Did you hear the one about the incredibly lucky team whose fans thought that they could outrun the luck dragons? And how that team then lost horribly in the first round of the playoffs, winning nary a game and looking very much like a team who should have been nearer to .500 in true talent?
Yeah, this article isn't about them. I just like thinking about that.
No, the offseason is here for the Astros. We still have a few more weeks of actual baseball, in which we can root for or against that accursed billy goat. For most Astros fans, though, thoughts have turned to next season.
Before we get into any free agents or trades that could possibly make the Astros better next year, we need to figure out how much money they have to spend. Luckily, we got one major piece of that this week when MLB Trade Rumors published its arbitration projections.
The Astros currently have eight players in arbitration. They are listed below with their projected arbitration salaries:
Marwin Gonzalez - $3.6 million
Dallas Keuchel - $9.5 million
Will Harris - $2.5 million
Mike Fiers - $4.3 million
Collin McHugh - $4.6 million
Brad Peacock - $800K
George Springer - $4.7 million
Jake Marisnick - $1.1 million
Assuming they keep all those players at those proposed prices, the Astros will have $31.1 million tied up already.
Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts, we also know that Houston has another $31.4 million tied up in four players signed through 2017. They include
Yulieski Gurriel - $14.4 million
Luke Gregerson - $6.25 million
Tony Sipp - $6 million
Jose Altuve $4.7 million
Two more players can be added if their options are picked up. They are:
Pat Neshek - $6.5 million, $500K buyout
Evan Gattis - $5.2 million, $100K buyout
If the Astros pick up these players options, that's another $11.7 million to the payroll. If not, they've added just $600K to that total number.
Houston also has a number of players on rookie-level deals who figure to be on the roster, including Ken Giles, Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, Preston Tucker, Max Stassi, Michael Feliz, A.J. Reed, Joe Musgrove and Alex Bregman.
Each of those players will count about $550K against the salary total, which adds another $5 million to our total.
That leaves us with 23 players who could be on the team in 2017 costing $79.2 million. Add in the $2 million Jon Singleton is owed in the fourth year of his five-year, $10 million contract and Houston is sitting at $81 million in commitments already.
Here's the breakdown again:
Current contracts (4 players) - $31.4 million
Arbitration (8 players) - $31.1 million
Options (2 players) - $11.7 million
Pre-arbitration (9 players) - $5 million
Jon Singleton (Replacement-level player) - $2 million
Total (23 players) - $81 million
Though there are 23 players listed, Houston still has a few holes on the roster, including one at catcher and a couple in the rotation. Let's say the Astros take the totally defensible stance of non-tendering Brad Peacock and declining the option on Pat Neshek. That cuts our roster number to 21 and frees up $6.8 million from our total.
Assuming Houston stays close to its 2016 budget of $96 million, the Astros would have around $22 million to spend on those four spots.
The Astros still have plenty of roster decision to make. They must decide whether to extend qualifying offers to free agents Jason Castro and Luis Valbuena. They have to consider bringing back Doug Fister and how the roster knits together. They have to decide whether to bring in Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. as a free agent.
But, before we all spin our ideal roster constructions this offseason, think about the money.