As we head into Monday's baseball Winter Meetings the big question is how much autonomy Dave Gottfried will be granted. Probably not much. As good an opportunity as the meetings provide to network with other executives Gottfried and his staff, probably with George Postolos looming over him, is to keep channels open and as many landing spots for Wandy Rodriguez open as possible, while also tentatively pushing the news that Carlos Lee and Brett Myers are available for anyone wishing to take them off the Astros hands.
Surely, the logic goes, a couple of teams would be willing to pony up $5m for Carlos Lee and $7m for Brett Myers on the equivalent of one-year deals. The Astros budget, sitting at $45.2m for 2012 without arbitration and minimum contracts factored in, could be cut by half if they manage to make savings on Lee and Myers, and shift the $10m owed to Rodriguez in 2012. A deal for the lefty, which would hinge on the Astros getting back significant prospects, would need Houston to eat a significant chunk of the roughly $36m owed as has been discussed again and again this year. That would be, in my opinion, in the region of $6-10m, making Rodriguez an affordable three-years $26m for any new club.
Meanwhile the Astros search for someone to fill Ed Wade's shoes goes on, with the elephant Andrew Friedman still hanging over everyone else. Should Friedman not be available the two men interviewed this week, Jeff Luhnow, the Cardinals VP of Player Procurement and Rockies Assistant GM Bill Geivett.
Taking the most significant deal of the offseason out of the hands of the new GM would be an odd move, and the best way for getting what they want for Rodriguez is to play losers of other acquisitions against each other. I saw one report last week that said as many as fourteen, repeat fourteen, teams were in the hunt for Mark Buerhle. Rodriguez does not have the long track record of Buerhle, but they are at similar ages (32 last year), but if you look at their respective value from 2008-2010, according to FanGraphs, Rodriguez has been worth around $51.4m and Buerhle $66.5.
Another intriguing option is Yu Darvish, if and when he gets posted. Hiroki Kuroda is another name floating about unsigned, as is Matt Garza, who the Cubs are reportedly listening to offers on. Other mutterings on the market is the Reds are going hard after a starting pitcher, with the Rays James Shields one possible target. The Braves have also fielded calls on Jair Jurrjens.
Rodriguez could be an even more valuable commodity when C.J. Wilson is reportedly seeking a five-year $100m contract? Anyone want to argue that Rodriguez was overpaid and it was a mistake to give him the moderate contract Wade did?
So what do we need to know about Mr Gottfried. Well, he has been in Houston's baseball operations department since 1998 and spent two years as a baseball operations assistant before being made Director of Minor League Administration. He was then made senior director of baseball operations in January 2005, before being made assistant general manager for player relations in December 2006.
Does Gottfried has the nouse to keep the home-fires burning until the next GM takes control of the Astros? Lets hope so.