A.J. Hinch says he’s narrowing down his roster. Pitchers are falling like flies to Tommy John. Spring training is about half over. Other teams are apparently looking on at the so-called glut of players in the Astros’ infield and outfield.
What gives? Nothing yet. But there are a handful of players who could be either expendable or useful elsewhere as the season begins in a few weeks.
Given the rash of injuries, the Astros might best stockpile as many parts as possible using the options and roster spots to their advantage. In the case of pitchers, that might mean starting Brad Peacock on the DL, giving optionable players (e.g. Asher Wojciechowski, Dan Straily) at Fresno and handing the #5 starter job to Roberto Hernandez to start the season.
In the case of your 1B/DH trio, if Jonathan Singleton continues to hit, plant him at first base, and rotate Chris Carter and Evan Gattis between DH and LF. Not optimal, but buys some time to start the season.
Frankly, neither of those may actually happen. Here are the players most likely to be moved through trade before opening day.
Yes, his $4.175 million salary could be a factor in determining him as the odd man out. If Singleton sticks at 1B, Carter could bring back a significant bounty of players. Yes, players, plural. That would leave the Astros with plenty of room in the outfield to shuffle George Springer, Colby Rasmus, Jake Marisnick and others.
Because of his special status, the Astros will need to add him to the roster five days before spring training ends. Or release him. With the injury bug running around the majors, Hernandez’ stock will go up if he pitches well in the spring. Hernandez in Houston and Wojo, Peacock and Straily in Frenso to start the season provides depth. If he makes the team as the fifth starter, he can hold down the fort until one of the others returns and it provides further organizational depth in case one of the first four is injured. Best long-term move? Maybe not. Best short-term insurance. Yes.
Jake Marisnick/Robbie Grossman.
Yes, these guys do have some upside. They are not necessarily the entire package, but they will bring value to some teams either as a stop gap or replacement for a late spring injury. If Carter, Singleton and Gattis are all on the roster opening day, it’s possible both Marisnick and Grossman start the season in Fresno if they aren’t traded.
Could the Astros simply sell high? With Joe Thatcher and Kevin Chapman available (they’ve both pitched in four games thus far), could the Astros capitalize on Sipp’s best season and try to get a return? Possible, since lefties are always desirable. Likely? Probably not, since lefties are always desirable. Even in Houston.
You’ll note the Astros sent him packing to Fresno in the first group of cuts. No sense in letting him languish with the big club since it’s obvious he hasn’t made headway since his brief 2014 call up. Luhnow said he still believes in Santana, but you have to wonder if he won’t be playing in someone else’s park come April. Especially since he has what could be a valuable 40-man roster spot.
Many wonder why Presley is on the roster already. However, he obviously has value and would fit nicely as a #4 or #5 for some teams. Package him with another surplus (e.g. Santana, Hernandez, Matt Dominguez) and your return could be anywhere from low minors to AAA spare parts of another team.
While the Astros may shuffle the roster somewhat, it will probably not be a necessity unless a trade is made or the team acquires someone off waivers in the coming days or weeks. Only a couple of non roster invitees (Hernandez, Joe Thatcher) may warrant adding to the roster. Others are already ticketed — or will soon be — for other teams or the waiver wire.