Prediction: The Astros will not offer a qualifying offer to any of their free agents by the end of the day.
November 7th is the last day that teams have to extend a qualifying offer to their free agents. This is the end of the five-day window to keep the services of the in-house free agents. Should they not be extended a qualifying offer, there will not be a draft pick associated with signing them. It is pretty obvious that two of our four Astros’ free agents will land with a team. Neither is worth the $17.2 price tag needed for when the player accepts.
Article continues below ...
Unless you have been totally oblivious to the free agent situation, Luis Valbuena, Colby Rasmus, Jason Castro, and Doug Fister are free agents. Until the end of the day, Houston has exclusive rights to sign or offer a qualifying offer to. I don’t see them offering anyone of the four players a qualifying offer.
Why not accept a qualifying offer?
Before Rasmus accepted the Astros qualifying offer before the 2016 season, no player had accepted it under the current CBA. The Astros took the risk of having him accept the offer or receive a draft pick should he have declined the offer and signed elsewhere. On Talking Stros, we have talked many times about how Rasmus accepting affected the last offseason.
You might look at the $17.2 million dollar offer and wonder why many players don’t take it. There were some whispers that Rasmus was seeking a short-term option because he was considering retiring. The Astros will not make the same decision in 2017, especially the way that Rasmus disappeared at the end of the year.
A look at the Astros free agents.
Most players decline the qualifying offers because they are seeking the security of a multi-year deal. While Rasmus may be seeking a year to year type deal, the other Astros free agents are looking for longer deals. Valbuena and Castro are both still young and productive enough to earn a three-year deal at the minimum.
The Astros are looking to retain the services of Castro and possibly Valbuena. But they have a plan b options should these players leave. Valbuena is not needed on this team with Alex Bregman, Yulieski Gurriel, and A.J. Reed. However, Valbuena’s left-handed power is something that the Stros could use.
Fister is the least likely of the four to return in 2017. He was brought in under a one-year deal to help build up his value for another team after the 2016 season. While he was one of the better pitchers at the beginning of the season, he wore down in the second half. He was a great gamble for 2016, but I don’t see the Astros retaining him.
Today’s decisions will affect the team’s offseason plans.
While today’s offers will not affect Astros free agents, it will affect the players they will be able to sign. The organization prizes its draft picks. It’s not likely to see Luhnow to sign more than one player with a qualifying offer attached. The team could get by without the first round pick, but I don’t see them giving up a second as well.
Look for Luhnow to target one player with a qualifying offer attached and possibly another without one via free agency. Then look for them to address other needs through trades or from within the majors. This offseason is critical for the Stros. They must add to the current roster to contend in 2017. Castro is the most likely player that the team would re-sign.