Astros have plenty of free agent options

With the World Series suddenly over in four quick games, the hot stove season is underway. Teams can begin signing other club’s free agents on Friday night, and the Astros will be involved. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow will have the flexibility to add some free agents this winter, but the Astros aren’t going to be bidding for any of the big names on the market at this stage of their rebuilding process.

So what kind of players will the Astros be targeting? Luhnow would like to add a starting pitcher, some bullpen help and a bat or two to increase run production, which is vital when you consider Houston is now an American League club (get that in your head, folks). With that in mind, here’s a list of some players the Astros could target in free agency (please note some of these players have options for 2013):


Octavio Dotel

2012 club:  Detroit.

Salary: $3 million.

Analysis: The former Astros has 13 Major League stops under his belt, but he keeps going strong. He’s a hard-thrower with plenty of closing experience.

Kyle Farnsworth

2012 club:  Tampa Bay.

Salary: $3.3 million.

Analysis: He wasn’t quite able to duplicate his stellar 2011 season, but that could drive down the price enough for the Astros to land an experienced arm.

Jon Rauch

2012 club:  New York Mets

Salary:  $3.5 million.

Analysis: Workhorse reliever appeared in 73 games last season and has handled a heavy load the last few years. Perhaps he could be a fit in the late innings for the Astros?

Jason Grilli

2012 club:  Pittsburgh.

Salary: $1.1 million.

Analysis: His best days may be behind him, but he took the ball 64 times for the Pirates last season and posted a 2.91 ERA, saving a pair of games.


Joe Blanton

2012 club:  Philadelphia and Los Angeles Dodgers

Salary: $8.5 million

Analysis: If he’s willing to take a big pay cut at this point of his career, Blanton could be plugged into the rotation and guaranteed 30-plus starts if he’s healthy.

Kevin Correia

2012 club:  Pittsburgh.

Salary: $3 million.

Analysis: He’s won 12 games three times in the past 10 years on sub-par teams and could be a solid option to eat some innings in the middle of the rotation. He hasn’t pitched in the AL in his 10 years.

Ryan Demptser

2012 club:  Chicago Cubs and Texas.

Salary: $14 million.

Analysis: Probably way too rich for the Astros’ blood, but he would certainly solidify the top of the rotation alongside Bud Norris, Jordan Lyles and Lucas Harrell.

Anibal Sanchez

2012 club:  Miami and Detroit.

Salary: $8 million.

Analysis: Sanchez would have to take a pay cut to come to Houston, but he would be a good fit. He’s pitched at least 195 innings in each of the last three years.

Edwin Jackson

2012 club:  Washington.

Salary:  $11 million.

Analysis: Another veteran arm who would have to take a pay cut to Houston, but some of his best days came while he was pitching in the American League for Tampa and Detroit.

Shawn Marcum

2012 club:  Milwaukee

Salary: $7.725 million

Analysis: He topped 200 innings in his first year in Milwaukee in 2011, but was limited to 21 starts last year. Perhaps a move back to the American League would be welcomed.

Kyle Lohse

2012 club:  St. Louis.

Salary:  $11.875 million.

Analysis: Considering he’s won 30 games the past two years for the Cardinals, he’s probably going to be priced out of Astros range. But don’t underestimate Luhnow’s Cardinals ties.


Erik Bedard

2012 club:  Pittsburgh.

Salary: $4.5 million.

Analysis: This could be the type of player that will attract the Astros – a veteran coming off a sub-par season and looking for rejuvenation. Hasn’t lived up to hype since winning 15 games for Baltimore in 2006.

Dana Eveland

2012 club:  Baltimore

Salary: $750,000.

Analysis: Could be had on the cheap if the Astros are looking for a left-handed arm to plug into the rotation, but it’s been five years since he started more than 13 games.


Xavier Nady

2012 club:  Washington and San Francisco

Salary: $700,000.

Analysis: He’s been reduced to a part-time role at age 33, but he’s versatile in that he could play first base, outfield and handle designated hitter duties.

Angel Pagan

2012 club:  San Francisco.

Salary: $4.85 million.

Analysis: Coming off one of the best years of his career and a World Series championship with the Giants, Pagan would fit nicely into the Astros’ outfield if he’s not too pricey.

Raul Ibanez

2012 club:  New York Yankees.

Salary: $1.1 million.

Analysis: He’s 40 years old, but he proved in the playoffs he’s got plenty remaining in the tank. He would be ideal to be a designated hitter at this point in his career.

Scott Hairston

2012 club:  New York Mets

Salary: $1.1 million.

Analysis: He had his best power season of his career in 2012 when he slugged 20 homers for the Mets. He’s never appeared in the playoffs in nine years in the league, which could be a priority at this point in his career.


Rod Barajas

2012 club:  Pittsburgh.

Salary: $4 million.

Analysis: Barajas would be an ideal backup for Jason Castro and provide the Astros some much-needed power at the position.

Henry Blanco

2012 club:  Arizona.

Salary: $1.2 million.

Analysis: He hasn’t played much the last two years and might not bring enough offense to the table. If the Astros are looking for a cheap back up, he could be an option.

Ronny Paulino

2012 club:  Baltimore

Salary: $1 million.

Analysis: He hasn’t been a bad offensive player throughout his career, but doesn’t have much power anymore. Another cheap option as a back up.

David Ross

2012 club:  Atlanta

Salary: $1.625 million.

Analysis: He’s done a nice job backing up Brian McCann the past four years and last season hit .256 with nine homers and 23 RBIs. He could get more playing time in Houston in ’13 considering DH options.

Kelly Shoppach

2012 club:  New York Mets.

Salary: $1.35 million.

Analysis:  His production and playing time have slipped the last few years, but maybe a move back to his native Texas and a return to the American League could provide a career boost.


Lance Berkman

2012 club:  St. Louis.

Salary: $12 million.

Analysis: Yes, it would be a great feel-good story if Berkman returned to his hometown Astros, where he could DH and save his knees. He’ll have to decide if he wants to keep playing.

Carlos Pena

2012 club:  Tampa Bay.

Salary: $7.25 million.

Analysis: He doesn’t hit for a very high average anymore, but he could be plugged into the DH role and be good for 25-30 homers.

Jonny Gomes

2012 club:  Oakland.

Salary: $1 million.

Analysis: If you’re looking for an ideal designated hitter candidate, Gomes is your guy. He hit 18 homers in only 279 at-bats for the A’s last season and comes on the cheap.

James Loney

2012 club:  Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston.

Salary: $6.375 million.

Analysis: Houston native’s game has slipped the last few years, but his hometown could be attractive to give him a season to get his left-handed swing back together.

Eric Chavez

2012 club:  New York Yankees.

Salary: $900,000.

Analysis: Chavez stayed healthy and had a nice bounce-back season for the Yankees last season, which could mean he’ll be looking for a bigger payday than the Astros are willing to offer.

Mark DeRosa

2012 club:  Washington.

Salary: $800,000.

Analysis: His game has really slipped offensive the past few years, but the Astros could be willing to take a flier on him at 37 years old.

Scott Rolen

2012 club:  Cincinnati.

Salary: $6.5 million.

Analysis: Rolen’s power numbers have dropped dramatically since his heyday with the Phillies and Cardinals. Could be undergo an offensive surge if he doesn’t have to play defense.


Wow, so many options! Can’t wait to see how the Astros do in free agency. I would love to see Berkman finish out his career here in Houston!!


Brian, looks like a good list, but the one’s for the Astros seem price our of range, but they may take a lower price to get a team to play with, the lower price guys probably would not befinefit our team that much, so where do we go from there ??   Develope what we have and hope they come around, we do need starters and hitters right now !!!!       Ralph        

I looked at your list, and started laughing. You think *ANY* of these guys would come here??????? And, Jim Crane ain’t gonna open up his wallet for ANY guy who wants more than $1.99 to sign. Yeah, this made a LOT of us laugh. Keep on dreaming!

Wow Becky, you’re a peach. It’s amazing you’re even an Astros fan with all the negativeness you spew!!

I do believe Puma would possibly come back…I remember before he was traded he said he would take a pay cut to stay…he is a believer in everything and to have a guy like him back in our system would be great…I believe if they offer him some sort of job for when he would retire he would take it…I don’t believe that we should go after any fielding players just develop what we have in the system or on the team cause there is a lot of promise…if we could get a solid set up guy to rotate with Lopez that may be the only other free agent we need…we need to show faith in the players we have and build on them not bring in high price tags for a few years

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