Astros Ink Beltran; Tweak Rosters
Winter Meetings Fail To Land Pitching Upgrade

Beltran: Look Who's Back?
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Just when it seemed the Astros had filled their outfield needs, acquiring lefty hitters Nori Aoki and Josh Reddick, the club announced last weekend the signing of OF/DH Carlos Beltran, the former postseason star of the 2004 Astros, to a one-year, $16 million contract. The 40-year-old switch-hitter had a comeback season in 2016 with the Yankees and Rangers (.295 with 29 homers and 93 RBIs in 151 games).

Finding room for those three plus George Springer, Jake Marisnick and a few holdovers like Tony Kemp, Teoscar Hernandez and Preston Tucker will likely result in several prospects spending the year in Fresno.

But, conversely, the Astros' bench will shape up as full of options for A.J. Hinch that will lead to a flood of changing lineups to take advantage of various matchups.

The Astros toyed with bringing aboard Yoenis Cespedes and Edwin Encarnacion, among others, but it would seem their shopping for non-pitchers has ended for the time being.

In other reports, the Astros could not reel in the front-line starting pitcher they wanted at the winter meetings but talks continue. They did claim lefthander Ashur Tolliver on waivers from the Angels to be a candidate for the remaining lefty bullpen spot behind Tony Sipp.

They lost AAA starter Mike Hauschild to the Texas Rangers in the Rule V draft and signed infielder Reid Brignac to a minor league deal to fill the Danny Worth role for this year.

In a surprise, they also inked Cuban lefty Cionel Perez to a $2 million signing bonus after they previously balked on signing him to a $5.15 million bonus earlier in the year. Due to the CBA in place at the time, the Astros will need to pay another $2 million in "luxury tax" for exceeding their international signing cap. Perez is likely to start in A-ball when he makes his debut next spring.

-Bob Hulsey