Wade discusses state of market
With more than 100 free agents still on the market and the start of Spring Training six weeks away, things will begin heating up as the month of January progresses. Those hoping for the Astros to open their wallets shouldn’t get their hopes up. The Astros won’t be a player for any of the remaining big-name free agents.
Houston signed right-hander Josh Banks to a Minor League deal this week to compete for a spot in the bullpen. Expect the Astros to perhaps sign another pitcher or two to a Minor League deal before the start of Spring Training, and they are also are in the market for a left-handed-hitting outfielder.
“It’s pretty quiet, even from an industry standpoint,” general manager Ed Wade said. “I talked to some other clubs and talked a few agents over the holidays and things seem to be very quiet on just about every front. That will change now that everybody is back from the holidays and we’ve still got a rather large list of free agents out there.
“By virtue of the fact you have a lot of players on the free agent market, that could have an impact on trade discussions as well. It’s not a great trade environment at this point in time because teams will wait to see if they can satisfy their needs through free agency rather than giving up players in return.”
Meanwhile, Tuesday is the first day players can begin filing for salary arbitration. Houston has seven players eligible for arbitration – center fielder Michael Bourn, infielder Jeff Keppinger, outfielder Hunter Pence, catcher Humberto Quintero and pitchers Tim Byrdak, Wandy Rodriguez and Chris Sampson.
Wade doesn’t anticipate any problems reaching deals with any of the arbitration-eligible players, and he doesn’t plan on working on multi-year deals with rising stars Bourn, Pence and Rodriguez.
“At this point, our focus is going to be a year at a time,” Wade said. “That could change, but at this point we think it’s proven to stay short versus long. Our goal and our expectation is to get all of our eligible players signed and not have to go through the process itself.”
The players and clubs can exchange salary figures Jan. 20. If no deal is reached, hearings will be held Feb. 1-21.