodriguez -Made 5 million last season in a highly contentious negotiations. Was worth 14.4 million in 2010. The trade value calculator that Sky Kalkman put together over at Beyond the Box Score a couple of years back estimates arbitration eligible guys in their third year get about 80 percent of their true value. That puts Wandy somewhere around 11 million, though I don't expect him to get that much. I bet he earns anywhere between 8 and 10 million.

Hunter Pence -Made 3.5 million last season. Was worth 12.6 million last season. In his second year of arbitration, he's eligible for about 60 percent of his value, which would be around 7.5 million. While that's a reasonable jump in salary, I bet it settled somewhere around 5-6 million.

Michael Bourn -Made 2.4 million last season. Was worth 16.8 million last season. In his second year of arbitration, that puts him worth about 9 million. But, speedsters rarely get paid handsomely for their defense alone, so expect him to be a bargain. If Pence gets 5.5 million, Bourn probably tops out at 4.5 million.

Clint Barmes - Made 3.33 million last season. Was worth 1.6 million last season. In his third year of arbitration, he probably settles for around 4-5 million.

Matt Lindstrom - Made 1.6 million last season. Was worth 1.2 million last season. In his second year of arbitration, I could see him getting around the same contract. At the most, his salary goes up to 2 million.

Jeff Keppinger -Made 1.15 million last season. Was worth 9 million last season. In his second year of arbitration, he'll probably earn around 3-4 million.

Wesley Wright -Made 445,000 last season, but spent almost all of it in the minors. In his first year of arbitration, probably gets around 500,000.

Where does that leave us? Assuming 10 million for Wandy, 10 million for Pence/Bourn, 5 million for Barmes, 5 million for Keppinger/Lindstrom and half a million for Wright, the Astros payroll is up to 76.7 million.

Considering Zachary Levine's story the other day in the Chronicle basically said the payroll will stay in the 70 millions, it's safe to assume the Astros won't be adding any other free agents. If the did, it wouldn't be for more than 1 million or so. Which is why we haven't been able to talk about how much payroll they have to spend. They don't have any.

I'm sure Wade could find some wiggle room in there if he needed to, signing Wandy to an extension or trading Lindstrom. He could probably find about 2 million for Bill Hall or some other super-sub, but there just isn't money to go out and make a big move. What do you think? Is that a reasonable estimate? Are you happy with the team as constructed, with some minor league additions as the season goes along?