Barmes longshot to return to Houston

Veteran infielder Clint Barmes, who filled a void at shortstop for the Astros last season, is unlikely to return to Houston. The Astros would like to have him back and Barmes isn’t averse to returning, but Houston is rebuilding and isn’t prepared to take on a larger salary as it awaits a transfer of ownership.

“I talked to his agent a couple of weeks ago and told him we would really like to have him here, but I just don’t know if it’s going to work in our situation,” Astros general manager Ed Wade said.

Barry Meister, who represents Barmes, understands the Astros will have to wait until the ownership issues gets resolved before making a run at free agents.

“I had talked to the Astros before free agency started and they indicated, as we all know, they have some issues they have to deal,” Meister said. “Ed and I have a good relationship, but there are issues of ownership.”

The Astros have until Nov. 23 to decide if they’re going to offer salary arbitration to Barmes, who’s a Type B free agent. He would have to sign with another team before Nov. 23 or reject the Astros’ offer of arbitration in order for the Astros to get a compensatory pick in next year’s First-Year Player Draft. He has until Dec. 7 to accept or reject arbitration.

Barmes, who was traded to the Astros a year ago and made $3.92 million this year, will have no shortage of suitors, Meister said.

“I think there’s going to be a significant market for him,” he said. “He’s not averse to coming back to Houston, but when they’re ready to talk about that, we’re ready to so the same.”

Barmes hit .244 with 12 homers and 39 RBIs last season with the Astros after missing the first few weeks with a broken hand suffered in Spring Training.

Brian McTaggart

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