The Astros have already given us some pretty sweets gifts this year. Projected payrolls currently sit in the mid $60M range, so barring some trade that frees up some money, the Astros are likely done in the free agent market for some big names, that doesn't meant they won't be signing free agents, it just means they'll be sticking to the stocking stuffer bin for the rest of the offseason. Sorry, Max Scherzer rumors.
Below are some players the TCB staff would love to see in their holiday stockings before the offseason is over.
Brandon Beachy - RHP
Beachy is coming off his second Tommy John surgery and thus did not pitch in 2014. When he's been healthy he's been a very productive starter. Brooks our pitching and medical guru was the one that made this suggestion indicating that the medical concerns are of little worry.
Jesse Crain - RHP
Little is known of Crain's status at this point. The Astros paid him $3.2M last year and unfortunately didn't get a return on their investment. Maybe Crain will be healthy before Winter breaks and willing to sign with the Astros for an incentive-based deal. When he's healthy Crain is a dominant arm out of the bullpen.
Franklin Morales - LHP
This would be akin to signing Jerome Williams last offseason, which I'm sure puts many of you off immediately, but Morales is left-handed and likely due for some positive regression next season. He's also much younger than Williams and still has a little upside.
Paul Maholm - LHP
High ground ball type of pitcher who has generally given his team solid production in the middle of the rotations. He pitched for the Dodgers last year and had arguably his worst results, though he was being used more of a swing man than a starter, which isn't a role he's been for most of his career. His season was cut short after he tore his ACL, but he should be ready for Spring Training.
Josh Outman - LHP
A straight LOOGY, Outman should only be deployed against left-handed batters.
Mike Carp - 1B/LF
Carp could be an option for left field and a backup plan for first base in the event that Jon Singleton continues to hit like he did last season. He's been slightly above average offensively so far in the majors, but that's not exactly going to cut it at first base or in left field. Still it's better than the production the Astros got out of left field and first base last season.
Nate Schierholtz - OF
A good defensive corner outfielder with a little bit of power, Shierholtz is probably better suited for a reserve role. He is a candidate for some positive regression, though, and could provide some above average production at the plate like he did for the Cubs in 2013.
Ben Rowen - RHP
Recently released by the Rangers, Rowen is a very intriguing submariner out of the bullpen. He's a high ground ball type of pitcher that can strikeout hitters and, according to his minor league record, limit walks.
Wandy Rodriguez - LHP
Released by the Pirates in May, Rodriguez was unable to catch on with any teams for the rest of the 2014 season, which puts into question his ability to get hitters out. He recently started pitching in Winter Ball and is having some success. He could be an intriguing left-handed option for the bullpen or rotation.
Ehire Adrianza - UTIL
A 25 year old switch hitting utility infielder that played some good defense for the Giants last year. He probably won't hit for much. The Giants still control his rights for the next several years, so the Astros would need to make a trade.
Mike Leake - RHP
Another potential trade candidate, Leake reached 200+ innings for the first time in his career. While not spectacular, the sinkerball pitcher is consistent and would make an excellent edition to the back of the Astros rotation.
Gaby Sanchez - 1B
Despite his recent struggles, Sanchez still has above average offensive numbers, albeit only slightly and probably not above average for a first basement. His .229/.293/.385 line would have been an upgrade over what the Astros got out of first base last season.
Alexi Ogando - RHP
There's a good chance that Ogando can bounce back from his dismal 2014 season. Featuring a mid-90s fastball and a slider and change, we would make a nice swingman for the pitching staff.