Question: Now that the Astros owe Colby Rasmus $16 million for the 2016 season, it's fair to assume that their ability to sign free agents will be affected. So that said, let's say you're the GM and have $10-$15 million to play with remaining. Who are you targeting, and why?
I'm targeting one single free agent, and one only: Seung-hwan Oh.
I believe there are lots of other needs to address - especially LHP in the bullpen - but I think our needs are better served there via trade. Jake McGee in Tampa Bay and Mike Dunn are my preferences for LHP. But for a right handed power arm to shut down the game at the back end, Seung-hwan Oh is who I want to spend free agent money on.
I'm trying to re-sign Scott Kazmir. He's the best starting pitcher available that won't cost $25M/y, and it would be a popular signing with the fans. 3Y $45M ought to do it.
I would try for a combo of both Kazmir resign and getting Seung-hwan Oh. With a trade for a left handed reliever maybe using Singleton as a trade chip to add salary relief so I can have both of the guys mentioned above instead of just one sign.
I would focus on starting and relief pitching. I'm not willing to give up a compensation pick, so that limits the attractive available free agents. Probably check in on Price and Cueto to see if either is affordable. Assuming that is a "no," I probably turn to Kazmir, since he is the best of the mid-tier starters who doesn't require a draft pick. I'm not excited by the available options for LHP relievers, and would try to bring Sipp back. In order to replace Quall's role, I would try to sign Madson or Bastardo.
Adam Lind for a reliable lefty bat to round out the offense. Target Aroldis Chapman via trade. Add another reliable reliever via free agency or trade. Sign Keuchel to a long-term contract.
It is humbling when you sit back and realize that $10-$15 million does not get you nearly what is used to, even just a few years ago. I'll second Blake's combo of Kazmir and Oh. These 2 could provide us with solid-to-great additions to the starting rotation as well as the bullpen. They both come with risk and uncertainty, but their potentially high reward is enough for me to aggressively pursue them.
Although signing both would be closer to the $15-$20M range, these two additions would also allow us to make subsequent trades to relieve some cap space as well (i.e. trading Scott Feldman if and when he comes back healthy and strong). I feel signing both to 3 year deals, with perhaps a 4th year team options would be provide great value to the Houston Astros, and make an already solid team even better.
I agree on Kazmir, but for variety, I'll throw another name out there; Doug Fister. He's not super-sexy, but he shouldn't cost too much, and with his super-low walk rates and ground ball game, he's a very Jeff Luhnow-esque pitcher and something of a poor man's Dallas Keuchel. If he's healthy he could rebound, and his strike out rate spiked while his xFIP dropped last year in the Nationals' bullpen, so if there comes a time when we don't need him in the rotation, he could be a very talented and experienced multi-inning reliever; a better version of Roberto Hernandez, if you will.
Alternately, Trevor Cahill could be even cheaper and is five years younger than Fister. His command and track record aren't as strong, but he has some history as an innings eater and his ground ball rate is even better, well over 50% on his career.