The Astros paid approximately $26 million to players in 2013, including signing bonuses. The highest-paid player by Houston didn't even play for the team. The Astros paid $5 million of Pirates pitcher Wandy Rodriguez's salary as part of the trade that sent him to Pittsburgh.
The team has very little additional payroll being added on from their own players. Erik Bedard--the highest paid player who actually played for the team--will be a free agent, and no other player made more than $1 million in 2013. They will have three players eligible for arbitration for the first time, but none will receive a large salary.
In fact, the Astros have $7 million under contract for 2014, including $5.5 million to be paid to Rodriguez. That does not include every player who remains in team control and does not have a guaranteed contract, but there is certainly a lot of room for Houston to sign a few free agents.
Owner Jim Crane has previously said that payroll would rise next year, but he did not say how much. It could rise even higher than $60 million if the team's disagreement with Comcast is settled, Crane says.
Comcast has filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition that could terminate the agreement between the Astros and their television broadcaster, Houston Regional Sports Network. The Astros are hoping to get Comcast's claim dismissed.