If the Astros have their way, their most expensive player in their final year in the National League could be rehabbing reliever Brandon Lyon.
Even without a permanent general manager employed, the Astros are at the winter meetings shopping Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers and Carlos Lee, according to Scott Miller of CBS Sports.
While Rodriguez is still somewhat attractive at $36 million for the next three years, the Astros know there will be no takers for Myers and Lee at their current prices. That’s why they’re willing to pay half of what those two are owed, says Miller. Myers will make $11 million next year, and there’s a $10 million vesting option for 2013 on his contract that includes a $3 million buyout. Lee will make $18.5 million next year in what will finally be the final season of his six-year, $100 million contract.
Myers could be worthy gamble at $6 million-$7 million next year, but the vesting option is likely to scare suitors off. Lee would be a tough sell even at $9 million after hitting .275/.342/.446 last season.
If the Astros due rid themselves of all three, then they could well enter the season with a 25-man roster making $18 million or less. Lyon, at $5.5 million, will probably start off on the disabled list. Their only players eligible for arbitration are J.A. Happ and Humberto Quintero, and those two should combine to earn around $3 million. They’ll probably go bargain hunting for a shortstop and a starting pitcher or two, but they won’t be looking to make any significant commitments.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.