By Dan Peschong
Back in November of 1997, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Arizona D’Backs paid a gazillion bucks to be split among the existing owner gazillionaires and this bought them the “honor” of drafting from the residue of the existing NL teams.
From a Houston Astros perspective this will always be remembered as the time when they lost Bobby Abreu – a guy who last played in 2012 and finished with excellent career numbers .292 BA/.396 OBP/ .873 OPS – more than 1400 runs scored, more than 1300 runs knocked in, more that 2400 hits and one short of 400 SBs. Ouch – though truth to tell Tampa thought so highly of Abreu that they
traded him the same day to the Phillies for Kevin Stocker. So they have an Ouchie too.
But the exercise I have laid out here is – following basically the same rules as in 1997 – who would The 2014 Astros protect? Waddling through rule by rule – I kept flopping back and forth on how impossible or possible this would be.
Rule 1 – For the first round you can only protect 15 players from the whole organization – minors/majors – they are all exposed. Oh no – how are we going to protect all those great young players we have traded for and drafted?
Rule 2 – OK – not the whole organization. Any player drafted in the last two mlb drafts is exempt – which would include Mark Appel, Andrew Thurman, Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers Jr., Rio Ruiz, Nolan Fontana, Brady Rodgers, Andrew Aplin, Tyler Heineman, Preston Tucker, Josh Hader and Joe Sclafani. So that is good news.
Rule 4 – The last expansion draft was held in November not during spring training and exempted all players who were free agents after the previous season. If we follow the spirit of that rule –we would exempt folks like Scott Feldman, Jerome Williams, Jesse Crain, Chad Qualls and Matt Albers.
The expansion draft that season was three rounds long. No team could lose more than 1 player per round and all teams could protect three more players before the next round began.
So the following is my best shot at who I would protect if another expansion draft occurred today and would love to see your set of protections and any comments on my list. And if anyone wants to take a shot at who the Astros would lose in each round and which three additional they would protect… knock yourselves out.
Dan’ s Protection List
40 Man Roster Protections
1) Jason Castro – Clearly the Astros best offensive player last season at a normally weak offensive position.
2) Chris Carter – Yes, he was a K-meister with 221 strikeouts and struggled with a .221 BA and a .320 OBP – but he also launched 29 dingers and had 82 RBIs in a lineup where folks in front of him did not get on base and folks behind him provided no protection – so I’m protecting him here.
3) Jose Altuve – Even after a 2013 season where he regressed quite a bit – the young (not yet 24) middle infielder with a reasonable contract going forward would get snapped up in a heartbeat, if exposed.
4) Jarred Cosart – Even though Cosart’s mlb ERA was way below what it should have been based on his other peripherals (e.g. his walks/hits etc should have resulted in a 4.00 ERA but ended up below 2.00) – he would be extremely attractive if left unprotected.
5) Brett Oberholtzer – Not sure if Brett O would be on this list except for his strong showing in 10 games late last season. He did not have quite the pedigree that Cosart had when called up – but the lefty probably made himself a target with his performance.
6) Jonathan Singleton – Singleton would be a fascinating test for the expansion draft – has he scared anyone away with his problems – how do they react to his honesty about his addictive behavior? After seeing him try to hit 600 foot home runs over the weekend and coming up empty – you can see lots of upside with this guy when he learns to relax and hit within himself.
7) Domingo Santana – Even with some fall-off in stats last season – he is 6′-5″ 230 lb and as one of the youngest players at AA ball (20 yrs old) he launched 25 HRs and had an OPS over .840. He would be scooped up quickly.
8) Dexter Fowler – He might be worth exposing because his salary might scare a team away, but after trading two assests (Lyles and Barnes) for him I doubt the Astros want to lose him for no compensation.
9) Max Stassi – Young catcher with good power and solid numbers throwing out the opposition – they will protect him.
10) Matt Dominguez – If he had hit in the second half of 2013 like he hit in the first half – they would not protect him. But he has a good glove and showed an improving bat so they will hold onto Matty D.
11) Asher Wojciechowski – This is based on an uninjured Wojalphabet – his good numbers as he has moved steadily up the minors would make him a high candidate for protection.
Prospects (not yet on the 40 man)
12) Michael Foltynewicz – This former 1st rounder may be a bigger jewel than fellow first rounder Springer. After starting off strong at “death to pitchers” Lancaster – he was brilliant at Corpus in 2013. Exposed he would be gone in this draft.
13) Delino Deshields Jr – Yes, he dropped out of the top 10 prospects list….But he put up great numbers as a 20 yr old last season -100 Runs, 51 SBs, .317 BA, .873 OPS are going to attract attention.
14) George Springer – No brainer right?
15) Vince Velasquez – Picked in the 2nd round after Folty in 2010, missing the 2011 season slowed him slightly – but has put up very good numbers including 10+ K/ 9 IP since.
OK – those are my protections, which do not cover Josh Fields, L.J. Hoes, Preston Tucker, Nick Tropeano, Dallas Keuchel, Jake Buchanan, Kevin Chapman, Rudy Owens, Brad Peacock, Kyle Smith, Teoscar Hernandez and others.
So – correct me on my picks and/or pick your own.