Houston Astros Rumors

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

Offseason Outlook: Houston Astros

It was a tumultuous season for the Astros, to say the least. A security breach led to a large number of trade notes being leaked to the public, the team failed to sign No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken and manager Bo Porter was dismissed in September after apparent communications problems with the front office and possibly some players. GM Jeff Luhnow and his staff will need to work to move past that bad press and focus on furthering the rebuilding efforts.

Guaranteed Contracts

Arbitration Eligible Players (Service time in parentheses; projections via Matt Swartz)

Contract Options

  • Matt Albers, RHP: $3MM club option with a $200K buyout

Free Agents

Houston’s offseason began while the season was still underway, to some degree, as the team fired Porter and began the search for a new manager. A.J. Hinch — a statistically inclined 40-year-old with previous experience as a big league skipper and front office exec — was selected for the job and seems to be a good fit with the team’s unorthodox philosophies. As for the payroll, that figure almost doubled from 2013 to 2014, though it still sat at just $50MM to open the year. Nonetheless, owner Jim Crane told the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich that payroll could go up by another $20MM and noted that Luhnow could look to “add some cornerstones” as long as it makes baseball sense. That’ll be addressed in more depth later, but first, a quick look back at the season that was.

Lost in many of the negative narratives surrounding the 2014 Astros was the fact that the team took a large step in the right direction in terms of results. The team made a 19-game improvement over its 2013 performance, and the much-hyped future began to emerge on the field. George Springer debuted and hit .231/.336/.468 with 20 homers in just 345 plate appearances, although his season was cut short by an injured quadriceps muscle. Unheralded hurlers Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh stepped out of obscurity and into the spotlight not only as reliable arms, but as potential front-line options. Each was worth more than three wins above replacement, per Fangraphs, and more than four WAR according to Baseball-Reference. The only player in baseball who hit more home runs than Carter was Nelson Cruz. Mike Foltynewicz and his 100 mph fastball made a bullpen cameo at season’s end, though the team hopes that his future is alongside Keuchel and McHugh in the rotation. And of course, Altuve hit .341/.377/.453 and captured his first batting title. The second baseman led all of Major League Baseball with 225 hits and swiped 56 bases — tops in the AL — in addition to his excellent work at the plate.

One much-ballyhooed name that didn’t contribute this season, however, was Singleton. His contract extension was widely considered a loss for the player and a steal for the Astros seemingly before the ink dried, but five months later, it’s hard to blame him for taking his first fortune. Singleton batted just .168/.285/.335 with a 37 percent strikeout rate, and while he may be Houston’s first baseman of the future, I’d imagine he’ll have to earn a roster spot next year. Carter can assume the first base duties if Singleton is ticketed for Triple-A to open the year.

Houston may feel set at catcher with Castro, even if he didn’t live up to the high standard he set with an elite 2013 campaign. The Stanford product hit .222/.286/.366 with 14 homers — numbers that, while unspectacular, aren’t vastly inferior to the .244/.309/.376 that MLB catchers averaged in 2014. The outfield, too, figures to be more or less locked in with Springer in right, Fowler in center and a combination of Jake Marisnick (acquired in July’s Jarred Cosart trade) and Robbie Grossman. Top prospect Domingo Santana is another option.

One player they could make an exception for would be Yasmany Tomas. Last offseason, Houston made serious runs at both Jose Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka, falling a few million shy with their bid for Abreu and reportedly bidding over $100MM for Tanaka. Both were seen as more certain investments than Tomas, so it’s possible that Houston won’t be as interested this time around. However, one can also envision a scenario in which the team steadfastly refuses to miss out on a third international superstar and goes the extra mile for Tomas, especially if they’re convinced of his star potential. He could certainly qualify as one of the aforementioned “cornerstones,” and it does seem likely that the Astros will be involved. Were they to sign Tomas, Santana and Grossman could become trade chips, while Marisnick and Springer rounded out the long-term outfield mix. Of course, that’s all highly speculative.

Where else can Houston look to upgrade? The left side of the infield is a prime spot for Luhnow to target. Opening Day starters Matt Dominguez and Jonathan Villar flopped, as the former hit just .215/.256/.330 and the latter was every bit as feeble before eventually being demoted to the minors. Houston might not have to wait long until the future at each position arrives, however, as a pair of Top 6 draft picks from 2012-13 are looming. The Astros selected Carlos Correa — ranked as the game’s No. 3 prospect midseason by Baseball America and ESPN, and ranked second by MLB.com — with the first overall pick in 2012, and he dominated Class-A Advanced before a fractured fibula ended his season. Colin Moran, the UNC third baseman selected sixth overall by Miami in 2013, was acquired alongside Marisnick and hit .304/.350/.411 with Houston’s Double-A affiliate in 29 games at a young age for that level (21).

With Moran and Correa not terribly far off, stopgaps are an attractive and logical concept for the Astros. Houston could be a nice low-pressure environment for someone like Stephen Drew to attempt to rebuild his value on a one-year deal. He’d provide sound defense even if his bat didn’t fully recover despite a full Spring Training, and if he performed well, he would of course be a logical trade chip. The same could be said of Alberto Callaspo, who entered 2014 as a lifetime .273/.335/.381 hitter with a solid defensive reputation but batted just .223/.290/.290 this year. Neither option is elite, but both are bounceback candidates that could be had at relatively inexpensive levels. If Houston wants to look more long-term at third base for a potential mainstay, they could try to make the highest bid on a multi-year deal for Chase Headley, whom Tim Dierkes profiled earlier today.

As far as the rotation is concerned, Houston has a pair of potential stalwarts, as previously noted, in addition to the veteran Feldman as a solid rotation cog. Mark Appel‘s Class-A struggles were highly publicized, but rumors of his demise as a prospect looked to have been greatly exaggerated as soon as he reached Double-A. In 39 frames at that level, he posted a solid 3.69 ERA with a strong 38-to-13 K/BB ratio. He may not be a factor next year, but he’s firmly in the organization’s plans, along with Foltynewicz, Keuchel and McHugh. One-year, upside plays such as Brett Anderson, Brandon Morrow, Justin Masterson and Gavin Floyd all make some degree of sense. If the team wants to expand its search to include multi-year candidates, it may have to go the route it did with Feldman in 2013-14 — offer an extra year at a solid annual rate in order to secure the deal. (I speculated in my recent free agent profile on Brandon McCarthy that some clubs may go that route with him, for example.)

The bullpen presents perhaps the most glaring weakness on the team, and Luhnow has indicated that it will be a priority. Rolling the dice on Albers would be a $2.8MM gamble coming off some serious health issues, so I’d expect him to be bought out for $200K. After that decision, the remaining options aren’t inspiring. Beyond Qualls, Sipp and perhaps Josh Fields, there was little continuity and little reason to expect significantly better performance from the arms that were present. The team did claim Sam Deduno from the Twins in late August, so perhaps the plan is for him to serve as a swingman. Still there appears to be room for at least two veteran upgrades.

Throwing a lot of money at David Robertson doesn’t seem like something the club is likely to do, but there’s some upside to rolling the dice on a former closer who struggled a bit in 2014, such as Sergio Romo. Another avenue perhaps worth exploring would be to sign a setup man with a strong track record such as Luke Gregerson and promise him the ninth inning as a means of enticement. Some buy-low, late-inning options could include Andrew Bailey, Jason Motte and Luke Hochevar, though Houston may want more certainty after being burned by Crain in 2014. I like Jason Grilli, Casey Janssen and Burke Badenhop as fits for the Astros as well.

We’ve learned in past years that it’s tough to rule out the Astros trading anyone — just ask Cosart — and they do have some players that seem like candidates this coming winter. Fowler has just one year remaining before free agency and is projected to earn a fairly hefty $9MM. Castro could be an attractive trade chip for rival clubs given the paper-thin free agent market for catchers. Houston does have an in-house alternative at catcher in the form of the cost-controlled Max Stassi, who a year ago was their No. 12 prospect (per Baseball America) and ranked 19th among Astros farmhands on MLB.com’s midseason Top 20 list. The team reportedly shopped Carter this past July, although that was before he batted .253/.336/.526 with 16 homers in his final 52 contests. That impressive showing, especially given the difficulty of finding offense in today’s game, may have swayed their thinking. Then again, they may think that success unrepeatable and look to sell at peak value.

The Astros are staunchly unafraid of being nontraditional, and right or wrong, that often renders them as little more than a punchline in many circles. However, the team has an impressive farm system that is slowly crossing the threshold to the Major League roster, and it’s easy to envision a group that resembles a contender in the not-too-distant future. That time almost certainly won’t be 2015, however, unless the ‘Stros catch a large number of breaks. A few well-calculated stopgaps could help bridge the gap to the next wave of talent — Correa, Moran, Appel, Foltynewicz, Santana, Josh Hader and others — and potentially lead to a further influx of talent into the Houston pipeline. A veteran “cornerstone,” as Crane alluded to, isn’t out of the question, but aside from a run at a young talent like Tomas, it’s difficult to envision the Astros playing at the top of the free agent market.

Astros Payroll Could Rise By $20MM

Astros owner Jim Crane says that the club’s payroll could increase by about $20MM next year, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. Increased payroll availability does not mean that the team will use that cash, Crane cautioned, though he sounded willing to spend if it makes baseball sense.

“I think somewhere around [$20MM],” said Crane. “We’re not going to spend it to spend it. We’re going to try to spend it effectively and you know if we need to stretch a little, we’ll stretch a little. If there’s not a good reason to do that, we won’t do that. But you know we’ll continue to move up.”

Houston started 2014 with about $50MM in payroll on the books, meaning that the team could move into the $70MM range next year. The club has less than $18MM guaranteed heading into the offseason, but will need to pay arbitration raises to several players, including Dexter Fowler, Jason Castro, and Chris Carter.

Crane added that the club’s television rights fee situation will have a major role in setting future spending. “A couple of years ago we only got paid half of our rights fees,” he explained. “This year we didn’t get paid anything and this year hopefully we go back and get something paid for our coverage and it’ll have a big impact on what we’ll be able to spend on the team.” Specifically, Crane indicated that a nine-figure budget could be in the cards depending upon how the TV situation shakes out.

In terms of where that money might be allocated, Crane said that GM Jeff Luhnow would look to “add some more cornerstones.” As the team continues to work to add talent to its developing young core, Crane indicated that it might be expected to sign two or three major league free agents this year.

Richards, Shoemaker, Castro, Furbush, And Morrison Change Agencies

Relativity Sports has added an even handful of new clients, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports (Twitter links). In addition to Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker of the Angels, Relativity has taken on Jason Castro of the Astros along with Charlie Furbush and Logan Morrison of the Mariners as clients. Each of those players had been with Octagon, but it appears that they followed agent Fred Wray to his new agency.

Among this group of players, only Shoemaker has yet to reach arbitration eligibility. He and fellow breakout Angels starter Richards (who will be entering his first arb year as a Super Two) could well become extension candidates if they maintain their form. Meanwhile, Castro could be a somewhat difficult-to-peg arbitration case, as he looks to improve on his $2.45MM salary after a rough year.

Morrison, too, could require some effort from his new firm. He managed to bridge a large gap in filing figures last year, settling on a $1.75MM deal. But Morrison’s future remains unclear after putting up a solid, if unspectacular, .262/.315/.420 slash over 365 plate appearances. He could be ready to go through another (relatively) high-stakes round of arbitration negotiations, find himself dealt to a new club, or even be set loose to find a new club on the open market.

Be sure to check out MLBTR’s Agency Database for the most up-to-date information on player representation.

Carlos Correa, Tyler Chatwood Change Agencies

Top Astros prospect Carlos Correa — the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft — has changed representation and is now a client of Greg Genske and the Legacy Agency, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). In other agency news, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish tweets that Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood has switched agents as well and is now a client of agent Bob Garber. He had previously been with MVP Sports.

A report from ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick earlier this week indicated that Correa was leaving his previous agents at KMG and seeking new representation, having talked with Legacy, the Boras Corporation, MVP and Excel Sports. The Puerto Rican shortstop ranked second on the midseason edition of MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list, and he ranked third on the same lists from Baseball America and ESPN’s Keith Law (Insider subscription required).

Correa, who recently turned 20 years old, was in the midst of an outstanding season with Houston’s Class-A Advanced affiliate this season despite being nearly four years younger than the league’s average age at 19 before breaking his fibula while sliding. He batted .325/.416/.510 with six homers and 20 steals in 293 plate appearances before his injury. In his scouting report, Law noted that Correa has improved at every stop on both sides of the game, giving him a chance to stick at shortstop defensively. Both his power and plate discipline progressed faster than even some optimistic scouts had expected, Law adds.

Chatwood, 24, had a breakout season with the Rockies in 2013, posting a 3.15 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 58.5 percent ground-ball rate in 111 1/3 innings. However, he tossed just 24 innings in 2014 before his season would come to an end with an injury that would eventually require Tommy John surgery. Chatwood underwent his operation on July 19, so it’s possible that he could return to the Rockies late in the 2015 campaign. He will be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason. As Cotillo notes in a second tweet, Chatwood had previously left the Boras Corporation for MVP back in January.

Both of these changes are now reflected in MLBTR’s Agency Database, which contains agent information on more than 2,000 Major League and Minor League players. If you see any errors or omissions within the database, please let us know via email: mlbtrdatabase@gmail.com.

Agency Notes: A.J. Pollock, Carlos Correa

As always, you can find information on player representation in MLBTR’s Agency Database. Here’s the latest on notable agency changes:

  • Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock has changed representatives, moving to Brian Peters of the Legacy Sports Group, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Pollock had been represented by Icon Sports Management. The 26-year-old dealt with some injuries this year, but that did not detract much from the sparkling .302/.353/.498 line, with 7 home runs and 14 stolen bases, that he put up in 287 plate appearances. With sparkling defense in center factored in, Pollock was worth a rather remarkable 3.9 rWAR and 3.3 fWAR in that stretch. Though he is not arb-eligible until after the 2015 season, Pollock certainly looks like an extension candidate.
  • Top Astros prospect Carlos Correa is shopping around for a new agent, leading to a major chase to add him as a client, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter links). Among the contenders are such familiar outfits as the Legacy Agency, the Boras Agency, Excel Sports Management, and Dan Lozano. The shortstop, who just turned 20, is currently represented by Kinzer Management Group. Correa had his season cut short by a broken leg, but nevertheless saw his star continue to rise with a .325/.416/.510 campaign at High-A. He also swiped 20 bags and contributed six long balls. The first overall pick in the 2012 draft, Correa currently rates as the second-best prospect in all of baseball in the eyes of MLB.com.

AL West Notes: Young, A’s, Lowrie, Hinch

Former Rangers cornerstone Michael Young has joined the team’s front office, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link), although Heyman does not include specifics on Young’s role with the club. While he was once speculated as a candidate to fill the team’s managerial vacancy, he’s now helping with the search, Heyman adds.

More from the AL West…

  • Rival executives don’t expect Athletics GM Billy Beane to stand pat following the team’s late collapse and elimination in last night’s one-game playoff, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. One executive speculated that Jeff Samardzija could be an offseason trade candidate, while a second threw out the possibility of trading Josh Donaldson. While I can personally envision the Samardzija scenario — he’s a free agent after 2015 and could $10MM+ via arbitration — the Donaldson suggestion is tough to picture. As Rosenthal notes, he’s arb-eligible for the first time this offseason and controlled through 2018, so there’s no reason to think Oakland would feel pressure to trade him.
  • Among the players whom the A’s could potentially lose to free agency is Jed Lowrie, and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle spoke with Lowrie about the situation (All Twitter links). Slusser notes that Lowrie is one of the few players who was honest about his free agency by admitting that money will be a driving factor behind his decision. Lowrie adds that he’s looking for a good fit for him and his family, and he says he’s be willing to play second base on a full-time basis. Asked about the possibility of receiving a qualifying offer, Lowrie said he’d have to give consideration to accepting. A qualifying offer to Lowrie seems unlikely, in my view.
  • MLB.com’s Richard Justice calls the Astros‘ hiring of A.J. Hinch a bold move and revisits former Diamondbacks/Padres GM Josh Byrnes’ decision to give Hinch his first managerial gig back in 2009. The move was controversial, to say the least, as Byrnes had to dismiss the popular Bob Melvin to bring the 34-year-old Hinch into the picture. Hinch had never coached or managed, but as Byrnes explains to Justice, Hinch brings a number of desirable qualities to the table.
  • Justice’s colleague, Brian McTaggart, writes that Astros players appear to be on board with the move. Chad Qualls spoke highly of Hinch, who was his manager with the D’Backs in 2010, and Gregorio Petit called him “a real honest guy” after getting to know him a bit while in the Padres organization. Dallas Keuchel is excited after meeting Hinch and hinted that there were communication problems not only between previous manager Bo Porter and the front office, but also between Porter and the players. “I think we need to have better communication than we’ve had in the past couple of years,” said Keuchel.

Rule 5 Draft Roundup

With the regular season in the books, it’s worth assessing how things ultimately shook out from last winter’s Rule 5 draft. Only nine players were taken in this year’s draft. Here’s where things stand:

Remember, players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they aren’t on the 40-man roster four or five years after signing, depending on the age at which they signed. If a team makes a selection, it pays the former team $50K and must keep that player on the Major League roster all season or offer him back to his original team for $25K. (Note that Rule 5 selections can change hands like any other player, with an acquiring team stepping into the shoes of the original selecting club. Click here for more details.)

  • Patrick Schuster, LHP (taken first overall by the Astros from the Diamondbacks): Returned to Arizona. But not before a somewhat eventful tour. He was first dealt to the Padres, then placed on waivers and claimed by the Royals before finally being sent back. He never ended up throwing a big league inning, and ultimately struggled to 4.50 ERA in 18 frames at Triple-A once back with the D’backs.
  • Adrian Nieto, C (taken third overall by the White Sox from the Nationals): Retained by Chicago. The switch-hitting, 24-year-old backstop hung on all year, posting a .236/.296/.340 line in his first 118 MLB plate appearances. He is now White Sox property.
  • Kevin Munson, RHP (taken fourth overall by the Phillies from the Diamondbacks): Returned to Arizona. Munson never made it onto the active roster, and was sent back in mid-March. Though he never saw MLB action this year, he did post a rather dominant campaign at Triple-A: 2.60 ERA, 11.8 K/9, 3.2 BB/9.
  • Tommy Kahnle, RHP (taken eighth overall by the Rockies from the Yankees): Retained by Colorado. The 25-year-old was an oft-used bullpen piece for the Rockies, posting a 4.19 ERA in 68 2/3 frames with 8.3 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9. Colorado owns his rights moving forward.
  • Brian Moran, LHP (taken ninth overall by the Blue Jays from the Mariners): Still in limbo after season-ending surgery. Moran was dealt by Toronto to the Angels on the day of the draft, and opened the season DL’ed on the active roster. But his left elbow ultimately required Tommy John surgery, meaning that he ended up on the 60-day DL. The Halos do not yet own Moran’s rights permanently: to keep him, the club will need to carry him on the active roster without a DL stay for at least 90 days.
  • Seth Rosin, RHP (taken tenth overall by the Mets from the Phillies): Returned to Philadelphia. Dealt immediately after the draft to the Dodgers, Rosin was claimed by the Rangers late in the spring and made three appearances before his roster spot was needed and he was returned. Back at Triple-A with the Phillies, he worked to a 3.86 ERA over 58 1/3 rames.
  • Wei-Chung Wang, LHP (taken eleventh overall by the Brewers from the Pirates): Retained by Milwaukee. It took some doing, but a contending Brewers club was able to hold onto Wang for the entirety of the season. Though he did miss 45 games with a DL stint, Wang ultimately made only 14 appearances for the club. The 22-year-old will presumably be stretched out as a starter again as he returns to his development track in the lower minors.
  • Marcos Mateo, RHP (taken fifteenth overall by the Diamondbacks from the Cubs): Returned to Chicago. Mateo was the first player to be returned, heading back in mid-March. The 30-year-old threw to a 3.86 ERA in 37 1/3 innings upon his return to Triple-A with his original team.
  • Michael Almanzar, 3B (taken sixteenth overall by the Orioles from the Red Sox): Returned to Boston … but ultimately traded back to Baltimore. Shelved with injury for much of the year, Almanzar was returned to the Red Sox in the middle of the summer after a rehab stint. But the O’s obviously wanted him back, and added him as part of the Kelly Johnson deal. Over 233 minor league plate appearances on the year, Almanzar posted a .245/.322/.389 slash.

Projected Super Two Cutoff

The projected cutoff for Super Two status for this offseason’s arbitration class is looking like it’s going to come in at two years, 133 days of Major League service (written as 2.133), MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes hears (Twitter links). However, as he notes, there’s no official ruling on what this year’s cutoff will be. Before getting too much further into the fallout of this figure, let’s provide a quick refresher on what, exactly, Super Two status entails.

Players with at least three but less than six years of Major League service are considered arbitration eligible. Additionally, a player with at least two years but less than three is eligible for arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and ranks in the top 22 percent in total service in the two-to-three-years service class; these players are referred to as “Super Two” players. The current collective bargaining agreement, which went into effect December 12th, 2011, raised that Super Two cutoff percentage from 17 percent to 22 percent, and that 22 percent of players will be eligible for arbitration four times instead of the standard three times. Also bear in mind that for MLB purposes, 172 days is the equivalent of one year of Major League service time.

For some context on this year’s cutoff, here’s a look at the cutoffs from the previous five years:

  • 2013: 2.122
  • 2012: 2.139
  • 2011: 2.146
  • 2010: 2.122
  • 2009: 2.139

Astros infielder Marwin Gonzalez, who will finish with exactly 2.133 years of service, will be the last from the two-to-three-year service class to qualify for the distinction if this cutoff holds. One additional fallout for the White Sox is that the salaries of Jose Quintana will escalate. The southpaw signed a five-year, $21MM contract prior to this season, but his contract contains a clause that causes the guarantee to grow to $26.5MM if he qualifies as a Super Two. Quintana had projected to earn $1MM in 2015, $3.8MM in 2016, $6MM in 2017 and $8.35MM in 2018 with $10.5MM club options for 2019 and 2020 (each with a $1MM buyout). Those salaries will rise to $3.4MM, $5.4MM, $7MM and $8.85MM, respectively. The options will remain unchanged.

Others who looked like candidates early in the season, such as Eduardo Escobar of the Twins, Drew Hutchison of the Blue Jays and DJ LeMahieu of the Rockies would fall just shy of the distinction. (Each of those candidates was identified as a possible Super Two player in our last look at the projected Super Two cutoff back in April.)

Astros Hire A.J. Hinch As Manager

5:36pm: The Astros have officially announced Hinch as their new manager. In a prepared statement within a press release, GM Jeff Luhnow offered the following praise for Hinch:

“I am extremely excited to bring in A.J. as our new manage. Throughout our process, we searched for a person with previous Major League experience, who could effectively lead our young, growing nucleus of talented players. I have no doubt that A.J. is the right person to do that. He brings experience as a Major League player, Major League manager and player development executive. His skillsets and leadership abilities will be enormous assets in our clubhouse and to our entire organization.”

3:31pm: The Astros have called a press conference to make a “significant announcement” at 5:30pm CT today, and MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart hears from a source that it will be to name the team’s new manager (Twitter link). Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports (Twitter link) that A.J. Hinch is “close” to becoming the Astros’ manager, so it seems likely that Hinch will be announced in that role two hours from now. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick had tweeted earlier in the day that Hinch was still in the running as the search was narrowing.

Hinch, 40, served as the Diamondbacks’ manager for parts of the 2009-10 seasons, leading the team to an 89-123 record after being hired despite his young age (34 at the time) and the fact that he hadn’t managed at any previous level. More recently, Hinch has served as the vice president of professional scouting for the Padres — a position he left earlier this summer. Hinch was one of three men, along with assistant GMs Omar Minaya and Fred Uhlman Jr., to fill in making baseball operations decisions for the Padres following the dismissal of GM Josh Byrnes earlier this year. A Stanford graduate, Hinch has been called a “numbers guy” by some, so the match with the analytics-driven Astros isn’t a total surprise.

In addition to his time as a manager and in the front office, Hinch played in parts of eight Major League seasons between the Athletics, Royals, Tigers and Phillies. A catcher by trade, Hinch batted .219/.280/.356 with 32 homers in 1075 big league plate appearances from 1998-2004.

The Astros dismissed Bo Porter from the managerial position earlier this month and have leaned on former minor league manager Tom Lawless as the club’s interim manager. Lawless, along with Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu and Rays bench coach Dave Martinez were all said to have interviewed for the position at one point.

Multiple Teams Change Minor League Affiliations

As Baseball America’s Josh Leventhal writes, yesterday marked a two-week period where Major League clubs are free to negotiate with available minor league organizations. Major League clubs sign player development contracts with minor league organizations much like players will sign contracts with teams. As such, Leventhal notes that the “affiliation shuffle” is akin to free agency for minor league teams. Leventhal’s article provides more insight behind many of the moves and offers quite a bit of detail for those who are curious to read more about this process.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll see multiple teams sign deals with new affiliates, and MLBTR will keep track of them here for those that are interested …

Class-A Advanced

  • The Braves announced that they have moved their Class-A Advanced affiliate from Lynchburg, Va. to Zebulon, N.C. (formerly an Indians affiliate) after agreeing to a two-year PDC. They will inherit the Carolina Mudcats moniker.

Earlier Updates

  • Daytona (formerly the Cubs’ affiliate) has announced that it has reached a PDC with the Reds.
  • GM Jon Daniels says the Rangers will move their High-A affiliate from Myrtle Beach to High Desert, FOX Sports Southwest’s Anthony Andro tweets.
  • The Cubs announced that they will be moving their High-A affiliate from Daytona to Myrtle Beach (previously occupied by the Rangers).
  • The Indians announced that they will be moving their High-A affiliate from Carolina to Lynchburg (previously occupied by the Braves).


  • The Twins announced that they will be moving their Double-A affiliate from New Britain to Chattanooga (previously occupied by the Dodgers) after agreeing to a four-year term.
  • The Dodgers announced that they will be moving their Double-A affiliate from Chattanooga to Tulsa (previously occupied by the Rockies).
  • New Britain (formerly the Twins’ affiliate) has announced that that it has reached a PDC with the Rockies.


  • The Giants announced that they have reached a two-year PDC with Triple-A Sacramento (formerly occupied by the Athletics).
  • The Brewers announced that they have reached a two-year PDC with Triple-A Colorado Spring (formerly occupied by the Rockies)
  • Fresno (formerly the Giants’ affiliate) has announced that it has reached a PDC with the Astros.
  • The Athletics have announced that they will be moving their Triple-A affiliate from Sacramento to Nashville (previously occupied by the Brewers).
  • The Dodgers have announced that they will be moving their Triple-A affiliate from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City (previously occupied by the Astros).
  • The Rockies announced that they will be moving their Triple-A affiliate from Colorado Springs to Albuquerque (previously occupied by the Dodgers).
  • The Brewers have announced that their Triple-A affiliation with Nashville has been terminated by the Sounds.