Houston Astros Rumors

Houston Astros trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Heyman’s Latest: Howard, Tillman, Price, Cespedes, Astros

In his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off by discussing Ryan Howard‘s increased trade value. Howard is hitting .256/.298/.519 with 10 homers this season, and while the OBP is lackluster, he’s performed particularly well of late, hitting .307/.340/.602 with six homers this month (a .389 BABIP on the month, though, is heavily influencing those numbers). The Phils were willing to pay down $35MM or so of Howard’s remaining contract this offseason, and doing so would make him a roughly $10MM player this season and next. While Heyman notes that might be seen as a fair price, he adds that some scouts and executives will want to see more sustained production before considering a move, which strikes me as more than reasonable; I doubt three weeks of hot hitting have transformed him from albatross into hot commodity. The Orioles, Royals and Rays all discussed Howard with the Phillies this offseason but went different directions, and Heyman looks at those three teams as well as five others in determining if there’s a fit to be made. Howard received 10-and-5 rights on May 2, however, allowing him to veto any deal. And while many reports have indicated it won’t get in the way of a trade, Heyman hears that Howard is happier in Philadelphia now than he was over the winter and wonders if he might require some kind of incentive to waive those rights.

Some more highlights from a lengthy column …

  • The Orioles never really came close to reaching an extension with starter Chris Tillman this spring, and talks are on hold at present. The 27-year-old has scuffled early this year with a 5.59 ERA over 48 1/3 innings.
  • David Robertson could have taken home even more than the $46MM promised to him by the White Sox, says Heyman, as an unnamed team offered him more this winter. That provides yet more reason to believe that plenty of teams are still willing to pay top dollar for premium relievers.
  • While the Tigers are very interested in attempting to retain Yoenis Cespedes beyond the current year, Heyman says that all signs point to him reaching free agency. Detroit can, of course, pursue him on the open market, but sources tell Heyman that Cespedes is unlikely to agree to an extension.
  • Likewise, the Tigers don’t appear to have much hope of an extension with ace David Price, and Heyman says they “aren’t overwhelmingly confident” that he’ll be back. Detroit’s front office believes that Price will look to top Max Scherzer‘s contract. 
  • The Astros are sorting through many pitching acquisition possibilities, and Aaron Harang of the Phillies has “at least been discussed” by the club. Fellow Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels may come with too much contract for Houston, but Heyman reports that the club does see Reds free agent-to-be Johnny Cueto as a possibility.
  • While Brewers GM Doug Melvin has given signals that he’s ready to sell early, owner Mark Attanasio may prefer the club hold off until at least the upcoming draft. While PR considerations seem to be a factor, that may be the best strategy anyway; the team could still get out ahead of the market, while allowing it to mature somewhat before acting.
  • Be sure to check out the piece for more interesting items around the league.

Scott Feldman To Miss Six Weeks Following Knee Surgery

Astros right-hander Scott Feldman will be out for “approximately six weeks” following arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus in his right knee, the team announced on Friday. The 32-year-old injured his knee while fielding a grounder in his most recent start. Right-hander Michael Feliz, one of the organization’s most highly regarded pitching prospects, has been promoted from Double-A to take Feldman’s spot on the roster.

Rotation depth was already an area that many expect the Astros to address on the trade market this summer, based on previous comments from GM Jeff Luhnow and from some struggles at the back end of the rotation. While a glance at Feldman’s ERA might not inspire much confidence, he’s pitched significantly better since a disastrous second start of the season. Overall, he has worked to a 4.47 ERA (3.42 FIP, 3.62 xFIP) in 48 1/3 innings over a stretch of eight starts.

Feldman has served as a nice veteran complement to the less experienced Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh. To this point in the season, Keuchel has looked the part of a bona fide ace yet again. And while McHugh hasn’t repeated last season’s breakout numbers, he’s enjoyed solid peripheral stats and is still sporting a relatively serviceable 4.24 ERA.

The question for the Astros is who will fill in the rotation behind Keuchel, McHugh and Feldman. So far, Roberto Hernandez has soaked up 54 2/3 innings, though he’s done so with a 4.77 ERA and peripherals that suggest he’ll continue to produce at that clip. Lance McCullers has stepped into the rotation and impressed over a pair of starts, but he’s largely unproven and hasn’t thrown more than 104 innings in a pro season since being selected 41st overall back in 2012. The Astros have also cycled through Asher Wojciechowski, Sam Deduno, Brad Peacock and Brett Oberholtzer at the back of the rotation with little success to show. (The latter three of that quartet are now each on the disabled list, as well.)

A wide variety of pitching options figures to be available this summer, if the Astros elect to go that route. Cole Hamels represents a long-term, top-of-the-rotation option, whereas teammate Aaron Harang would be a reliable, low-cost rental. Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza‘s names have both been mentioned as trade candidates as well, although neither veteran is performing at the moment. Scott Kazmir and Johnny Cueto represent potentially more impactful rental players that would, of course, come with a higher price tag, in terms of prospects.


Minor Moves: Todd Redmond, Yoanis Quiala, Dan Black

Here are Friday’s minor moves from around baseball…

  • The Blue Jays announced that right-hander Todd Redmond has cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A Buffalo. Redmond was designated for assignment a week ago and will have the option to reject the assignment in favor of free agency. He pitched well in more than 70 innings for the Jays in both the 2013 and 2014 seasons, but he’s struggled in 2015, yielding 11 runs in 8 1/3 innings of work thus far.
  • The Astros and Cuban right-hander Yoanis Quiala have agreed to terms on a minor league contract, reports Scout.com’s Max Wildstein. Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets that the Astros view Quiala as a starting pitcher, though he did work mostly in relief in his lone pro season in Cuba. The 22-year-old Quiala made 16 appearances (nine in relief, seven from the rotation) in the 2012-13 season in Cuba, totaling 52 2/3 innings with a 2.22 ERA, 5.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald reported (Spanish link) back in November that Quiala had been granted free agency by Major League Baseball, adding that he can run his fastball up into the mid-90s. Given his age and limited experience, Quiala would be subject to international signing limitations. Because the Astros have already spent the vast majority of their 2014-15 budget, it seems unlikely that Quiala received a significant bonus; even $1MM would put Houston well over their allotted pool. Ben Badler of Baseball America ran down all of Houston’s significant expenditures in his April review of their international signings.
  • The KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization have signed first baseman Dan Black, who had been playing with the Triple-A affiliate for the White Sox, Han Lee of Global Sporting Integration reports (on Twitter). Black, 27, is a former 14th-round pick of the White Sox (2009) that was hitting an impressive .324/.457/.568 with six homers in 34 games for Triple-A Charlotte this season. He’ll be paid $300K, according to the Yonhap News Agency, and will be replacing former big league right-hander Andy Sisco on the Wiz’s roster. Sisco, who was recently released by the Wiz (according to the Yonhap), posted a 6.23 ERA with 42 strikeouts but 25 walks in 39 innings of work with the Wiz in what was his only KBO action to this point of his career.


AL West Notes: Kazmir, Angels, Mariners, Correa

Athletics left-hander Scott Kazmir left today’s start against the Tigers with soreness in his throwing shoulder, and manager Bob Melvin told reporters after the game that Kazmir is undergoing an MRI (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Jane Lee). It’s not known at this time whether or not Kazmir will require a stint on the disabled list, but as an impending free agent and a potential trade target, that status of Kazmir is one that could have significant impact on storylines around the game in the coming months. To this point in the season, Kazmir has been brilliant, notching a 2.93 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 47.1 percent ground-ball rate in 58 1/3 inning. Kazmir is earning $11MM in the second and final season of a two-year, $22MM contract.

Here’s more from the AL West…

  • Following the Angels‘ trade for Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Marc Krauss could find himself headed back to Triple-A, but the team could also place Collin Cowgill on the disabled list, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Gonzalez’s notebook post looks at several roster situations for the Angels, including the team’s uncertain second base situation and the injury status of right-hander Mike Morin, who doesn’t sound to be returning anytime soon. Morin will miss “weeks, not days,” per manager Mike Scioscia.
  • The Mariners have been operating with a six-man bullpen for a couple of days as a means of delaying the need to make a decision on the team’s veterans, writes Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Delaying a move by even a few days gave the Mariners time to further examine trade possibilities, Dutton notes, but they’ll soon need to add a reliever to the mix. Candidates include Lucas Luetge, Mayckol Guaipe and Kevin Gregg, though Gregg would require a 40-man roster move and force the team’s hand even sooner. Players currently at risk, Dutton writes, are Rickie Weeks, Willie Bloomquist, Justin Ruggiano and Dustin Ackley. It seems highly unlikely that the Mariners would do something as drastic as designating Ackley for assignment, but if they’re truly exploring trade possibilities, he’d likely have the most appeal of the four players listed by Dutton. One way to buy a bit more time would be to option Chris Taylor back to Triple-A to make room for a reliever that’s already on the 40-man roster.
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle that there will be no second-guessing on when the team should have brought up top prospect Carlos Correa, regardless of how the season ends. Luhnow says that despite Correa’s gaudy numbers at Triple-A, he’s still benefiting from the time there, as he’s being exposed to more offspeed pitches than ever before and being forced to make adjustments within at-bats. Luhnow said that even in an extreme scenario such as missing the playoffs by one game, there would be too many factors — managerial moves, daily roster decisions, player performances — to say whether or not promoting Correa early would’ve altered the course of the season.

AL Notes: Navarro, Doolittle, DeShields

Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro is starting a rehab assignment at Triple-A Buffalo, John Lott of the National Post reports on Twitter. The club will have some roster decisions to make when he’s ready to return, particularly with Jose Bautista still limited to DH duties. Navarro has long seemed like a trade candidate, of course, and he could be the most appealing available receiver now that Welington Castillo has changed hands.

Here’s more from the American League:

  • Today, the Athletics finally welcome back closer Sean Doolittle after a prolonged DL stint to open the year, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Doolittle says he is not concerned that he was only just able to crack 90 mph with his fastball, saying that he still believes that hitters are having trouble picking up the pitch. Of course, his velocity has been trending upward and he will have a long leash as he looks to regain his outstanding form from a year ago. Doolittle, whose return will be most welcome for a struggling A’s pen, is playing in the second year of the $10.5MM extension he inked early in the 2014 season.
  • Josh Hamilton‘s return to the Rangers will not move Rule 5 pick Delino DeShields Jr. out of the regular playing time rotation, manager Jeff Banister tells Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram“This is the first real challenge in the middle of a positive performance,” said Banister. “I’ve thought about that. We’re going to continue to have Delino engaged, as long as he’s playing well, in as many games was we can.” The 22-year-old has hit an impressive .278/.394/.392 over his first 94 big league plate appearances, adding 11 steals in the process. Banister rejected the idea of moving DeShields to second, at least at this point, indicating that the’ll likely share time in center with Leonys Martin while also spelling Hamilton and Shin-soo Choo in the corners. Regardless of when and how he plays, it seems that Texas has every intention of keeping DeShields on the active roster to secure his rights from the Astros for the future.

Minor Moves: Paterson, Nash, Parker, Cerse, Bell, Ryan

Here are the latest minor transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • Lefty Joe Paterson has reached a minor league deal with the Athletics, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Paterson, who just turned 29, had opened the year at Triple-A in the Royals organization after spending his previous seasons with the Giants and Diamondbacks. He threw 40 1/3 innings of 6.25 ERA ball for Arizona at the major league level. This season, he has tossed 12 2/3 frames at the highest level of the minors, striking out 12 and walking six while permitting eight earned runs.
  • The Astros released 2009 third-round pick Telvin Nash, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Nash, 24, was repeating Double-A this year and owned a .228/.318/.456 slash with seven home runs over 130 plate appearances. Despite generally excellent power numbers and solid walk rates, Nash has been unable to avoid the strikeout. He has spent most of his time at first or in the corner outfield.
  • The Cubs re-signed right-hander Blake Parker to a new minor league contract, team director of player development Jaron Madison tells Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register (Twitter link).  Parker was released by the Cubs earlier this month.  The righty posted a 3.68 ERA, 10.4 K/9 and 3.54 K/BB rate over 73 1/3 innings out of Chicago’s bullpen from 2012-14, but he’s been limited to only 3 1/3 Triple-A innings this season due to an elbow injury.
  • The Red Sox have officially signed second baseman Yoilan Cerse, according to Baseball America’s Matt Eddy.  MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reported earlier this month that the Cuban second baseman was close to a minor league deal with Boston.
  • Also from Eddy, the Padres released third baseman Josh Bell.  The 28-year-old signed a minor league deal with San Diego in February but has yet to see any action in 2015.  Bell appeared in 100 games with the Orioles and D’Backs from 2010-12 and has since played in the minors with the White Sox and Yankees, as well as spending 2014 in the Korean Baseball Organization.
  • The Yankees moved shortstop Brendan Ryan from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL and also optioned righty Branden Pinder to Triple-A.  Both moves created 25-man roster space to accommodate newly-promoted southpaw Jacob Lindgren.  Ryan suffered a calf injury during Spring Training and isn’t expected back in action until early June.

Heyman’s Latest: Hamels/Jays, Lucroy, Baez, Correa, Alvarez

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has published the latest installment of his weekly Inside Baseball column, and he kicks it off by reporting that the Blue Jays have inquired on Cole Hamels. However, Heyman hears that Hamels was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause to allow a trade to Toronto, which is a blow for both clubs. The Jays desperately need help in both the rotation and the bullpen, and the Phillies, Heyman notes, would love to get their hands on young pitchers with the upside of Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris. The Blue Jays have a bit of financial leeway after going with inexpensive options at second base, center field and left field, and Heyman writes that the Blue Jays are expected to look at other potential front-line starters this summer as they become available. (He speculatively mentions Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir, though neither’s available just yet.) Additionally, Heyman notes that Blue Jays manager John Gibbons’ job is safe, as GM Alex Anthopoulos has a strong relationship with the skipper and recognizes that the team’s problems are roster-related and shouldn’t be pinned on Gibbons.

Some more highlights from the column, though it’s worth a read in its entirety…

  • The Braves are said to be disappointed in the play of Christian Bethancourt, even from a defensive standpoint, and recently inquired with the Brewers on Jonathan Lucroy. However, Atlanta executives were told by the Brewers that Lucroy isn’t available at this time. That the Brewers wouldn’t trade Lucroy isn’t a shock; he’s owed a very affordable $4MM in 2016 with a $5.25MM option for the 2017 season, so even if the team can’t quickly right the ship, he’d still have enormous trade value at the 2016 trade deadline. More interesting, to me, is that the Braves would so quickly look for an upgrade over Bethancourt and that they’re acting somewhat as buyers. Lucroy, of course, could be called a long-term piece that would be around to help the team when its rebuild is closer to completion. However, acquiring him would surely require the sting of parting with some of the key components of that rebuild.
  • Some rival execs feel that the Cubs are willing to part with Javier Baez and Dan Vogelbach in trades, in part because each was drafted under the previous administration and is not held in as high a regard by the new front office. Each player comes with issues, however, as Baez is trying to cut down on his swing and improve his contact skills, while a scout described first baseman Vogelbach as a “30 fielder” to Heyman (in reference to the 20-80 scouting scale).
  • There are members of the Astros‘ field staff that want to see Carlos Correa with the team right now, but Houston will likely keep him in the minors for another month or so in order to lessen the risk of Correa achieving Super Two status. I’ll add that the Astros will have a more legitimate claim that Correa still needs minor league time than other teams in similar situations have had in the past. Correa is still just 20 years old and has only nine games of experience at the Triple-A level, though he’s continued his brilliant work at the plate there, hitting .326/.362/.558 with a pair of homers. Also of interest to Astros fans — or to fans of teams needing outfield help — the Astros are on the lookout for starting pitching upgrades, and outfield prospect Preston Tucker “seems to be available.” Tucker recently made his MLB debut and has a .963 OPS through 34 plate appearances to go along with a strong minor league track record.
  • Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez has been pitching for years with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, according to Heyman. Some have described it as a “90 percent tear,” but he’s been able to pitch effectively in spite of the issue. Alvarez wouldn’t be the first to pitch through a UCL tear; Ervin Santana and Adam Wainwright are both recent examples of pitchers who pitched for many seasons with partially torn UCLs. Wainwright ultimately underwent Tommy John, though Santana’s is said to have healed and is no longer an issue. In another Marlins-related note, Heyman hears that pitching coach Chuck Hernandez is “under the microscope” with both Jarred Cosart and Steve Cishek struggling greatly in 2015.
  • Brewers starters Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza have little trade value due to their 2015 struggles, but Lohse’s lesser financial commitment and superior clubhouse reputation give him more value. The team is reluctant to trade not only Lucroy, but shortstop Jean Segura as well. The Brewers are a bit more open to dealing Carlos Gomez than that pair, as Gomez is closer to free agency (he’s controlled through 2016).
  • The Mets remain reluctant to trade any of their top arms, as they’ve seen on multiple occasions how quickly Tommy John surgery or other injuries can thin out a club’s depth. (Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz have all had TJ in their careers.) The Mets are also not rushing to find a shortstop, but they have indeed been “all over the map” in terms of trade possibilities with the Cubs.
  • Coco Crisp‘s neck injury is apparently quite serious, and there’s a fear that the oft-injured Athletics outfielder will ultimately require surgery that could bring his season to an end.
  • The Blue Jays would still like to extend both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, but there have yet to be serious discussions with either slugger’s camp. Both players are controlled through the end of the 2016 season.

Amateur Notes: Draft, Fulmer, Kolek, Martinez

The game of baseball is struggling to maintain youth participation, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal, who says that the trend poses real concerns for an otherwise thriving sport. Newly-minted commissioner Rob Manfred has honed in on the issue since taking office, saying that “the biggest predictor of fan avidity as an adult is whether you played the game.” It’s a fascinating read that’s well worth your time.

Let’s check in on some amateur notes from around the game:

  • ESPN.com’s Keith Law (Insider link) posts his first mock draft as June 8th draws near. While acknowledging that it is still early, Law predicts that the Diamondbacks will take Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson with the first overall pick while the Astros will add LSU shortstop Alex Bregman and high school outfielder Kyle Tucker with the second and fifth picks. Law adds that he does not expect Vandy righty Carson Fulmer to make it past the White Sox with the eighth pick.
  • Speaking of Fulmer, Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs suggests that he represents a relatively rare “Black Swan” option in this year’s draft. You’ll need to read the piece to understand the concept, but McDaniel uses that classification for a subset of players that have been somewhat underappreciated by traditional player assessment tools: “small, right-handed, major-college starting pitchers with little to no injury history and a good performance record.”
  • The antithesis of the Black Swan pitcher, perhaps, is the high school power arm, and the Marlins took an enticing one last year in Tyler Kolek. Josh Norris of Baseball America checks in on the 2014 second overall selection, who the club chose over Carlos Rodon. Now featuring an increasingly promising curve, the 19-year-old is said to be showing signs of developing into the top-of-the-rotation starter that Miami dreamed of when it chose him. Of course, his stat line has yet to reflect that promise, and he has a long way to go.
  • The White Sox join a growing list of clubs with “serious interest” in Cuban outfielder Eddy Julio Martinez, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets. The 20-year-old is free to sign at any time, though it’s possible he could wait until the next July 2 period kicks off this summer.
  • Agent Joshua Kusnick discussed the draft from an advisor’s perspective in a podcast with Ryan Sullivan (draft talk begins around the 24:00 mark), sharing his thoughts on the slotting system and the possibility of a worldwide draft, among other issues.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Managers, A’s, Reddick, Tulo, Astros

Earlier this week, in the wake of the Marlins’ managerial change, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports noted that the two skippers who were most obviously on the hot seat had now been dismissed. With Mike Redmond and Brewers skipper Ron Roenicke having been replaced, Rosenthal looks at four more managers who could eventually find themselves in danger of losing their jobs, listing John Gibbons (Blue Jays), Bud Black (Padres), Fredi Gonzalez (Braves) and Terry Collins (Mets) as the likeliest options. Gibbons can’t be blamed for the lack of quality relief arms he has at his disposal, Rosenthal notes, but bench coach Demarlo Hale has long been thought of as a managerial prospect and makes sense as a replacement option. Black’s Padres are struggling with pitching, and Mark Kotsay‘s name is floated by Rosenthal as someone who could be the next recently retired player to turn manager. Braves president of baseball ops John Hart isn’t as high on Gonzalez as president John Schuerholz or Bobby Cox, and there’s been some recent “internal finger-pointing,” Rosenthal hears. Collins nearly lost his job at the end of the 2014 season, he notes, and while the team is still in first place, the Mets’ managerial situation has long been volatile in nature.

Here’s more from Rosenthal…

  • In a new Notes column, Rosenthal looks at the Athletics‘ roster in the wake of a brutal start to the season. As many have pointed out, Scott Kazmir, Tyler Clippard and Ben Zobrist — each a pending free agent — would all be logical trade candidates if the team is still underperforming in July. However, Rosenthal writes that there’s no way GM Billy Beane will act quickly and sell, as he’ll first want to see how the team performs with Zobrist and closer Sean Doolittle healthy and activated from the DL. One change that won’t be coming, Rosenthal adds, is at manager. Beane and skipper Bob Melvin have a strong relationship, and it’s “exceptionally unlikely” that Melvin would be dismissed, in Rosenthal’s eyes.
  • Another possible trade chip for the A’s could be Josh Reddick, who is earning $4.1MM after his second trip through arbitration this year. The Athletics, however, resisted trade offers for Reddick all offseason, Rosenthal hears.
  • Rosenthal recently called Rockies owner Dick Monfort to discuss the recent Troy Tulowitzki trade chatter. However, when Rosenthal began asking about Tulowitzki, Monfort “quickly hung up.” The bizarre situation lends credence to wide-spread belief that Tulo, his agent and even GM Jeff Bridich have little say in whether or not the Rockies trade the face of their franchise. Rather, it’ll come down to the team owner’s wishes.
  • The Astros are considering a long list of pitchers that either are or could become available, and they’ve recently been scouting Jeff Samardzija. It remains to be seen if the Astros would be willing to part with enough to get their hands on Samardzija, though. As Rosenthal notes, some rival execs feel that the tandem pitching system the Astros use in the minors devalues their pitching prospects, though one exec told him that it actually increases the value, as it suppresses the young pitchers’ inning counts.
  • Rosenthal believes the Rays should consider trading left-hander Jake McGee to either help their rotation or another area of the team. McGee, he notes, is earning $3.55MM this season and will see that price tag sail beyond $5MM in arbitration this winter.
  • Of course, as I noted yesterday when looking at this topic, using McGee in the ninth inning would help to keep down the future earnings of Brad Boxberger, who would benefit greatly from two full seasons of saves when he heads into arbitration following the 2016 season. And, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd mentioned to me earlier today when we were chatting, left-handed relief is an area of weakness for the Rays at this time. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if the scenario Rosenthal lays out came to fruition, and it’s hard to imagine that the Rays wouldn’t at least be open-minded to moving McGee.

Astros Acquire Int’l Bonus Slots From Orioles For Chris Lee

The Orioles have announced a deal that will send a pair of 2014-15 international bonus slots to the Astros. Baltimore will pick up left-hander Chris Lee in return.

Houston will pick up the 46th and 76th overall slots, per Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). That delivers an additional $391.5K and $264.3K, respectively, to the Astros’ international coffers for the current July 2 signing season, which is obviously nearing a close.

The addition boosts an already league-leading $5MM+ total allocation. Baltimore had a total of about $2.25MM to work with in the present signing period before today’s move.

The Astros have reportedly signed several seven-figure players, including Ronny RafaelFranklin Perez, and Miguel Sierra. Presumably, the extra space will allow the team to add a few extra players or to avoid some penalties for any overages already incurred.

Lee, 22, has yet to move past the low-A level in the Astros organization, though Baseball America rated him Houston’s 24th-best prospect before the 2014 season. He worked to a 3.66 ERA over 113 innings last year, but posted just 6.0 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9. In Lee’s 30 2/3 frames this time around, he has a more promising 7.0 K/9 versus 2.9 BB/9, though he is running a slightly higher earned run average (4.11).