"He's a right-handed hitter and [Brett] Wallace is a left-handed hitter," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "They can platoon at first or one can win the job with a good spring."
With Chris Carter slotted in as the full-time designated hitter, Luhnow sought out another bat to add to the equation. Noting Guzman's success at the Major League level and decent numbers at pitcher-friendly Petco Park, he envisions Minute Maid Park working in Guzman's favor.
"He has a chance to have an impact," Luhnow said. "He should get plenty of at-bats."
Guzman played in 126 games for the Padres in 2013, collecting 17 doubles, nine home runs and 35 RBIs while batting .226. He started at four different positions, including 33 games at first base, 25 in left field, three in right field and two at third base. He was especially effective as a pinch-hitter, hitting three home runs and leading the Majors with 14 RBIs in that role.
He owns a career batting average of .259 with 23 homers and 127 RBIs. Against lefties, he has a career average of .286 and a .358 on-base percentage.
Talks with the Padres began soon after the Astros claimed Jackson off waivers from the Cardinals a month ago. The Padres had put a claim on him at that time, too, but the Astros, with first dibs on the waiver wire, nabbed him.
Guzman had become somewhat expendable after the Padres acquired outfielder Seth Smith recently in the deal that sent reliever Luke Gregerson to the A's, paving the way for the Astros and Padres to strike a deal.
"It's something we've been talking about ever since we claimed [Jackson]," Luhnow said. "With Marwin [Gonzalez] and some of the others, we have we felt like we could make Ryan available. It looks like a win-win trade on both sides."
The Astros have made several deals this winter, using the free agent and trade markets to shore up their pitching and add role players to the lineup. This is in stark contrast from one year ago, when their focus was on stockpiling the farm system and shedding millions from their Major League payroll.
Needless to say, this winter has been infinitely more enjoyable for the front office.
"It's been a lot more fun than last offseason," Luhnow said, adding that there may be more deals coming as they continue to utilize an "opportunistic" strategy. "It's fun to go shopping."