Late on Thursday, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com shot off a few tweets about two Lone Star citizens who can see themselves in Minute Maid Park next season.
Free agent outfielder Chris Young says he would like to play for hometown Astros, but wouldn't say if he's contacted them.— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) November 15, 2013
Free agent pitcher LaTroy Hawkins says Astros haven't called him, but he does have irons in the fire— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) November 15, 2013
McTaggart attended a charity dinner hosted by Bo Porter, which benefited his S.E.L.F. Foundation that aims to fund after school sports-related activities for kids. Hawkins and Young were two of the attendees and, ostensibly, McTaggart rubbed elbows a bit to get some information.
Young would seem to be something of a natural fit; he's from Houston, is a power-hitting outfielder with a good glove and appears to be open to playing for his hometown team. The Astros, meanwhile, have publicly said they're looking for an impact bat, and outfield would be one of the easiest places to slot in a new acquisition.
Young hit just .200/.280/.379 in 375 plate appearances this past season, a notable drop off from his previous production. However, he did hit better on the road, outside of the cavern that the Oakland Athletics plays in, and he dealt with a few injuries last year that could have hampered him even when he was on the field. If he rebounds decently to his 2012 form, he'd be a solid upgrade over Brandon Barnes in CF, and once Springer is promoted, could form a pretty nice, athletic outfield with him and Hoes or Grossman. A best-case return to form could mean a 20-20 season with strong outfield defense, a good walk rate, and a much more reasonable strikeout rate than our few present power threats. There has, however, been some interest in Young already from other clubs.
Clack waved his mathic wand and addressed Young's performance at MMP and the potential future sustainability of it in an excellent piece a few weeks back; if you didn't read it then, give it a look now, as it seems the likelihood of Young donning an Astros uniform next year has just gotten a boost.
Hawkins played with the Astros previously; he was acquired at the trade deadline from the New York Yankees back in 2008 and tossed 21 innings of Mariano Rivera-like ball, earning a $3.5 million contract for 2009 for his efforts, and performed well setting up for closer Jose Valverde. In 2013 he gave the New York Mets 70 ⅔ innings of rock-solid performance, ending the year with a 2.93 ERA and the best strikeout rate he had posted in a full season since 2004. Concerns over his age (he'll be 41 on Opening Day) and interest from other clubs are possible factors that could bar a reunion with the Astros.