So it would appear today that the Astros are making some quick, temporary fixes to weaknesses on their roster with two free agents. Former Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus has already been signed for $8M, and former Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong is likely to sign before long. Does this help the Astros in 2015? Probably. Let’s see. Remember, 2015 is not World Series or bust. It’s .500 or it’s okay; there’s always next year.
The trade with the Braves to bring Evan Gattis to Houston probably should have signaled the departure of soon-to-be free agent Dexter Fowler, who was traded to the Cubs. It made sense: he was one year from free agency, and was asking for $10.8M in his final year of arbitration. That’s a steep price to pay, and Gattis was going to be super cheap since he isn’t even arbitration-eligible yet. I didn’t really expect them to sign another outfielder though, and yet, here we are. So the outfield is probably going to look something like this:
LF: Evan Gattis
CF: Colby Rasmus
RF: George Springer
That’s not a bad outfield at all. It’s got 20-30 home run potential for each member, though the low batting average, high strikeout tendencies from Rasmus and Springer are troubling. Did we need Rasmus though? Well, here are the other options at their disposal (via the 40 man roster):
Marisnick is probably the best bet to get at bats, and was more than likely going to be the de facto starter in center (or right, depending on how they feel about Springer in center) before the signing. He’s still young though, and could definitely get time in the outfield during various injuries or if Rasmus flames out again. Of course, Jon Singleton could hit another roadblock at first and be forced back to AAA. In that case, it’s likely Gattis and his lead glove would head there, opening up left for Marisnick, who I find the most acceptable alternative in the fold.
Grossman and Presley were likely the backups, and neither of them are particularly that good. Their youth gives them at least one positive on their side (though you could say that about most Astros). As for Hoes and Santana, they performed so pitifully in 2014, I wouldn’t be surprised to see both of them in AAA to start the season.
Is it a perfect outfield? Certainly not. Rasmus and Springer strike out a ton and couldn’t hit .250 in 2014, and Gattis’ glove is a major issue. Still, there’s youth and power aplenty here, and Rasmus, though he had an awful 2014, had good seasons prior to that, and could find himself again here in Houston. And as I was writing this blog, that $4M+ became $8M for one year. $2.8M saved over Fowler, I guess, but that’s still a hefty chunk of change for our little payroll team.
While the deal for Ryan Vogelsong hasn’t yet been completed, it’s possible this becomes a reality. If so, what then? Well, unlike the Rasmus deal, I have less reservations towards it, as long as it’s only a one year deal (or perhaps a one year deal with an option). Vogelsong is an aging, back of the rotation starter, but I have a feeling that’s exactly who the Astros are trying to sign. The front of the rotation is actually pretty good right now, and while Collin McHugh, Dallas Keuchel, and Scott Feldman aren’t names that are setting the world on fire, they’re certainly not an embarrassment to our fair city. The back of the rotation, though? Problems.
SP4: Brett Oberholtzer
SP5: Brad Peacock
I like Obie. While everyone was gawking over Jared Cosart in 2013, I was pulling for him. It didn’t work out for anyone, as Obi struggled (it felt like he got sent down four times) and Cosart was traded to the Marlins. Peacock was even worse, if you can believe that. A couple offseason trades have gutted the options we had all (and by all, maybe it’s just me) hoped would be fighting for a rotation spot, as Nick Tropeano was traded to the Angels and Mike Foltynewicz (first try!) went to the Braves. At this point in time, the main competition for Peacock’s spot as #5 pitcher (I just say Peacock because I secretly hope Oberholtzer will win the Cy Young award) are Sam Deduno (a Twins castoff) and Dan Straily (a new acquisition from the Fowler trade who had a horrendous 2014). Based on that competition, it would seem likely that Peacock would start the season in the rotation. Horrifying. Then here comes Vogelsong. As long as the contract isn’t ridiculous (and I suspect it won’t be), this is a good stopgap signing, and I think it’ll most likely be money well spent.
Overall, the two signings aren’t terrible, and they’re not going to sink the franchise into oblivion (we miss you, Folty!). While I’m not 100% convinced we needed to sign Rasmus (I liked the Gattis/Marisnick/Springer outfield), Vogelsong should be a good innings eater in the back of the rotation (assumedly as a #4 starter), and bring a veteran presence to the rotation with Feldman (for whatever that’s worth). I’ll update this whenever more information about the Vogelsong signing comes around.
One more thing: Carlos Corporan was designated for assignment to make room for Rasmus. Hope you enjoy Arlington, Carlos. I’m rooting for you.
Now can someone explain to me why we needed to trade Tropeano for a backup catcher?