Astros: Critical time of the off-season


This is a critical time in the off-season for the Astros relative to personnel. The following deadlines occur or have already occurred that drive decisions by the front office.

  • By November 2, teams had to decide whether to offer their own free agents a qualifying offer, a contract for one year at $17.9 million. In the whole of the majors, only seven players were offered Q.O.’s including Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel, the only Astro offered a Q.O. had 10 days to accept the one-year contract or opt to go into free agency and he opted to become a free agent. The Astros will get a compensatory pick when he signs with another team.
  • By this coming Tuesday, November 20, the Astros must finalize their 40-man roster heading into the Rule 5 draft. Players who have been with the organization a certain amount of time (between four and five years depending on their age when drafted) can be picked by other organizations if they are not on the 40-man roster, but they have to be kept on the major league roster for a whole season. So they will add or subtract minor leaguers by Tuesday based on whether they think they risk losing them.
  • By November 30, the teams need to tender arbitration offers to players they wish to keep who are eligible for arbitration. Those who are non-tendered are free agents.

So, the first question is where are the Astros vs. the 40-man roster. Per the Astros web site, the following players are currently on the 40-man roster.

  1. Gerrit Cole. Arb eligible
  2. Dean Deetz.
  3. Chris Devenski. Arb eligible
  4. Reymin Guduan.
  5. Will Harris. Arb eligible
  6. Josh James.
  7. Francis Martes.
  8. Lance McCullers Jr. Arb eligible
  9. Collin McHugh. Arb eligible
  10. Roberto Osuna. Arb eligible
  11. Brad Peacock. Arb eligible
  12. Cionel Perez.
  13. Ryan Pressly. Arb eligible
  14. Brady Rodgers.
  15. Hector Rondon.
  16. Joe Smith.
  17. Framber Valdez.
  18. Justin Verlander.
  19. Chris Hermann. Arb eligible
  20. Max Stassi.
  21. Jose Altuve.
  22. Alex Bregman.
  23. Carlos Correa. Arb eligible
  24. J.D. Davis.
  25. Yuli Gurriel.
  26. A.J. Reed.
  27. Tyler White.
  28. Derek Fisher.
  29. Tony Kemp.
  30. Jake Marisnick. Arb eligible
  31. Josh Reddick.
  32. George Springer.
  33. Myles Straw.
  34. Kyle Tucker.

This means that the Astros could theoretically add six minor league players to the 40-man roster without making any other move. However, this would not take into account any players added by trade or free agency. On the other side there could be more spots available (eventually) if the Astros are not going to tender all the arbitration-eligible players or if they want to part ways with any of the folks on the roster who may be just taking up space.

Likely actions:

  • It is likely the Astros will add four players or so from their minor league rosters – see the following link to “what the heck bobby” for those eligible to be poached from the minors https://whattheheckbobby.blogspot.com/2018/09/2018-rule-5-draft-primer-and-eligible.html
  • Based on their inclusion on the Arizona Fall league rosters, it would seem that Drew Ferguson, Trent Thornton and Erasmo Pinales would be moved on to the 40-man roster. Due to lack of catchers on the 40-man, Garrett Stubbs should be automatic. If they go beyond adding four, it would seem some of their high-end pitching might be next, such as Cy Sneed, Rogelio Armenteros or Brock Dykxhoorn.
  • If the Astros are looking to move anyone off the 40-man roster by trade or by exposing them to being picked up by others, Brady Rodgers (same age as Cole and Devenski) would be the most at risk.
  • Of the players who might not be offered arbitration, Jake Marisnick, Will Harris and Chris Hermann would seem to be at risk. With what they saw of Myles Straw in a short call-up, Mr. Marisnick would seem to be the most likely to be by-passed.
  • And of course….if the Astros sign FAs or make trades in the early going this could certainly change the dynamics of their decisions.

So, if the Astros add four from their minors, let a Rodgers and a Marisnick go, they will head into the hotter part of the Hot Stove League with four spots open on the 40-man. If they want to add more than four players from outside they will have to expose someone to the Rule 5 draft or possible waiver pickup at a later date or include 40 man player or players in a trade.

What do you think they will do in the next couple days and weeks?

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55 comments on “Astros: Critical time of the off-season

  1. Does anyone know what impact the 60 day disabled list has? Seems that both McCullers and Martes are candidates but does that only kick in once spring training or the regular season commences?

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    • The consensus in the last post comments seemed to be that the 60 day DL people count against the 40 man in the offseason, but don’t count in the regular season. So for the Rule 5 draft they take up a spot.

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    • I guess we’re all waiting for something to happen with the Hot Stove. To be honest I’m not that up on the the info that you have for us. But it is appreciated. I do think you may be right about straw taking Marisnick’s place r maybe can package him in a deal with others for a named player we’ve been discussing.

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    • It is because it is out of the normal position for the current post and the original place on the website doesn’t allow for comments. Dan, this needs fixing. I finally figured out how to comment on this post but it has taken me about 8 hrs to do it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I usually access the post on my phone when I’m out and about – so it was in the right place there – but checking on my computer I found it was in the wrong place – sent an email to Chip a half hour ago

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  2. Dan, there aren’t too many names in our minors that get us excited these days. Looking at the 34 on your current 40 man, I see a bunch of them as expendable: Davis, Reed, Fisher, JFSF, Kemp, Hermann, and Deetz to name a few. That tells me there is a lot of room for Luhnow to try to make moves this offseason, but I’m not sure how many valuable trade chips he has. As such, I’m sure he’s working the phones right now to determine if certain guys with value (Thornton, R Ferrell, Stubbs) might bring someone in a trade before the 40 man must be set. I would expect anyone from my first list is available.

    At this point I’d protect Stubbs given our dearth of catchers. I didn’t have Josh James on my radar last year at this time and his emergence caught be completely by surprise. Hopefully we have a couple more arms like his hidden in the system?

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  3. Dan, don’t be discouraged. I just want to play baseball. I don’t like sitting on the bench. Anyway, here are a batch of guys that I would not be too concerned about if left off or traded. It’s likely at least a couple of these guys will help fill out a trade or two. If we get a catcher, it would likely be a 3 or 4 for one deal.

    Deetz
    Devenski
    Guduan
    Harris
    Martes
    J.D. Davis
    Fisher
    Jake
    A.J. Reed

    Yeah, I expect a few comments. Beat me up.

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    • I have a couple comments – neither extreme
      – Devo was one of the best relievers in 2016 and 2017 considering how many innings he pitched. Now did they finally figure him out in 2018 or was he more injured than he let on – he just seemed to have real pitch location problems last season. If he is a one trick changeup pony and is figured out – then yeah it won’t hurt that bad to lose him, but if he can get back to 2016 and 2017 – then no.
      – When he’s able to pitch again, Martes will only be 24. I say, way too early to give up on a guy who was one of the top prospects before his injury, unless…. after seeing him up close in 2017, they don’t think he has IT.

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      • On Devo, yes, my take is that he’s been figured out. He’s got to come up with something new. Or maybe even just change what he throws when. Good hitters were just sitting on him. And do we have room in the pen for him?

        I like Francis, but he weighs significantly more than the 225 listed. Even when he was throwing well he always looked like he was working a bit too hard on the mound. I might argue that he pitched his most consistent ball at 19 and 20. It’s way too early to know what kind of future he might have, but I think he’s more high risk than some others.

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      • As to Devo, I can remember a little over a year ago, he was pitching to Luis Valbuena of the Angels. Valbuena was sitting fastball, and just fouled off the change up. He did that for several pitches and then when Devo finally threw the fastball, he smashed it. I think that was when the league figured him out. He drastically needs a 3rd pitch.

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    • Guys like Reed, Martes, Fisher and Davis are still league minimum guys anyway, so I don’t see them being let go until they are included in a trade sometime in the future. I think letting Gustave go gave Guduan one more chance.
      I named Rondon, Harris, Herrmann, Marisnick and Devenski as likely non-tender candidates because of their arbitration figures. I’m basing that on my assumption that the Astros are going to do what Boston. Namely, go fill their holes with very capable players like Nunez, Pearce, Martinez and Kinsler.

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      • I consider Rondon a strong candidate for trade, based on what happened with the playoff roster in 2018. My comment from the previous post, which I pasted below has him under the likely-to-be-tendered-or-traded category.

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      • I could see Rondon gone. Let’s not forget his decision to hang back in the dugout during player introductions when left off the roster. Certainly not a Giles type offense, but selfish enough to get a demerit on the report card.

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      • I think Reed, Davis, et al are still on the roster because of J D Martinez. Luhnow will probably go an extra year with a minor leaguer in order to not make the same mistake. I think of them will be 26 this year. That is one kkto two years later than the average MLB player begins his major league career.

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    • Shoot, I’m just glad you are commenting. It’s been lonely here today. I expect to get beat up over my list of players I think the Astros would be considering that I posted below.

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  4. I made this comment hours ago before I could found this new post:
    1oldpro
    November 16, 2018 @ 12:23 pm
    Players I think are non-tender or trade candidates from the Astros:
    Rondon
    Harris
    Herrmann
    Marisnick
    Chris Devenski
    Peacock
    Players I think the Astros would have interest in:
    Realmuto
    Ramos
    Goldschmidt
    A non-tendered Avasail Garcia
    A non-tendered Shelby Miller
    Greinke
    Brantley
    C. Santana
    Andrew Miller
    I left Grandal off of the list because of the draft pick, but that is just my personal opinion based on how much Luhnow seems to love draft picks. If Keuchel signs somewhere else the Astros would then have two draft picks near the end of the second round. That is, if they don’t sign a QO player, which would cost them their first of the two late second-round picks.
    Please note that I’m not saying that the Astros would go after ALL of these guys. Just suggesting that I think they might be interested in a combination of some of them.

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  5. I’m hoping the Astros trade Jake, preferably before the non-tender date. Straw ought to be able to fill his shoes capably in the outfield and while he won’t hit with the same power as Jake he will make a lot more contact. His speed will play well in the field. I’ve not heard much one way or the other regarding his routes and jumps but speed makes up for a multitude of sins. He might just be a sleeper in the power department as well. The one HR he hit in his call up was to center field and I watched him in batting practice at a playoff game hitting bombs over the Crawford boxes. I like that contact seems to be more important to him than power right now.

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  6. Here’s a facet of Rondon’s game in an Astro uniform that I never recollect anyone talking about, especially the experts. And I don’t know how I missed it.

    Home batting against .310 .380 .543 .923
    Away batting against .193 .240 .219 .459

    Home ERA 6.33
    Away ERA 0.56

    Home WHIP 1.815
    Away WHIP 0.906

    That’s the whole season. Remarkable.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. If they trade Marisnick….Luhnow will start crying. He absolutely LOVES Marisnick. I haven’t seen enough of Miles Straw to have an opinion on him.
    Jeter made it pretty clear to our front office, they want Tucker or Whitley for starters, which means they want more than one of our top prospects. Trading a pitcher away would be more than stupid! AND….any guys we leave “out there” especially pitchers WILL be snapped up by the arlington little league.

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  8. Kevin, you won’t find a quote from me blasting a Goldschmidt deal, but it would likely mean that nephew would be leaving town. Thing is though, once the catcher position is addressed, the outfield bat situation is considered (can we assume Tucker is going to respond this year?) and pitching is added, I don’t know if there will be enough gold left over for Goldy.

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  9. On the flip side, maybe Luhnow will revert back to the 2017 type Astro roster. We had a Murderers Row of hitters. Most of those guys are still here, still in their prime, or younger. And they will shake off their off years in 2018. So why don’t we get Cole extended, get Morton signed, assuming he’s healthy, and then spend on bats, and maybe that means George’s bat for the next 5 years too. Wouldn’t that be a heck of a boost ?

    Maybe we use a dozen starters on the way to October. But we’ve got the luxury to do that. Most clubs don’t have the depth of arms. We’ve got guys like Armenteros that would already be starting with another organization. We’ve got Peacock and McHugh and James and Valdez and Whitley on the summer horizon and others too.

    I’m excited about 2019.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Well, who needs a utility player with an above replacement bat and 4 years of control? The Astros do.
    Who needs pitching? Toronto.
    So far, both sides seem happy and both side’s fans seem happy.
    Only the fans who somehow thought Marwin was going to return here seem unhappy.

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  11. -The Twins signed former Astros prospect Randy Cesar to a minor league contract.
    -Luhnow says Yuli Gurriel is very happy about Diaz’s acquisition. Gurriel and Diaz are buddies.
    -Luhnow says multiple teams have inquired about Thornton. He would never have made it through Rule 5. Toronto wanted him.
    -Forest Whitley was brilliant in his final AFL start. 5 innings, no runs, 1 infield single, no walks, 9 strikeouts
    -I think the hot stove heats up Wednesday morning!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the update op – not surprising Cesar was picked up as a minor league FA
      Were they showcasing Thornton in the AFL to get a good offer for him – it is good to get a solid utility guy with power and team control

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      • We will not find out the answer to that question. But, Toronto’s AAA team is Buffalo, NY. So they did not get a lot of chances to see Trent Thornton pitch in Fresno. So the AFL exposure sure didn’t hurt.

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  12. Baseball Reference has incomplete stats on him but he looks more like the SS or 3B for Round Rock. 2018 – 130 games of which 95 at SS and 38 at 3rd. 1 DH. In 3 years in the majors 3 game in OF. Did pinch run 4 times.

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  13. -I find it interesting that White, Kemp, Stassi, Herrmann and Peacock have zero options left and that Reed only has 1 and Davis has 2.
    -Steamer predicted an up season in 2018 for Correa and a down season for the rest of the Astros lineup. Steamer was wrong on Bregman and Correa only, and correct on the rest of the lineup.
    -The Astros finished in second place in the AL in the regular season and the postseason with the best starting pitching staff in baseball. They either need to hope for a Boston WS hangover or they need to improve their lineup and replace some lost pitching. I anticipate they hope for a rebound from some of their core players and that they will be aggressive in filling holes with quality players that they target.
    -If Corbin and Keuchel get the money that I hear being thrown around out there in baseball rumorland, then it is going to be very hard to keep Cole from entering free agency at the end of next season.
    For that reason, I think the Astros will try to find at least one good starter that they can get 2-3 years out of. Maybe even two of them.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. A person knows he is antsy when the Astros are so SLOW in signing someone quickly like they did back in 2016. Actually dates of those transactions:
    McCann trade was November 17, 2016. Reddick was November 23rd and Beltran was December 5th. In my mind they all happened the day after the World Series was over.

    Liked by 1 person

    • By the way, don’t think your Jim Bob Jumpback reference went unnoticed the other day. There are those of us still out here in the wilderness who were raised in the days of Hudson and Harrigan.

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  15. Trent Thornton has been removed from the Astros Top 30 prospects list and Ronnie Dawson has been reinserted at the #20 position., which does lend credence to AFL performances being significant contributors to prestige.

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