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Astros in holding pattern, but move could be near

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The first two days of the Winter Meetings have been rather quiet for the Astros, but general manager Jeff Luhnow hinted Tuesday afternoon that could soon change.

In his daily briefing with reporters from the team's suite at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center, Luhnow said the Astros could acquire a player by the end of the Meetings. He didn't say whether it would via a trade or free-agent signing.

"There's a good chance there will be something to report as soon as tomorrow," Luhnow said. "We'd like to come out of here with two pieces of news, in addition [to Thursday's] Rule 5 [Draft]."

The Astros are in the market for a designated hitter, some starting pitching and outfield depth, but Luhnow cautioned things could change quickly. Houston has spoken with about half of the teams during his stay in the Music City and had six or seven meetings Tuesday with agents or teams exploring trade partners.

"We're acting as if stuff might happen," he said. "I've been in this situation before where you have five things that all look like they're going to happen and none of them happens. And sometimes two or three of them happen. We're working hard to make the right decision for the club."

Luhnow acknowledged starting pitcher Bud Norris, who's due for a huge raise as a first-time arbitration-eligible player, is garnering interest from other teams. He didn't say if the club would be willing to move Norris. The Astros nearly sent reliever Wilton Lopez to the Phillies last week before the deal fell apart.

"There's a lot of teams seeking pitching and Bud is a good pitcher," he said. "There is interest."

One named that surfaced in the team's pursuit of a veteran designated hitter was Hideki Matsui. Manager Bo Porter said the club had talked about Matsui, and Luhnow was later asked specifically about the team's interest in him.

"It's one of many names," he said.

The pursuit of a DH, of course, is designed to increase the Astros' run production, but Luhnow said it would be a bonus if he could get a player who could also play first base or left field and have the ability to platoon. Veteran leadership would be another bonus.

"We're not going to sacrifice the run production to get those other things," he said. "That's really what we feel like we need most out of that spot in the lineup."

Luhnow said much of the team's work in the first two days of the Meetings has been laying the groundwork in person to understand the timeline and the opportunities players are seeking.

"At this point, we think we've at least touched base with all of the agents of all of the players that we think could possibly come to an agreement within the next couple of weeks, and we feel good that we have expressed interested and we understand more or less what the parameters are and are working on figuring out how we can put our best foot forward and how quickly these players might sign," he said.

Porter said J.D. Martinez and Brett Wallace are internal options if the Astros aren't able to land a designated hitter, which now seems unlikely.

"When you look at the free-agent market, you look at it from an offensive standpoint where our team was at last year and the available players that are out there," he said. "There are some players that are out there that would actually improve our ballclub, and we've pretty much made contact with a lot of those guys, and we're going to find out which players actually fit best for the Houston Astros."