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Astros: No Remaining Position Player Free Agents Are Worth the Cost

Astros fans seem to want the team to make a BIG MOVE. I put my plan for improving the Astros in two articles for you.



There are no big moves for the offense in my plan.


Here is why. A quick review where we have been from a quick WAR viewpoint:

Astros 2023 Batting WAR- 27.2- Fifth Best in the MLB

Astros 2024 Projected WAR before no FA- 29.8

Astros 2024 Projected WAR IF they signed Maldonado- 28.8

Astros 2024 Projected WAR with Caratini and no Maldonado- 30.9- Third Best in the MLB


I wrote more about this here.



Every year when I start to consider what the Astros may do in the offseason, I focus my attention to what the Astros need. I largely ignore the broader free agent and trade markets and to salaries I know are beyond their budget.


Shohei Ohtani signed a massive free agent deal, and a portion of Astros social media was pissed and complaining about how the Astros weren't doing anything and how Jim Crane is "cheap." Neither of these things is true.


We discussed the Payroll situation multiple times on this site.


The Astros signed the TENTH highest projected WAR player at half (or way less) of the price any of the others in the top 10 will get and Astros fans are STILL acting like they haven't done enough to help the bats.


Per the previous article


I don't know how else to say this. For Astros fans wanting the team to make a major improvement by signing a big free agent, the fact that Maldonado will not be getting 300+ PA vs. RHP will be a bigger improvement than almost any free agent the Astros could afford.


Given the hysteria, I asked myself "who is it that they want?" I pulled up this list on Fangraphs FA list and assumed the fanbase wanted an OF or a 1B to replace their two scapegoats - Abreu and Meyers. Here are the top projected WAR FAs at 1B and OF.

FA

Let me say this before we go any further. You may not believe in projected stats and expected stats. This will not be an enjoyable place for you because I do. I do because the TEAMS do. Teams do not pay players for what they have done. They pay them for what they can project and expect them to do in the future. My website exists partly to help you understand how front offices think and how teams make decisions.


You can disagree and dismiss projected stats. Almost the entire fan base did last year with Dubon. They refused to believe his expected stats and dismissed them. I didn't believe the projected stats on Dubon either, BUT I knew what they said and tempered my comments accordingly. Never again. I am trusting the projections IF they have alignment. The projected stats were right and those that dismissed them were wrong.


Bader is just a rich man's Meyers as far as I am concerned. I will show you why I say that later.


I sent out this poll of Twitter yesterday to find out who I should really study are they a fit for the Astros.


Twitter Poll

I wish I had stopped at just the first three and given folks the option to say "No one, use those resources on pitching." You may see that poll soon after this article.


In this article we will address these major FA remaining options and show why no remaining position player free agents are worth the cost for the Astros.


Here are my criteria for a viable Astros position player FA

  • Projected AAV <$9M/Yr

  • Projected WAR > 1.7 - Meyer's 2023 WAR

  • Projected wRC+ of at least 110 overall

  • Project OPS greater than 0.750

  • Prefer LHH or switch hitter who is good vs. RHP

  • Above average fielder

  • Bonus if capable of playing CF and 1B.

  • Prefer under 34

  • Prefer 2023 xwOBA both platoon splits > 0.300

  • No Recent Major Injuries


Analysis Grid

For my analysis here I rate each player by the metric list above.

I also allocated the playing time distribution for the addition of each player and calculated the WAR impact.


By this analysis Gurriel would be the best fit in the metric analysis.

By this analysis Bellinger and Hoskins have the biggest positive impact.

By this analysis Bader would be the most efficient spending.


Honestly, that means to me NONE of these is worth the cost. The $9M to $24M AAV would be better allocated to pitching help.


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