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Astros change course on 'pen options

Astros change course on 'pen options

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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Astros' search for help at the back end of the bullpen continued Wednesday after free-agent relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins agreed to a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, and it could lead them to Florida reliever Matt Lindstrom.

Hawkins, who went 1-4 with 11 saves and a 2.13 ERA with Houston this past season, signed a two-year, $7.5-million deal to join division rival Milwaukee, which would be his eighth Major League stop. The Astros renewed their pursuit of Hawkins at the Winter Meetings after closer Jose Valverde denied their offer of arbitration late Monday.

Astros general manager Ed Wade said earlier that the club had talked with Hawkins' agent, Larry Reynolds, earlier Wednesday and was hopeful he would return to Houston. Hawkins, who wasn't offered arbitration by the Astros, arrived in Indianapolis on Tuesday to help broker a deal for 2010.

The Astros are believed to be interested in trading for Atlanta reliever Rafael Soriano, and the Palm Beach Post reported Wednesday the Marlins and the Astros are close to deal a send hard-throwing Lindstrom to Houston.

Soriano accepted arbitration from the Braves, who are trying to deal him. He could make as much as $7.5 millions in arbitration, which may be too pricey for the Astros. Lindstrom would be a much cheaper option and probably wouldn't be the Astros' only addition to the bullpen.

Lindstrom, 29, went 2-1 with a 5.89 ERA and 15 saves last season for the Marlins in 2009 and is 8-8 with a 3.88 ERA and 20 saves over three years in the Majors. His fastball has been clocked as high as 102 mph.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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