LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Astros general manager Ed Wade didn't want to go as far as saying his team was getting closer to making a roster move at some point this week, but the first day of baseball's annual Winter Meetings certainly provided him with a sense of optimism.
"I feel better about where we right now from the potential of being able to do something than maybe I did before the tender deadline, before we had a chance to come down here and talk about what our situation is," Wade said.
Wade and more than a dozen members of the Astros' front office staff met for about two hours Monday afternoon in the team's suite at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort to discuss both trade and free agency scenarios.
The Astros reached out and communicated with several clubs on Monday to see if there was any potential trade matches that made sense for Houston, and assistant general manager David Gottfried reached out to some agents in the lobby to gauge interest.
"There's always the potential for things to get done, but there's nothing I would say is on the near horizon right now," Wade said.
The Astros are still on the hunt for a left-handed-hitting outfielder, a bargain starting pitcher and a middle infielder to add some offense to the lineup. Wade said the club has been given a set payroll figure for 2011 by owner Drayton McLane -- one Wade says is manageable. What's for sure is the Astros won't be spending tons of money.
"We have guidelines, and if we make smart decisions we'll be OK," Wade said. "That's the best way I can say it. We know what our numbers are. I think Drayton's showing some real significant payroll flexibility on our number. We're not walking around with blank checks in our pocket, but at the same time, if we could do certain things in an intelligent fashion, I think we have a chance to get better."
It was reported Monday the Astros were looking to trade Matt Lindstrom and Jeff Keppinger in an effort to cut payroll in the wake of the impending sale of the team, but the Astros aren't actively shopping the pair as much as they are willing to listen to offers for any of their players.
"I think you always listen," Wade said. "I've learned over time 'No' should always be a reasonable response, whether it's entertaining offers from other clubs or making proposals to other teams. We shouldn't be offended by what other clubs have to say, and hopefully they're not, either.
"That's sometimes easier said than done. I've been asked about good players. I've had teams ask me about Wandy Rodriguez, they've asked me about Hunter Pence, they've asked me about Michael Bourn. They've asked about the better players on our club, and it's nice to know there's a level of interest there, but it doesn't mean we have to act on it."
Various reports Monday had the Astros targeting outfielders Ryan Church of the D-backs and Jeremy Hermida of the A's, both of who seem to fill the club's need of a low-cost, left-handed-hitting outfielder. A report out of Minnesota linked the Astros to shortstop J.J. Hardy, but he doesn't fit.
Wade has a policy of not commenting on trade speculation, but the club is tempering its need for a left fielder based on the possibility that Carlos Lee could return to that position. If youngster Brett Wallace wins the first-base job in Spring Training, the Astros will put Lee back in left field for a fifth season. What's more, the Astros have former first-round pick Brian Bogusevic capable of filling that role. Any outfielder the Astros are considering acquiring must have his tools weighed against Bogusevic, Wade said.
"It lends perspective to the conversation because this kid's got plus raw power, plus speed," Wade said. "Obviously, he has a plus arm. It may not make sense for us to do that."
With the tender deadline arriving before the Winter Meetings this year, Wade originally believed the accelerated deadline would have fairly significant ramifications on the Meetings because the complete list of free agents would be available.
"Having seen the [non-tender] list, I probably overstated that," he said. "I do think there are some clubs out there that are interested in making trades now. It doesn't sound like anybody's just operating on a single track. There are teams that we're talking to that have expressed interest in some of our guys and seem to be talking to other clubs on a trade standpoint, but are also talking to agents about free agency."
Even if Houston doesn't pull the trigger on any deals this week, Wade said the work will continue.
"I'm going to be disappointed if we can't get something done, not because of having anxiety to get something done while we're here, but because of the amount of work people have put in," Wade said. "I think everybody's got an expectation that you get to the Winter Meetings and you're supposed to do something.
"We're going to try to make the right decisions, whether it's a decision to make a move while we're here or when we get back to Houston or the first of the year, there are going to be opportunities all the way up to Spring Training to do certain things that could potentially have a very positive effect."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.