Results tagged ‘ Jason Michaels ’
The free agent filing period began Thursday, with outfielder/infielder Darin Erstad, outfielder Jason Michaels and pitcher Mike Hampton filing for free agency. Shortstop Miguel Tejada, closer Jose Valverde and reliever LaTroy Hawkins are expected to file in the coming days.
The Astros have a 15-day exclusive negotiating window with their own free agents and are hoping to get something done soon with Hawkins. Tejada and Valverde will certainly test the free agency waters.
Tejada, Valverde and Hawkins have been classified by the Elias Sports Bureau as Type A free agents, which means simply they are among the best in baseball at their positions. It also means the Astros could receive an additional first-round draft pick next year if they offer them arbitration and they wind up signing with another team.
Of course, offering arbitration is tricky. Tejada made roughly $15 million last season, so if they offer him arbitration and he accepts, he could wind up making a ton of money after leading the team in hits and driving in 86 runs. But if they don’t offer Tejada arbitration and he signs elsewhere, they get nothing.
The same is true with Valverde, who made $8 million last year and is likely headed for a raise. If the Astros offered arbitration to both Valverde and Tejada and they both accept, they could make a combined $25 million next year. That would put a choke hold on the payroll. Houston already owes Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Carlos Lee and Kaz Matsui a combined $54.5 million next year, and several players are due for large raises in arbitration.
“We have to keep our eye on both balls,” Astros general manager Ed Wade said. “We have to pay attention to the short term, and if there’s a free agent out there we feel we can’t walk past and is costs us a draft pick then we have to deal with that. At the same time, there’s nothing more valuable to the overall long-term picture than draft picks.
“Whether it’s sacrificing draft picks or picking up additional draft picks by offering salary arbitration and run the risk of having the player accept, we have to evaluate the different variables involved. When it comes down to it, if there’s a Major League free agent we think we can’t live without and we have a chance to sign them and them are faced with losing a second-round pick in the process.”
Elias ranks all Major League players numerically based on their stats from the last two years. The players are grouped by five positions by league – first base/outfield, catcher, second base-shortstop-third base, starting pitching and relief pitching. The top 20 percent at each position are considered Type A free agents, and the next 20 percent are Type B.
Teams that lose a Type A free agent receive the first-round draft pick from next year’s First-Year Player Draft from the signing team (provided it’s not in the Top 15) in addition to a supplemental pick between the first and second round. Teams losing a Type B free agent receive a supplemental pick, with the signing team keeping its draft choice.
The good news for the Astros is their pick in next June’s First-Player Draft is in the first half of first round (No. 8), so they will keep their first-round pick even if they sign a Type A free agent. They would give up their second-round pick instead of their first-round pick in that case.
Teams have until Dec. 1 to offer salary arbitration to their own free agents, and the players have until Dec. 7 to decide if they’re going to accept.
In case you’re wondering, Randy Wolf is a Type A free agent.
Beginning today, players eligible for free agency can start filing. For the Astros, that list includes Darin Erstad, LaTroy Hawkins, Jason Michaels, Miguel Tejada and Jose Valverde, who has already said he’s going to test the free-agent waters. Aaron Boone and Mike Hampton are also eligible, but Boone could retire and Hampton’s career appears to be done.
Those eligible for free agency have 15 days to file and their former team has exclusive negotiating rights for that period. Players are free to talk to other teams, but they can’t talk about contract offers in terms of dollars without risking tampering.
The Astros could sign either of their own free agents, just as they did last week with Geoff Blum. They’re in talks with Hawkins and hope to re-sign him. Michaels could also return, but the big names are Tejada and Valverde. I see Valverde’s price being too high for the Astros, and I don’t envision Tejada returning. It all depends on what kind of market there is for Tejada and whether he wants to take a large pay cut and play third base.
Those looking at possible free agents for the Astros down the road? The Dodgers have declined the option of Jon Garland, who went a combined 11-13 with a 4.01 ERA between Arizona and the L.A. Dodgers. The Astros made a run at him a couple of years ago and could do so again.
The Astros had an unusual lineup Saturday against the Dodgers with Chris Coste at first base and Jason Michaels in center field. Coste was playing in place of the injured Lance Berkman, and Michaels was in place of Michael Bourn, who was given the day off.
“I need to get Michaels going somehow,” manager Cecil Cooper said. “I think this is a pretty good test, and the other guy [Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw] has been tough against left-handed hitters. This will give Michaels a chance to hopefully get going.”
This will be the 10th start of the season for Michaels. He’s hitting .173 this season, and eight of his 13 hits have been doubles.
Coste, acquired July 10 off waivers from Philadelphia, will be making his first start for the Astros while facing a left-handed starter.
“That’s going to be his role for now,” Cooper said. “That’s going to be a role he can fill.”
Second baseman Kaz Matsui, who’s hitting lead-off with Bourn out, has four consecutive multi-hit games coming into Saturday. He has reached base safely via a hit or walk in 10 consecutive games. Batting right-handed, he’s hitting .348 with a .444 on-base percentage this year.
“He’s been really going strong,” he said. “He’s really swung good from the right side. The left side, he’s been missing a little bit and chasing a lot of bad balls. The last few games he’s looked much better from the left side.”
Cooper said Matsui would likely be out of the lineup Sunday for rest.