The Astros announced that they outrighted catcher J.R. Towles and right-handers Alberto Arias and Jose Valdez to Triple-A Oklahoma City after the trio cleared waivers. The move clears space on Houston’s 40-man roster, which now includes 35 players.
Arias and Valdez can both elect free agency instead of accepting the assignment, while Towles will automatically become a free agent after the World Series.
Arias would have been arbitration eligible, but he spent the 2011 on the season on the disabled list after undergoing shoulder surgery in March. The 27-year-old has a 3.74 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 74 2/3 career innings and hasn't pitched since 2009. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes recently predicted that the Astros would cut him loose.
Towles, 27, was once a highly-regarded prospect, but he has struggled to produce at the plate in parts of five MLB seasons. He has a .187/.267/.315 line in 484 MLB plate appearances since 2007. Valdez appeared in 12 games for the Astros this year, striking out 15 in 14 innings. He also posted a 5.47 ERA with 12.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 24 2/3 minor league innings this year.