This Is 40! Luhnow’s Decision Day for Astros

So, I have MLB Trade Rumors, TCB, Chipalatta and all just a click away on my phone. Oh, and (spit! … for DanP), too. Still, my guess is, Jeff Luhnow’s cell phone will be busier than mine today.

With the 40-man roster decisions needed by the end of today for the Rule 5 draft, today’s a big day. Who makes the 40-man roster, who is left unprotected? Does Jeff Luhnow make a trade to clear some roster space?

It’s a bit of strategy (maybe you leave that AA position player, knowing he’ll never last on a 40-man roster), and a little bit of gambling (that AA pitcher might be a risk, but hopefully that high-A fireballer won’t get snatched and hidden in someone’s bullpen).

As Dan so correctly pointed out, the Astros have two open spaces on that 40-man roster as of late Wednesday night. Luhnow has said the team will wait until the last minute to finalize its 40-man roster.

So, how does the Rule 5 draft work? Well, generally, players who were 18 or younger on the June 5 preceding their signing and this is the fifth Rule 5 draft upcoming; or were 19 or older on the June 5 preceding their signing and this is fourth Rule 5 draft upcoming are eligible. According to Brian McTaggart, here’s the list — the LONG list — of Astros minor leaguers available. The players in bold type are ones who have played at AA or higher.

Right-handersRuben Alaniz, Agapito Barrios, Jamain Cotton, Chris Devenski, Jonas Dufek, Michael Feliz, Edison Frias, Jandel Gustave, Angel Heredia, Krishawn Holley, Juan Minaya, Jose Montero, Tyson Perez, Francis Ramirez, Richard Rodriguez, Jason Stoffel, Fredrick Tiburcio, Vincent Velasquez, Andrew Walter, Kyle Weiland

Left-handersColton Cain, Ambiorix De Leon, Evan Grills, Reymin Guduan, Mitchell Lambson, David Rollins, Tommy Shirley, Blaine Sims.

InfieldersDelino Deshields Jr., Matt Duffy, Jose Fernandez, Alex Gonzalez, Jonathan Meyer, Jiovanni Mier, Chad Moon, Jose Solano, Ruben Sosa, Ronald Torreyes

OutfieldersYdarqui Marte, Jorge Martinez, Brandon Meredith, Telvin Nash, Ariel Ovando, Jordan Scott, Danry Vasquez.

CatchersJobduan Morales, Robert Pena.

So, who is a likely target? Well, Jason Stoffel, Vincent Velasquez, Kyle Weiland, Mitchell Lambson, Tommy Shirley, DDJ, Matt Duffy and Ronald Torreyes top my list. Your mileage may vary. And that’s fine, because this — and here’s where it’s got to gall Luhnow — is more art than science.

So, how will this work as the day goes on? Well, Houston will need to finalize it’s 40-man roster a minute before midnight eastern time. The draft will take place on Dec. 11. If Houston loses a player to the draft, it can protect another who was exposed.

Traditionally, pitchers are most often taken. But the Astros have a couple of position players who could hide on a roster, including DDJ, Torreyes and maybe Matt Duffy. Oh, and that doesn’t even count the pitchers Houston has on hand.

So, here are the questions:

What players on the 40-man roster and on the above list should be packaged as part of a roster-clearing deal?

Of the players listed above, who is the most likely to get snatched?

Who can be left unprotected?

Luhnow gets a LOT of credit for building a farm system. What will you think of his farm system if he lets it get picked over by the Rule 5 vultures?

48 comments on “This Is 40! Luhnow’s Decision Day for Astros

  1. Very nicely done, Brian T – you really laid it out there and gave us a lot of the info we will need to make our wild a$$ guesses.
    If a trade can’t be done to clear a spot – another choice would be to basically move some players off of the 40 man – here is a reminder of the 38 guys on the 40 man from the last few days with my shot at ranking them.
    OK – here are Dan’s thoughts – not to be used for betting purposes:
    – 4 catchers on the 40 man kind of sticks out – you have to think that Castro or Corporan or Stassi are possibilities to get traded – they could also take a chance and expose Corporan or Stassi.
    – I keep thinking about Fowler’s big paycheck and his inability to play a full season – I’m not pushing for this – but they certainly could get something for him in a trade and open up more room under the $20 million increase scenario.
    – Other folks they could expose without that much risk (it seems to me) would be Gregorio Petit, Darin Downs and Alex White.
    – Minor leaguers they would like to protect in no particular order – Feliz, Gustave, Velasquez, Lambson, Shirley, DeShields Jr, Torreyes and Danry Vasquez. I think they may protect about 4 of these – though someone like DDJr might end up packaged.
    – Key to a trade is that all the teams are trying to do the same thing. Have to find the team that is willing to take on more 40 man roster types than it gives away.


  2. For what its worth, as of this morning this is how many players each team shows on their 40 man. I would think it would give some idea who you might be able to trade with and send more 40 man people that way than take on and those who are not likely to take anyone on….
    34 – Phil
    35 – Balt, KC, Clev, Sea, NYM
    36 – NYY, Bos, Min, Mia, StL, Mil
    37 – CHW, LAD, SFG, Ari
    38 – TB, Det, Oak, Hou, Wash, Pitt, Cinn, CHC
    39 – Tor
    40 – LAA, Atl, Tex, SDP, Col


    • That is timely and pertinent information, Dan. It is very hard to focus right now because of very important family stuff going on. The Astros are absolutely my escape and because I am having trouble focusing, you made the overall picture clearer. TY
      Adding a little to my post below, I would not be surprised if a name surfacing a lot in trade talks with the Astros is Tony Kemp. Gold Glove, good offense, good speed, very versatile and surprising power.
      Power, you ask? You see the four HR’s in Lancaster and say “that’s Lancaster”, but then the four HR’s in CC stops you in your tracks and you wonder about a little 2B hitting 8 HRs to go with all the other stuff.


  3. Wow, Dan, we should have written this together. Unfortunately, I started on it after 10 pm last night

    I think I’d consider moving Hoes and Villar off the 40-man as well. Both would present problems to keep on a 25-man roster all season.

    I think any team with 38 or more spots filled is unlikely to pick anyone. Philly, though, looks prepared to do some bargain shopping. And we need to realize only a handful of guys are picked. Every other team will have exposed players, so it really is all about odds and strategy.


  4. To make a trade you have to give up a player that someone sees value in. From the roster that would be catchers and high prospects.
    DDJ, Velasquez, Feliz and Folty are high ranked prospects so they have to be protected or traded, they absolutely can’t be carcasses for buzzards.
    You had Kraus and Hoes in the dugout all year and we have seen them and so have the other teams. I don’t see protecting them. I see the team hoping someone takes Hoes.
    Vasquez is not a top 20 prospect and he is very young and had just a decent year in high A. I cannot see protecting him because I can’t see a team risking a roster spot all year for him.
    I see Torreyes and the catchers being trade possibilities.
    The one guy I really don’t like leaving off the 40-man is Tommy Shirley. I could see a team taking a chance on him in their bullpen.
    Perhaps the best way to gauge who to protect is to have had trade discussions with other teams about players. That is a way to get a grip on their value in the market.


  5. Unless the Astros are worried about the “image” of another Johan Santana II – there is no one on this list nor the bottom 6-10 of the Dan-O-Graph of yesterday that will do any permanent harm. I for one am tired of Houston taking a hit on Santana. He did nothing spectacular for the Astros nor for 2-3 years in Minnesota. Rule 5 is a crap shoot both for protecting and selecting. It makes good press in the off season but has little to no long term effect on either team. That being said, the brain trust needs to protect as many of the key future assets as possible, starting with the pitchers. (One article has in the top 10 of best steals of all time – Nate Freiman. Yep THAT Nate Freiman. Who Houston lost on waivers and this year put up .214/.269/.448 in 36 games)


  6. Deshields, Torreyes, Shirley, Lambson, Velasquez, Feliz, and Stoffel are the guys I want to protect. The guys I remove from the forty man are Krauss, Hoes, Bass, Downs, and probably Zeid. However, I fully expect JL and his computer disagree.

    My fear is that we know certain players aren’t very good, but many guys we have tried to use as replacement players have brought vastly negative contributions to town. We had no positional depth at 1B, 3B, RP, or DH last year.


    • It actually crossed the wire on 11/11. I discounted it as not a newsworthy event because no one was covering it. Can you share some tidbits about why it’s so interesting?


      • Devin, I think you and I just got punked. Becky has a mean streak in her. However, he might be of value but will have to go on the 40 man before he turns 15. 🙂


    • I think it’s interesting because they already have lots of young pitchers in their system and they probably have identified some who aren’t going to make it. This kid might have potential as a reliever, especially if he happens to have a live fastball and one promising second pitch.
      It’s obvious they gave him a tryout and someone of importance liked what they saw.
      I don’t forget Brunneman, the MVP out of nowhere of the Lancaster Championship run.


  7. Devin_ http://www.astrosdaily has the info you are looking for. He’s got an unbelievable
    era! He looks like he’s 10yrs. old. The story is on the right side of the page. I would never have seen it, but the twitter links, about the team are pretty interesting!


    • I know he had surgery in August – you are probably right.
      The Tigers taking Zeid meant he made it through most of the teams before he was picked off since they had a good record last season.


  8. So – latest count is that they are back to 38 on the 40 man. Would it be a good guess that they will fill the two spots with a couple pitchers since they lost Zeid and outrighted Bass? Feliz and Shirley? Lambson? Or maybe DDJ gets some love?
    Or a trade does occur?


    • I just can’t see them not protecting Feliz or DDJ. One is a top 10 and the other is #12. Who let’s someone take a top 12 prospect or higher for nothing. They either have to trade them or protect them. Neither one of them is old enough to have failed yet.


  9. I’m going to stay up and see what happens after the dead line tonight!
    I’d hate to be a Congressman in Washington tonight………..I’m a republican
    and my husband is a democrat. It get’s REAL interesting around here every
    now and then. Tonight is one of those “interesting” moments……

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I cannot imagine DeShields being placed on the 40 man. Is there a team that would give a 25 man spot to a kid who hit .236 in AA? If he is left unprotected and claimed I would bet we would get him back. He has failed to impress and if he didn’t have the pedigree I doubt we would even be mentioning him.


    • I don’t think it is that simple drbill.
      – He scored 113 runs and stole 101 bases in 135 games
      – Then he scored 100 runs and stole 51 bases in 111 games
      – Then he scored 75 runs and stole 54 bases in 114 games
      He has followed up down years with very strong years repeating at the same level.
      He supposedly has attitude problems
      He is only 22 – but has been around baseball long enough through his father and 5 years in the minors – that he should be more of a professional and less of a diva.
      You can’t teach speed and speed was huge to the KC Royals run this season.
      I don’t think the decision is cut and dried.


    • It’s situational that a team would take a chance on him. He’s the kind of player you want on your October roster. Offense is down across the league and perceptions are shifting.

      The Astros had eleven players with at least 100 at bats who hit lower than .236 last season. The World Champion SF Giants had 4 such players.

      DeShields had a .346 OBP last season at AA. The Astros had two players with at least 100 at bats who had as high of an OBP (Altuve and Fowler).

      Yes, I know he would be unlikely to post the same numbers at the big league level, but it’s not unreasonable to think with another year or two under his belt he provides great speed and a very good OBP. What team wouldn’t want that?


      • And that’s the point, “in another year or two”. I don’t think he shows the compelling talent or makeup to get a 25 man roster spot for an entire year. Being on a major league roster would probably stifle his development as his playing time would be severely limited. How many teams can afford to give a roster spot to a pinch runner?


      • You likely have the same assessment as Luhnow. I agree he is probably not going to contribute to a winner in 2015, but the only reason I could see a team like Philly or Minn passing on him would be because they found another player more attractive.


  11. Well, it’s after 11 o’clock and the Astros added Feliz to the roster after a trade fell through. Looks like DDJ is not protected. Of course, anyone can still be traded at any time so things might still happen.
    What’s happened to DDJ? Preston Tucker, Tony Kemp, Teoscar Hernandez, Brett Phillips and Derek Fischer happened!


  12. I am relieved they put Feliz on the 40-man roster. It is easier to keep a pitcher on your major league roster for one year than it is to keep a hitter that isn’t producing. I can live with losing DDJ, but would be fine if we keep him as well. Feliz looks to be a future stud in the majors and I could have seen a team taking him and putting him in the bullpen this year, especially if the team has no playoff hopes.


  13. Can anyone explain or check me out on this? Using Michael Feliz as an example, he can be “optioned to the minors” off the 25 man but still on the 40 man for next 3 years. But if the Astros attempt to “out right him” (Example: Anthony Bass) he would be subject to waivers. So Feliz has 3 years to stick with the major league team or he is wasting a spot right now. Am I close?


    • I’m not 100% on all of it, but my understanding is that they have three years of options once he is called up. If he becomes arb eligible, like Bass is, he has to clear waivers to go back down. In Zeid’s case, he was put on waivers and claimed because they wanted him off the 40-man, and, thus had to clear waivers. Zeid gave the cordial thankyous to the Astros, but that comment about being with a team that really wants him(Tigers) was undoubtedly an arrow slung at the Astros.
      Of course we now have Luhnow-Acquired Marc Kraus on the team and Non-Luhnow DDJ available to all takers in a couple of weeks.
      I could not help but notice that we could not pull off any decent trades or pick up any good free agents yet.


  14. I’m a little surprised Tommy Shirley was left unprotected. He seems MLB ready, or very close to it. If I’m a team that doesn’t plan to contend, I’d grab him. Heck, if I’ve just got a bad bullpen (Detroit) I’d take a flier on him.


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