Astros Winter Meetings checklist

Astros Winter Meetings checklist

This year's Winter Meetings in Orlando begin on Monday, Dec. 4 and end on Thursday, Dec. 7. The Astros have not been active during the annual meetings in the last couple of years, but that could change this time as the club continues its pursuit of pitching help.

Having already locked up his No. 1 offseason priority, Carlos Lee, in addition to signing right-hander Woody Williams, GM Tim Purpura turns his attention to the trade market, where he'll look for more starting pitching and possibly a left-handed reliever.

And be sure to check back at and regularly to find out the latest about the Astros as we bring you the news as it happens from Orlando.

2006 finish: 82-80, 2nd place, NL Central

Deals so far: Signed OF Carlos Lee to a six-year contract and RHP Woody Williams to a two-year contract.

Players eligible for arbitration: RHPs Dan Wheeler, Brad Lidge, Brandon Backe, Dave Borkowski; IF Adam Everett, Morgan Ensberg, Mike Lamb, Eric Bruntlett; OF Jason Lane

Free agents: Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Russ Springer, Aubrey Huff

Needs: A starting pitcher and a left-handed reliever. If Clemens and Pettitte go elsewhere or retire, Williams becomes the No. 2 pitcher and the Astros could be in trouble. They need at least one more horse who can log 200 innings and win somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 games, which would push Williams to No. 3 and Jason Hirsh to No. 4.

Because of the lucrative dollars all free agents are commanding this offseason, the Astros will likely seek that pitcher via trade.

The Astros would like to add a lefty in the bullpen to complement Trever Miller, but they're prepared to stick with just one southpaw, especially with the escalating salaries relievers are receiving this winter.

Dealing strengths: The Astros have only one blue chip position player, outfielder Hunter Pence, who will likely not be available as trade bait. Still, organizations continue to express interest in the Astros' young pitchers, including Taylor Buchholz, Fernando Nieve and Hirsh.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.