Astros Extend Offers To Ten
Eovaldi Latest Rumored Target

Cole: Big payday ahead
(c) The Sporting News
After adding three players to the 40-man roster in order to keep them away from the Rule 5 Draft (pitchers Rogelio Armenteros and Bryan Abreu along with catcher Garrett Stubbs), the Astros extended contract offers to ten players on their roster - pitchers Gerrit Cole, Chris Devenski, Will Harris, Lance McCullers, Collin McHugh, Roberto Osuna, Brad Peacock and Ryan Pressly as well as shortstop Carlos Correa and outfielder Jake Marisnick. Cole and Correa would be the two that would likely cost the most.

Cole had an outstanding season in his first year with the Astros after coming over from Pittsburgh. The Scott Boras client made $6.75 million in his second year of arbitration and is expected to double that figure this winter.

Correa, a former Rookie of the Year, made $1 million leading up to this, his first arbitration season. His enormous potential was hampered this season principally due to a mid-summer back injury that affected him the rest of the campaign. He is likely to still be paid well. He could be a player the Astros will seek to lock up long term.

Harris is a curious situation since he had a $5.5 million club option written into last year's contract but Houston declined it so it can be presumed that he'll be offered somewhere between the $2.8 million the former All-Star made last year and the $5.5 million the front office already passed on.

Players have until January 11th to reach a deal before the two sides must exchange final arbitration numbers. McHugh has won his case each of the last two years as a starting pitcher. Will he do so again when he was principally a good reliever?

One player who was not offered was catcher Chris Herrmann whom the Astros claimed from Seattle just a month ago. That leaves Stubbs and Max Stassi as the only catchers on the roster. Brian McCann's option was declined and he has signed with Atlanta. Martin Maldonado is still an option while the team is also pursuing Yasmani Grandal. Hermann is eligible to be re-signed but it seems odd they would allow him to go to free agency if that was past of the plan.

The Astros also played musical chairs with some coaching and front office positions, adding Don Kelly as the first base coach and Josh Miller added as the bullpen coach.

Houston appears to be rather quiet on the trade and free agency fronts leading into the Winter Meetings in mid-December. Pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, a Houston native and member of the World Champion Red Sox, is rumored to be a present focus. He earned just $2 million last season but is expected to be a third or fourth starter option and make substantially more in 2019. I'm always interested to know who Pitching Coach Brett Strom thinks he can work his magic on. He's had such great results with several Astro hurlers. Charlie Morton was just his latest success story.

Finally, the city of Houston lost two titans in the past 30 days with the passing of Houston Texans owner Bob McNair and former U.S. President George H.W. Bush. Neither were connected with the Astros in more than a sharing of the sports spotlight but Bush and his wife Barbara were frequent attendees at both Astros and Texans games. In retrospect, it was good that the Bushes could witness the Astros win a World Championship before passing away. Like the rest of us, they had a long, long wait before that wish came true.

The folks at Astros Daily note their passings with regret and offer our prayerful condolences to their families with the reminder that even people of great wealth and power cannot postpone that appointment at death's door. It is a time for careful contemplation for us all.

- Bob Hulsey