Houston Astros Rumors

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

Quick Hits: Astros, Young, Mesoraco

Five current members of the Astros bullpen (Luke Gregerson, Chad Qualls, Pat Neshek, Joe Thatcher and Sam Deduno) were on the 2011 Padres, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart notes. Astros manager A.J. Hinch was an executive with the Padres in 2011, but he says the Astros weren’t intentionally aiming to acquire former Padres players. “When we started this offseason, we wanted to have multiple guys that could finish games,” says Hinch. “Chad Qualls has a long history of closing, and Neshek and Gregerson were added for that reason. The way the game has evolved, those last nine outs are really hard to get, and to have guys that have done it before is nice to have.” Here are more quick notes from around the Majors.

  • Outfielder Chris Young has had much more success with the Yankees than he had with their crosstown rivals, writes MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. “We’ve always talked about [how] New York sometimes can be a tough place to get used to and adjust to. Sometimes it takes some players some time,” says Yankees manager Joe Girardi. “The way he’s played for us, I’m a little bit surprised that’s what happened [with the Mets], but he’s been really good for us.” Young now has 17 extra-base hits in 112 plate appearances with the Yankees going back to last season, after having just 20 in 287 plate appearances with the Mets. He’s also done a better job hitting for average and getting on base. His history suggests he might come back to earth, but at only 31, he could continue to help in a part-time role in the Bronx. Hoch notes that Young’s contract contains a series of bonuses for plate appearance thresholds, so if Young continues to play well, he could end up making significantly more than the $2.5MM he’s guaranteed.
  • The Reds say catcher Devin Mesoraco (hip impingement) was available to pinch-hit this weekend, but his absence in the ninth inning with the tying run aboard against the Cardinals says otherwise, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. Mesoraco wasn’t even in the team’s clubhouse after the game, Rosecrans reports. Mesoraco has been out for a week now, but the Reds continue to play with a short bench, even though they could place Mesoraco on the disabled list and backdate the move to April 13. In any case, being without a healthy Mesoraco hurts the 5-6 Reds — he earned a January extension after hitting .273/.359/.534 in a breakout 2014 season.

McDaniel On The June Draft

Here’s the latest on the 2015 draft, via a massive post from FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel.

  • McDaniel notes that there isn’t much top-level talent in this draft (an opinion shared by many analysts), and says that the industry is unclear what the Diamondbacks will do with, or even how they’re thinking about, the first pick in the draft.
  • The Astros, who have the second overall pick, appear to be focused on high school shortstop Brendan Rodgers, UC-Santa Barbara pitcher Dillon Tate, and Vanderbilt infielder Dansby Swanson, who McDaniel ranks the top three prospects in the draft.
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington was seen on ESPNU last night watching Swanson and Vanderbilt pitcher Carson Fulmer. The Red Sox pick seventh. They’ve also been connected to LSU shortstop Alex Bregman. McDaniel ranks Bregman the fourth-best prospect in the draft, Fulmer the seventh.
  • Since the draft lacks much top talent, one possibility is that many teams will draft second-round-type players in the first round and save money against their bonus pools for later picks in the draft.
  • McDaniel ranks Astros unsigned 2014 No. 1 pick Brady Aiken the No. 24 prospect in the draft, noting that many in the industry feel that Aiken’s arm issues go beyond Tommy John surgery and that he could have further injury problems later in his career.

AL Notes: DeJesus, Rays, Medlen

The Astros christened the Astrodome 50 years ago today with the first regular season game played in the Eighth Wonder of the World, remembers Bob Hulsey of The Astros Daily. Twenty-two NASA astronauts threw out the ceremonial first pitch, but Philadelphia shutout Houston 2-0 behind Dick Allen‘s home run, the first regular season long ball hit in the Astrodome, and Chris Short‘s four-hitter.

In American League news and notes from today:

  • The Rays have been trying to trade outfielder David DeJesus because of his salary and a lack of a clear-cut role on the team, but John Jaso‘s wrist injury changes that for now, tweets the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin. DeJesus blasted a three-run home run for the Rays this afternoon and is hitting .545 (6-for-11) with a 1.454 OPS on the young season.
  • Rays President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman sees an upside to the club having a MLB-leading nine players on the disabled list, writes Topkin. “We knew we would be calling upon our depth, and that call has come sooner than we expected,” said Silverman. “The bright side of this is that we’re going to get a chance to see some of these (replacement) players and get a better look at them, and we’ll be even better off when our players return from injuries.” Topkin notes the Rays have nearly one-third of their payroll (nearly $25MM) on the DL and six of the organization’s top ten starting pitchers.
  • Royals right-hander Kris Medlen threw curveballs off the mound this week for the first time since undergoing his second Tommy John surgery and plans to return to Phoenix for rehab outings in May, tweets Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star.


Heyman’s Latest: Kimbrel, Howard, Perez, Salty, Soriano, Cueto

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has penned a lengthy column that’s chock full of Hot Stove related items as the season gets underway. First and foremost, he chronicles the Braves‘ trade of Craig Kimbrel at length. Heyman spoke to president of baseball ops John Hart, who candidly told Heyman that the team took a hard line of refusing to trade Kimbrel unless Melvin Upton Jr. was involved in the deal. “We were not going to separate Kimbrel and trade him by himself,” Hart told Heyman. Atlanta reached out to the Cubs, Astros, Dodgers and Padres, among others, this winter in an effort to move Upton, and despite the Dodgers’ bullpen needs, they weren’t willing to add Upton’s contract to that of Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, having already shed Matt Kemp‘s contract. The Padres trade didn’t heat up until about four days before it was agreed upon, Heyman writes, with Hart even remaining in Orlando to finish negotiations rather than fly with the team to Miami at the end of Spring Training. Hart credited assistant GM John Coppolella for doing much of the legwork and his creativity in getting the trade finalized.

More highlights from Heyman’s article (though the entire piece is well worth your time)…

  • While some reports late in Spring Training indicated that the Phillies would be willing to eat up to $50MM of the remaining $60MM on Ryan Howard‘s contract, two GMs tell Heyman they hadn’t heard that figure. One of those GMs was of the belief that the Phillies’ top offer was to pay about $35MM, which, Heyman speculates, may have been a large reason that the Royals opted to sign Kendrys Morales for two years and $17MM rather than pursue a Howard trade.
  • Speaking of the Royals, Heyman hears that the team is open to pursuing a second extension with catcher Salvador Perez and would be happy to make him a Royal for life. Heyman notes that some in the organization even have some sympathy for Perez, whose five-year, $7MM contract is widely considered the most team-friendly deal in all of baseball. Perez’s deal contains three startlingly low club options valued at $3.75MM, $5MM and $6MM for the 2017-19 seasons — two of which would have been free-agent seasons beginning at the age of 28.
  • The Marlins tried to trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia this winter after the catcher’s first season on a three-year, $21MM pact was a struggle, but his salary was too great a deterrent. The Marlins presumably feel that top prospect J.T. Realmuto could step into the catcher’s role in the not-too-distant future.
  • The Tigers are believed to be at least monitoring Rafael Soriano‘s workouts at the Boras Sports Training Institute in Miami, per Heyman. However, Soriano has seen his stock suffer not only due to ineffective innings late int he 2014 season but also due to perceptions about his personality and negative clubhouse impact. At least one club that was taking a hard look at late-inning relievers ruled out Soriano entirely due to that perception, Heyman reports.
  • The Reds felt the odds of extending Johnny Cueto prior to Opening Day were so slim that it’s not even clear if they made a formal offer, writes Heyman. Cueto is seeking a figure in the range of $200MM following Max Scherzer‘s mammoth contract this offseason, he adds. Heyman also opines that David Price would probably be selling himself short if he took much less than $200MM from the Tigers at this point as well.
  • Anecdotally, Heyman tells the story of how Cody Ross‘ career began when he was sold to the Marlins from the Reds in exchange for “cash considerations” of precisely one dollar. Former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky spoke to Heyman about the deal, explaining that they didn’t have room on the Cincinnati roster back in ’06 but genuinely wanted to get Ross into the best possible position to have a chance at a Major League roster spot. Ross has gone on to earn more than $52MM in the game of baseball.

Minor Moves: White, Presley, Capps, Perez, Smoker

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • Astros outfielder Alex Presley has cleared waivers and is now deciding whether to accept his outright assignment, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). He is expected to accept the assignment in order to retain his $1MM salary, per the report. Righty Alex White has also cleared waivers and has been assigned to Houston’s Triple-A affiliate, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart tweets.
  • Veteran righty Matt Capps has re-signed with the Braves, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports on Twitter. The former Nationals closer had been with the club this spring but was released. Capps, 31, gave up two long balls in his only two innings of work, and has thrown just 12 professional innings over the last two seasons.
  • The Mariners have loaned lefty Rafael Perez to Mexico’s Quintana Roo Tigers, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune tweets. Perez, 32, was once a mainstay in the Indians’ pen and owns a 3.64 ERA over 329 big league innings. His peripherals declined, however, and he has not pitched in the big leagues since 2012. Perez has put up strong numbers in the upper minors over the last two years, however, and even returned to working as a starter last year.
  • Former top draft pick Josh Smoker has signed with the Mets, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. The 26-year-old, who washed out of the Nationals’ system, is said to be working back into the mid-90s with his fastball.

Astros Designate Alex White For Assignment

TUESDAY: White has been placed on outright waivers, Drellich reports.

SUNDAY: The Astros have designed right-hander Alex White for assignment, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports.  Between this move and designating Alex Presley for assignment earlier this week, Houston now has two 40-man roster spots for Roberto Hernandez and Joe Thatcher.

White was selected by the Indians as the 15th overall pick of the 2009 draft and was formerly a high-rated prospect, ranked as high as 47th in Baseball America’s preseason list of the top 100 prospects in the sport prior to the 2011 season.  He has struggled over 149 Major League innings with Cleveland and Colorado in 2011-12, posting a career 6.03 ERA with 6.09 K/9, and 4.58 BB/9 and he also missed all of the 2013 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

White and Presley are two of the four players currently in “DFA limbo” according to the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker.  The two Astros join the Yankees’ Austin Romine and the Tigers’ Chad Smith in awaiting their next assignment.


Astros Place Alex Presley On Outright Waivers

APRIL 7: Houston is seeking outright waivers on Presley, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets. That means that a trade could not be arranged, leaving Presley open for the taking by any club willing to absorb his contract.

If Presley is not claimed, he would likely remain within the Houston organization as Triple-A depth. Though he could elect free agency because he is a Super Two player, Drellich tweets, that would mean giving up his guaranteed salary.

APRIL 1: The Astros have designated outfielder Alex Presley for assignment, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports on Twitter. While the club would like to keep him, they may attempt to work out a trade, McTaggart tweets.

Presley saw 271 plate appearances with Houston last year after being claimed off waivers. He slashed just .244/.281/.346 with six home runs and five steals. Playing mostly in the corner outfield, Presley was unable to stay above the replacement line. His work at the plate showed more of the same this spring.

Presley should draw interest from teams looking for some versatility. He is out of options, of course, meaning that a team would have to give him an active roster spot in claiming him. Presley also comes with a $1MM salary in his first year of arbitration eligibility (as a Super Two).


Quick Hits: Soriano, Astros, Wandy, Hamilton

Rafael Soriano is talking with multiple teams at the moment but doesn’t appear close to signing, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).  Soriano is still looking for a team as Opening Day approaches despite a largely successful season with the Nationals in 2014.  Some scouts felt, however, that his stuff deteriorated late in the season, and Soriano did indeed lose his grip on the closer’s role in September. The last team connected to Soriano was the Twins, though team officials have since downplayed their interest.  Here’s some more from around baseball…

  • The Astros are looking to add another starting pitcher, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.
  • Also from Heyman, he opines that the recently-released Wandy Rodriguez could be of interest to the Phillies.  Rodriguez almost joined the Phils earlier this winter but failed a physical, which led him to sign with the Braves instead.
  • While the relationship between Josh Hamilton and the Angels seems strained at best, the two sides “like it or not…are stuck with each other,” ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in his latest Insider-only piece.  Hamilton’s big contract, lack of production and off-the-field issues make him virtually impossible to trade, while Hamilton will likely have to accept a reduced role when he returns to the club.
  • The Nationals are facing the most pressure of any team in baseball this season, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes in his rundown of the top 12 teams who have a particularly big need for strong results in 2015.

Padres Return Rule 5 Pick Jandel Gustave To Astros

The Padres have returned Rule 5 pick Jandel Gustave to the Astros, Houston announced. Gustave will open the year in Double-A.

The right-hander was originally a Rule 5 selection of the Red Sox, but had his rights dealt to the Royals. He was then claimed off waivers by San Diego. Today’s move will bring his travels to an end, at least for the time being.

Gustave, a raw 22-year-old with a huge fastball, was never really expected to stick with the Padres. Though he has shown the ability to rack up strikeouts at a useful pace in the low minors, Gustave has yet to prove he can keep the ball in the zone — let alone that he can consistently retire major league hitters.


Quick Hits: Kluber, Price, Dodgers, Singleton

Indians GM Chris Antonetti declined to comment on the Corey Kluber negotiations with reporters (including MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian) today, though he reiterated that the team has “a clear preference” to conclude any contract talks before Opening Day in order to “minimize distractions” for the players.  The chances of an extension before Opening Day “are said to be less than great” according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, though FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday that “some progress” had been made between the two sides.

Here are some more items from around the baseball world…

  • The Tigers are thought to be more eager to keep David Price on a long-term extension than they were Max Scherzer last year since Price has a better track record of durability, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports.  Still, three sources tell Heyman that the two sides aren’t close to an agreement that would keep Price in Detroit beyond this season.
  • Reliever Mike Adams will not report to Triple-A as planned and has left the Dodgers, Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register reports (Twitter link).  Moura suggests that Adams may be on the verge of retirement.  After struggling through two injury-plagued seasons, Adams signed a minor league deal with Los Angeles last month.
  • Hector Olivera and Jose Millan Fernandez, the Dodgers‘ two recent high-profile Cuban signings, are still awaiting visas and have yet to come to the United States, Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times writes.
  • Jon Singleton faced some criticism from fellow players for signing a five-year, $10MM extension (with three club option years) with the Astros before ever appearing in a Major League game.  Given the slow start to Singleton’s career, however, Fangraphs’ Craig Edwards believes Singleton’s decision is looking better and better.  Singleton struggled through his rookie season and will begin 2015 in the minors, yet had he not signed that extension, he would only have earned roughly $540K instead of the $3.5MM he’s guaranteed in 2014-15.  There’s also still plenty of time for Singleton to develop into a quality big leaguer and for this deal to become a bargain for Houston.
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels and new manager Jeff Banister talk to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News about what went into Banister’s hiring and how the Rangers view the modern relationship between the front office and the clubhouse.