Astros seeking additions after quiet Meetings
General manager Luhnow looking to add veteran reliever to bullpen mix, bat to lineup
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Behind the scenes, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow sat down with numerous agents and talked to several teams about possible trades during his four-day stay at baseball's annual Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort.
The Astros left Central Florida without making much news, with the exception of trading for right-handed pitcher Anthony Bass to add to their bullpen mix. Luhnow said on Thursday before leaving for Houston that his pursuit of a veteran relief pitcher and another bat to add to the lineup will continue.
The Astros made an offer to veteran pitcher Jose Veras, who pitched the first half of the season with Houston before being traded to the Tigers. Veras wants to pitch again for the Astros, but he turned down the club's initial offer.
Houston also pursued sluggers Corey Hart and Mike Morse before they signed with other teams, and the Astros had talked to the Marlins about a trade for first baseman Logan Morrison before he was dealt to the Mariners.
"Things are close and then they're not close all of a sudden," Luhnow said. "We were actively in pursuit of several players, some of which did wind up signing this week or being traded. And some haven't gone yet, so we're going to continue to pursue the ones we're interested in."
Luhnow said the Astros have a handful of offers on the table.
"We don't make offers just to make offers," he said. "We make offers when we think the player is a good fit for us and what we're offering has a good chance of being accepted. We do carefully consider it before putting it out there. When we make an offer, it means we're serious about signing that player."
Deals done: The club pulled off a trade by acquiring Bass from San Diego in exchange for a player to be named, who wound up being top Rule 5 Draft pick Patrick Schuster. The Astros selected Schuster for the Padres as part of the deal.
Bass gives the Astros a pitcher with Major League experience and with the flexibility of being able to send him down to the Minor Leagues if needed.
Rule 5 Draft activity: The Astros didn't acquire any players in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, but they took outfielder Ravel Santana (Yankees) and left-handed pitcher Carlos Vazquez (Mets) in the Triple-A phase, while taking a shot on left-handed knuckleball pitcher Blaine Sims (Braves) in the Double-A portion.
The only player the Astros lost in the Rule 5 Draft was right-handed pitcher Enderson Franco, who played for Rookie League Greeneville last season.
Goals accomplished: The Astros added some depth to their bullpen with Bass. In addition to Bass and Chad Qualls, who signed a two-year deal with an option last week, Houston has added Darin Downs and Raul Valdes to its bullpen mix this offseason.
Unfinished business: The Astros are still expected to sign a veteran relief pitcher, likely a closer, to put in the bullpen. Among the offers the Astros made was to Veras, who closed for Houston the first half of last season. The club is still trying to acquire another bat, likely someone who can play first base.
Team's bottom line: "I think we laid the foundation," Luhnow said. "There's still a lot of unsigned players out there. We've had a lot of conversations with agents; we've talked to some teams. It just didn't break our way the last three days, but we're confident over the coming weeks' they'll be some additional transactions."