clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jed Lowrie signing shows personal relationships vital for Astros

How lifelike these unfeeling robots seem this winter. It's almost like they have real, human emotions.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Two weeks ago, Houston had a problem.

The Astros couldn't close any deals. They lost Andrew Miller. They lost David Robertson. They never got into the Shin-Soo Choo sweepstakes last year. They had to settle for Scott Feldman, for Pete's sake.

Now, that perception is gone. Well, it should be. Houston closed deals with free agents Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek and Jed Lowrie. All three players were harder signings than Feldman was a year ago. They weren't really overpays and they all had multiple teams interested in their services.

Why did the Astros come away with these three players? Did they suddenly get better at negotiations in two weeks? Did they just learn from losing out on Andrew Miller and Co.?

Well, listen to the comments of the players they've signed. All of them this winter have talked about some manner of personal relationship with the Astros brass. Luke Gregerson had a built-in relationship with A.J. Hinch and Jeff Luhnow. Neshek knew Hinch from San Diego. Lowrie and Luhnow continue to be candid with each other.

Drellich went on to say more about the relationship between Luhnow and Lowrie in an article for Wednesday's Chronicle. It follows the same beats, talking about how that was one of the reasons Lowrie signed in Houston.

Relationships matter in business. I mean, business is still business and not personal. But, the relationships built between people can often make reaching deals easier, no matter what industry you're discussing. In baseball, relationships with players and agents are vital for teams to compete for free agents.

It's why many fans bristled when players like Bud Norris took shots at the team's front office on their way out of town. IT's why they figured the worst of the GM when the Bo Porter firing went down because of a lack of communication. Those are dangerous signs for anyone, let alone the GM of a baseball team.

But, this winter is serving as a counterpoint to that. The Astros don't seem to be seen as some backwater with a cold, calculating management team that treats players like numbers.

Of course, it could be that the Astros are learning, that they took the failures in the past years in player relationships to heart and strive to build better rapports.

Yet, Lowrie was with the team in Luhnow's first season on the job. If he treated him like a number then, why did their relationship take center stage this winter?

It's possible that their interpersonal issues have been blown out of proportion.

Still, the Astros will not have a great relationship with every player. They lucked out this winter, fitting three players into team needs and having them line up with past experiences. They've taken a step up from last winter, when they signed good free agents who may not have been highly coveted. These guys all had plenty of suitors and still chose Houston. That says something.

They still missed on Miller and maybe on Robertson, though. They took a step up, but it's not the final step. The Astros still haven't proven they can land an impact free agent, if such a thing exists.

That's the final piece to this puzzle. Can they successfully negotiate a deal when the player doesn't have a relationship with the faces on the other side of the negotiating table?

Maybe that's a question they'll answer next winter.