In a span of two weeks, the Houston Astros have spent a combined $53 million on free agent salaries.
This, just one month after bankruptcy court finalized CSN Houston’s reorganization plan.
Coincidence? Astros GM Jeff Luhnow says no.
“Certainly having a TV deal in place and having more visibility on future revenues helps you be able to figure out what your payroll’s going to be and make the necessary investments.”
Those include shortstop Jed Lowrie (3/$22M) and relievers Luke Gregerson (3/$18M) and Pat Neshek (2/$12M), all signed in the past few days.
The Astros did spend about $43.8 million on free agents last winter, including right-hander Scott Feldman (3/$30M) and reliever Chad Qualls (2/$6M), but for a franchise that long struggled to get income security through cable carriage fees from a majority of households in the local market, the timing is notable.
It remains to be seen how much, if at all, the organization’s spending habits will change.
Luhnow has said his top priorities this offseason are, in order, bolstering baseball’s worst bullpen, improving a young and holey lineup and deepening his starting rotation. So far, he’s checked two of those boxes.
He said on Tuesday that he hopes to add another veteran arm to his staff. Houston is reportedly among the teams interested in trading for Phillies $144 million left-hander Cole Hamels.
Last year, the Astros $44.5 million payroll was the lowest in baseball.
“These are the pieces that we need to improve the team for next year, and I think we will be involved in the free agent market every year moving forward,” Luhnow said.
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