Astros make offers to Brocail, Wolf
Club looking to bring two of three remaining free agents back into fold
The Astros have offered contracts to two of their three remaining free agents, pitchers Randy Wolf and Doug Brocail, Astros general manager Ed Wade confirmed to MLB.com on Wednesday.
Wade would not provide specifics regarding the offers. The Astros have exclusive negotiating rights until Friday, when other teams can begin making offers.
"We've made offers to both Randy and Doug," Wade said. "We made an offer to Randy's guy earlier this week. We've had ongoing negotiations with Brocail for a while now. We have not had any conversations with Mark Loretta's agent, but that's not to say we would not like to at some point. But our priority has been the pitchers."
The Astros had previously declined Brocail's $3.25 million option for 2009, but hope to re-sign him for less money. Brocail has indicated a desire to return, though multiple teams in addition to Houston, including the Red Sox, are interested in the right-hander.
"That wouldn't surprise me that other teams are interested in Doug, he had an outstanding year for us," Wade said.
Brocail went 7-5 with a 3.93 ERA in a career-high 72 appearances last season. He is a Type A free agent, which means the Astros would receive two Draft picks in compensation (a first- or second-round pick plus a supplemental pick, depending on the team) if Brocail signs elsewhere before Dec. 1, or if the Astros offer arbitration and he signs elsewhere after that date.
Brocail was paid a base salary of $2.5 million this year, not counting an additional $250,000 he earned in performance bonuses.
Wade hasn't placed time limits on the offers but will consider other options in the meantime.
"We would like to get something done sooner rather than later," Wade said. "If it doesn't get done by Friday, then we're going to have to be there looking in the market for other alternatives, we can't allow this to drag out to where we can't find viable alternatives to fill our needs. It's no secret we'd like to have Randy back, he pitched very well for us. Our No. 1 [free agent reliever] choice is Doug. If it doesn't happen, there are a group of experienced relievers we'll have to take a look at."
Wade is considering both free agent and trade possibilities to address those needs.
Wolf and Loretta are Type B free agents, which means they come with sandwich pick compensation for the Astros should they sign with another team.
Wolf, 32, went 6-2 with a 3.57 ERA in 12 starts with the Astros and a combined 12-12 with a 4.30 ERA in 33 starts for the Padres and Astros. He finished in the top 10 in the National League in starts and shutouts. The Astros were 10-2 in games started by Wolf, whose 2008 base salary was $4.75 million.
The Astros won their arbitration case against Loretta last winter. Loretta had been seeking $4.9 million while the Astros offered $2.75 million.
The Astros would like him back but are sure to have competition beginning Friday.
Loretta, 37, hit .280, including .330 vs. lefties, with a .356 on-base percentage in 261 at-bats for the Astros this year. He hit .318 during the second half of the season to help the Astros climb back in the NL Central Division race.
Loretta was the team's best pinch-hitter this year, batting .367 (11-for-30) with two homers and 12 RBIs. He also played all four infield positions. Loretta was paid $2.75 million this year after losing in arbitration.
The Astros had two other free agents from this year's team. Catcher Brad Ausmus will likely retire, and Wade signed right-hander LaTroy Hawkins to a one-year deal worth $3.5 million plus incentives last week.
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.