Houston Astros Rumors

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

Placed On Revocable Waivers: Sunday

Bartolo Colon is reportedly on revocable waivers at the moment (his waiver period expires tomorrow), but he is of course just one of many names to be in that situation. We’ll keep track of the players that are reported to be on revocable waivers today in this post…

  • Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons reports that the Astros placed Scott Feldman and Chad Qualls on revocable waivers yesterday, meaning their waiver periods will expire tomorrow (Twitter link). The Angels and Tigers will both monitor the situation, he notes, referring to Anaheim’s need for rotation help and Detroit’s bullpen needs. Feldman is owed roughly $22.4MM through 2016 as part of a front-loaded three-year, $30MM pact. He’s posted a 4.37 ERA with 5.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 44.9 percent ground-ball rate this season. His salary commitment, like Cahill, gives him a realistic chance of falling to the Angels, in my view.
  • Qualls has been excellent out of the Houston bullpen, notching a 3.07 ERA with 7.8 K/9, 1.0 BB/9 and a 56.7 percent ground-ball rate in 44 innings this year. He’s owed about $3.78MM through 2015 on his current contract. That sum includes the remainder of this season’s $2.7MM salary, next year’s $3MM guarantee and the $250K buyout on a $3.5MM option for the 2016 season.

Earlier Updates

  • The Diamondbacks appear to be putting a large chunk of their roster through waivers this weekend, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that Trevor Cahill, Oliver Perez, Cliff Pennington, Addison Reed and Brad Ziegler are all on revocable waivers. At first glance, Cahill would appear to be a sure thing to clear, given his $12MM salary in 2015 and the fact that he already cleared outright waivers earlier this year after struggling. However, Cahill has a 3.43 ERA in 42 innings since returning from Triple-A, and it’s fair to speculate about an injury-ravaged team like the Angels placing a claim with the hopes that he can sustain the turnaround. Cahill is guaranteed about $13.7MM through the end of the 2015 season, but his contract also contains a pair of reasonable club options (reasonable, of course, assuming he is effective). His team can exercise a $13MM option ($300K buyout) for 2016 and a $13.5MM option ($500K buyout) for 2017.
  • As Rosenthal notes, virtually every reliever being placed on waivers is being claimed. Even non-contending clubs could look to claim any of Arizona’s three relief arms known to be on waivers, as each is controlled beyond 2014. Perez will probably generate the most interest given his strong results and the modest $2.8MM remaining on his deal. Reed’s save totals will inflate his price tag in arbitration, while the D’Backs have reportedly shown no interest in parting with Ziegler all summer.
  • Teams may be wary of claiming Pennington, who is owed $639K through season’s end, due to his injury troubles in 2014 and his history of modest offensive contributions. He’s arb-eligible following the season, but he’s a non-tender candidate after earning $3.25MM this season.

For a more complete explanation of how revocable trade waivers and August trades work, check out MLBTR’s August Trades primer. You can also check out MLBTR’s list of players that have cleared revocable waivers to see who is eligible to be traded to any team.


West Notes: Dodgers, Aiken, Padres, Posey, Angels

The Dodgers will change their Triple-A affiliation from Albuquerque to the Oklahoma City RedHawks next season, Michael Baldwin of the Oklahoman reports. Oklahoma City is currently affiliated with the Astros. Mandalay Baseball Properties will reportedly sell the RedHawks to a group tied to the Dodgers for a sum in the $22MM to $28MM range. Baldwin writes that the Dodgers are trying to get out of Albuquerque, a difficult environment in which to evaluate prospects because its park is so favorable to hitters. The move is part of what could be a big shakeup in the Pacific Coast League, with the Athletics also moving from Sacramento to Nashville (currently a Brewers affiliate) and the Giants moving from Fresno to Sacramento. It’s unclear where the Astros and Brewers will end up in such a scenario. Here’s more from the West divisions.

  • Brady Aiken may have selected a junior college after being selected first overall and then going unsigned in a dispute with the Astros, MLB.com’s Jim Callis tweets. Aiken could end up at Yavapai JC in Arizona, which has helped develop future big-leaguers like Curt Schilling, Kole Calhoun, Bob Milacki, Billy Hatcher and Kyle Blanks.
  • Carlos Quentin is likely “on his way out” with the Padres, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes in a recent chat. Quentin is under contract for $8MM in 2015, but the Padres likely won’t want to keep him, given his struggles to stay healthy. (What they might do with him is a different question — it’s hard to imagine Quentin having much trade value, given that he’s hit poorly in limited action this season.) Seth Smith and Rymer Liriano are the only near-locks for spots in the San Diego outfield next year, Lin writes.
  • With Andrew Susac emerging as a potential starting option at catcher and Buster Posey showing signs of wear, the Giants might consider moving Posey to a new position in the future, Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News writes. The Giants have no plans to move Posey at this time, however. If Posey does eventually move, he will probably move to first base.
  • With Garrett Richards out for the rest of the season, the Angels will presumably be looking for pitching, and Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com has a list of pitchers who might be available. Given the obstacles to making August trades, perhaps it’s no surprise that it isn’t an incredibly inspiring list, with some of the better options possibly being either unwilling to play for the Angels (A.J. Burnett, who can block trades to West Coast teams) or unlikely to make it all the way to them on waivers (Mat Latos).

AL West Notes: Angels, Feldman, A’s, Cano

The Angels have had a run of terrible luck in the second half, losing both Tyler Skaggs (Tommy John surgery) and Garrett Richards (torn left patellar tendon) for the remainder of the 2014 season (Skaggs will miss most or all of 2015 as well). Following the news of Richards’ diagnosis yesterday, GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters he would be on the lookout for further pitching help. As quoted by MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter links): “Between now and Sept. 1, we’ll try to be as open as we can be. And after Sept. 1, hopefully what we’re missing in Garrett Richards we’re able to somewhat make up for in volume and depth.”

Here’s the latest on Anaheim’s search for pitching and other Angels-related matters…

  • The Angels have been connected to Bartolo Colon in the wake of these injuries, but Peter Gammons reports (Twitter links) that he’s heard Astros right-hander Scott Feldman‘s name in connection with the Halos as well. However, neither right-hander had been put on waivers as of earlier this morning, and Gammons notes that it might be difficult for the Angels to land a pitcher on waivers because, as one baseball source explained to him, the Orioles and Yankees “are claiming everyone.”
  • Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times looks at the diverse background of educations in the Athletics‘ front office and how those varying personalities fuel the team’s analytical approaches. Baxter spoke with assistant GMs David Forst and Farhan Zaidi for the piece, with Zaidi noting: “It cultivates a lot of debate in our office, just having diverse educational backgrounds and having people that aren’t necessarily guys who have spent their whole careers in the industry … As a group we are less prone to just let assumptions stand and let opinions go unopposed.”
  • Robinson Cano is hitting .329/.397/.469 and has been worth five-plus wins above replacement this season, but Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times writes that his on-field work isn’t the only way he contributes to the Mariners. Divish spoke with skipper Lloyd McClendon and outfielder Dustin Ackley about Cano’s positive and relaxed personality and the impact that his demeanor has on the team.


AL West Notes: Richards, Altuve, Athletics

Angels pitcher Garrett Richards suffered what appeared to be a significant knee injury while trying to make a play at first in the second inning of a game against the Red Sox Wednesday. He fell while still running to first and spent several minutes on the ground in obvious pain before being removed on a stretcher. There’s no word yet on the severity of the injury (which the Angels described as a “left knee/patellar injury“) but if it’s as serious as it appears to be, it would be a big blow to the Angels. Entering tonight’s game, Richards had posted a 2.53 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 167 innings this season, and the Angels are currently fighting the Athletics for first place in the AL West. Here are more notes from the division.

  • Diminutive Astros star Jose Altuve has made it big despite his size, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. “He’s an anomaly,” says Astros assistant GM David Stearns. “He’s tough to explain, other than the fact he works as hard or harder than anyone, he’s got freakish hand-eye skills, he loves baseball and he wants to be great.” History indicates that Altuve is, in fact, very unusual, Kepner writes — there isn’t anyone in the Hall of Fame listed at 5-foot-6 or shorter who debuted in the Majors since the early 1940s. Altuve signed for just $15K as an amateur out of Venezuela.
  • The Athletics have struggled since their surprising trade of Yoenis Cespedes and a draft pick for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes, John Branch of the New York Times notes. It’s not clear that the trade is to blame, however. “We were struggling some before the trade as well, and we haven’t been as good offensively as we have been for the better part of a season,” says manager Bob Melvin. “But I expect us to get much better offensively because we still do have a very deep lineup.”

Grievance Against Astros Focused On Nix, Not Aiken

Last month, the Major League Baseball Players Association filed a grievance against the Astros regarding their practices in this year’s draft, but while previous reports indicated that the grievance pertained to both No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken and fifth-round selection Jacob Nix, the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich hears from a pair of sources that the grievance is focused on Nix rather than Aiken.

This doesn’t preclude a grievance being filed for Aiken as well, but Aiken’s case is weaker than that of Nix. Aiken’s physical revealed an abnormality in his ulnar collateral ligament — it was, reportedly, smaller than that of a standard UCL — which led the Astros to attempt to reduce his signing bonus from $6.5MM to $5MM. The two sides were unable to reach an agreement, which therefore caused the Astros to lose the entirety of Aiken’s $7.9MM draft slot from their bonus pool.

As such, Houston could not afford to go significantly over slot to sign Nix, the team’s fifth-round selection. That wouldn’t have been a problem were it not for the fact that Nix had already taken a physical and reached a reported verbal agreement on a $1.5MM bonus. When Aiken’s deal fell through, the Astros allegedly backed out of their deal with Nix, creating a great deal of scrutiny from the public, Nix’s camp and the MLBPA.

According to Drellich’s sources, Nix’s grievance will not be addressed until the offseason. His grievance is one of many grievances — nearly all of which go unreported — on a backlog that need to be addressed. The two sides could reach a monetary settlement to avoid bringing the case before an arbiter, but should the case reach arbitration, it would be to determine whether or not the Astros are required to honor their $1.5MM agreement and give Nix a contract. That scenario could have significant ramifications for the Astros, as that bonus would catapult them well beyond their allotted bonus pool. Without Aiken’s $7,922,100 bonus slot, the Astros’ bonus pool shrinks to $5,440,100. As such, Nix’s $1.5MM bonus — which is $1,129,500 above his slot’s $370,500 value — would put the Astros 20.7 percent above their total bonus pool. Such a stark overage would result in not only a 100 percent tax on said overage, but also the loss of a first-round pick in each of the two upcoming drafts.

As for Aiken, a grievance can still be filed. As Drellich notes, the collective bargaining agreement stipulates that a grievance must be filed within 45 days of the offense, meaning that Aiken’s camp could push for a grievance anytime between now and Sept. 1. That’s not a firm deadline, however, as Drellich’s sources indicate that extensions can be granted.


AL West Notes: Altuve, Morales, A’s, Jackson

Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is just 5’6″, but he doesn’t allow his height, or lack thereof, to be a disadvantage, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times.  “He’s an anomaly,” said David Stearns, the Astros’ assistant GM. “He’s tough to explain, other than the fact he works as hard or harder than anyone, he’s got freakish hand-eye skills, he loves baseball and he wants to be great.”  More out of the AL West..

  • Bob Dutton of The Tacoma News Tribune (on Twitter) believes that the Mariners have interest in keeping Kendrys Morales beyond this season but, of course, it’ll depend on the price.  The M’s acquired Morales from the Twins in exchange for right-hander Stephen Pryor late last month.  Morales batted just .234/.259/.325 for Minnesota and has slashed .207/.280/.329 for Seattle across 22 games.
  • As commissioner Bud Selig makes his farewell tour, he readily admits that he wishes the A’s stadium situation would be resolved and over with, writes Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com.  “One of the reasons for the resurgence of this sport are the new stadiums, there’s no question about it,” Selig said. “I know better than anybody (that the A’s need a new stadium). It was and is complicated. I know people don’t understand that, but it is. And if it was easy, just like if it was easy in Tampa, I’d have been 24 out of 24. But I have hopes in both places. Do I wish it’d been solved? Of course I do. I wish it had.
  • Who’s the best corner outfield prospect in baseball?  Jim Callis of MLB.com says that distinction belongs to Alex Jackson, whom the Mariners selected with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 draft.  Jackson was the consensus top position prospect in his class and received the third-highest draft bonus of anyone this year.  He’s got company at the top, however.  MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo says the Pirates’ Josh Bell is the game’s best corner outfield prospect.

Quick Hits: Harvey, Rodon, Dodgers, Astros

After going through a number of difficult times with MLB, Rob Manfred is more than ready to take over as commissioner, writes Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer. Manfred started working for MLB as an outside counsel in 1994, so he definitely knows what a crisis situation is all about.  More from around baseball..

  • In a radio interview last week, Matt Harvey reiterated that he is eager to get back to action for the Mets and said he is throwing in the mid-90s in his sessions. Later, manager Terry Collins got in touch with the star hurler. And I explained to him, I understand that,” Collins said of Harvey’s desire to get back to pitching, according to Newsday’s Marc Carig. “But the process is right now, you’ve got to understand it’s the big picture, and the big picture is 2015. So back off.” 
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post explores why the Mets and Cubs, who seem perfectly suited to swing a trade (pitching for a shortstop), have yet to take the leap. A NL executive tells Sherman the Mets “don’t make a lot of trades and that is because they really don’t like to give up what they perceive as their big talent, unless they can convince you to give them $2 for their 35 cents.
  • White Sox manager Robin Ventura told reporters, including MLB.com’s Scott Merkin, he will consider promoting Carlos Rodon (the third overall selection in this year’s draft) when the rosters expand in September. “If he’s doing well enough to come up here, yeah,” Ventura said. “If he’s available and he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go. I would like to see it but he’s got to be ready to go.” Rodon, who is not on the White Sox’s 40-man roster, was promoted to Triple-A yesterday.
  • Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) if the club can “find a reliever that can help us late in the games we will consider it.”
  • The Astros have decisions to make on a pair of injured right-handed relievers, reports MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Matt Albers (out since April with shoulder tendinitis) has a 2015 club option and Jesse Crain (who has been sidelined since undergoing surgery for biceps tendinitis last October) signed a one-year deal in January and Astros GM Jeff Luhnow would like to see them pitch this season before deciding their fates. “It would be nice to have those two guys in the bullpen in September to help us win some games.” said Luhnow. “I’m sure they want to do that as well so they can establish something going into next year.” 

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Quick Hits: Bailey, Wada, Astros

Yankees manager Joe Girardi says reliever Andrew Bailey has had “setbacks” after his 2013 labrum injury and will not return this season, NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty tweets. The former Athletics closer and Red Sox reliever has not appeared in the big leagues since the middle of that 2013 season, and hasn’t pitched competitively for the Yankees since they signed him to a minor league deal in February. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • Tsuyoshi Wada could be emerging as an option for the Cubs‘ 2015 rotation, Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com writes. The 34-year-old has spent most of the season at Triple-A Iowa, but he’s performed well in six starts with the Cubs, with a 3.15 ERA, 7.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 so far. After signing him to a minor league deal in the offseason, the Cubs released Wada in March and then signed him to another minor league deal that includes a 2015 option. The Cubs do have a variety of interesting rotation options for 2015 (particularly since adding Dan Straily and Jacob Turner), however, and they appear likely to hunt for a starter this offseason, so much remains to be determined.
  • Astros owner Jim Crane is happy that there’s a new plan to remove Comcast SportsNet Houston from bankruptcy, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. Under the plan, the name of the channel would change to ROOT Sports Houston, and Comcast’s partnership with the Astros and Rockets would convert into a new entity owned by DirecTV Sports Networks and AT&T. The new deal will help the Astros financially, and will also enable their games to be broadcast. “[O]ur fans will get to see the games and we can move on with our lives,” says Crane. The new company could be in place by as soon as early October.

Quick Hits: Upton, Martin, Giants, Astros

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported over the weekend that the Braves explored a trade prior to the deadline that would’ve sent B.J. Upton and a starting pitcher elsewhere.  David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link) has another detail on this scuttled trade, saying that the Braves would’ve taken on “a contract [the] other team [was] looking to shed.”  It sounds like it would’ve essentially been a swap of one bad contract (the roughly $50MM owed to Upton through 2017) for another, though if Atlanta was willing to move a starter as well, the other contract was likely for a shorter term.  It’ll be interesting to see if the identities of the mystery team and mystery player are revealed in the coming weeks or months but until then, let the guessing game begin!

Here’s some more from around the baseball world…

  • Russell Martin‘s plan to take a short-term contract and rebuild his value for a richer, longer-term deal seems to have paid off, MLB.com’s Tom Singer and Stephen Pianovich write.  Martin has a .743 OPS over his two seasons with the Pirates and is hitting .290/.417/.391 over 308 PA this year, which makes him easily the most attractive catcher available in this winter’s free agent market.  Martin says he loves playing in Pittsburgh, though Singer/Pianovich note that the Bucs are unlikely to be able to afford his asking price and prospect Tony Sanchez is waiting in the wings.
  • The 2015 Giants could be improved by moving Buster Posey to third base and Tim Lincecum to the bullpen, Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News opines.  Lincecum’s value as a starter is diminishing but (as the 2012 postseason indicated) he could be a dominant force as a reliever or closer.  If Pablo Sandoval leaves in free agency, Kawakami argues that Posey could slide to third in order to help him stay healthy and perhaps lead to more production at the plate.  Posey already plays a lot of first base and Kawakami doesn’t mention another possibility I think the Giants could consider, which is trading Brandon Belt.
  • Speaking of next year’s Giants team, CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly points out that at least $125MM is already committed to a roster that still has a big hole to address at second base and five key free agents (Sandoval, Michael Morse, Sergio Romo, Ryan Vogelsong, Jake Peavy) to re-sign or replace.  With payroll stretched so thin both this season and next, Baggarly says the team simply doesn’t have the resources to explore replacing struggling players like Lincecum or Brandon Crawford.
  • The Astros could return to respectability by adding a few veteran players in an attempt to follow the model of the 2003 Tigers, Grantland’s Jonah Keri opines.  Those Tigers responded to an infamous 119-loss season by signing veteran free agents over the next few years, who mixed well with a young core and led the team to an AL pennant by 2006.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Tigers, Lester, Front Offices

The Tigers have “kicked around” the idea of trading for a hitter to bolster the back end of their lineup, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports in his latest Full Count video.  Finding a quality bat will be more difficult in the August waiver period, of course, and there also isn’t any position that Detroit would clearly be looking to upgrade.  Rosenthal says the team is “pretty much set in the outfield,” though I’d argue that adding another outfielder to complement or even replace J.D. Martinez or Rajai Davis (both of whom were originally acquired to be part-timers) would help the Tigers down the stretch.

Here’s some more from Rosenthal’s video and a separate piece that examines which managers and general managers could be on the hot seat…

  • Some of Jon Lester‘s former teammates believe the southpaw will sign with the Cubs this offseason.  Lester, of course, has ties to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, and the Cubs’ recent waiver claim of Cole Hamels indicates that the team is prepared to spend big money on a top-tier starting pitcher.
  • Had the Padres hired Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, the return of Kevin Towers to the San Diego organization “would’ve been almost automatic.”  (The two worked together in New York.)  Between Tony La Russa’s hiring in Arizona and the firing of Josh Byrnes in San Diego, rumors have swirled for weeks that Towers would find himself back with the Friars given his friendship with Padres president/CEO Mike Dee.  As Rosenthal notes, Towers could still return under new GM A.J. Preller, though rival executives are split as to whether Towers’ presence would be a positive or a negative for Preller as a first-time general manager.
  • Bud Black “would be out of work for about five minutes” if Preller decided to make a managerial change.  Mike Dee recently told Rosenthal that Preller would decide on Black’s future with the Padres, though the fact that Black’s removal was “never seriously considered” by upper management would seem to bode well for the long-time skipper.
  • While Reds GM Walt Jocketty is in the final year of his contract, “there is no indication that Jocketty wants to leave, or that owner Bob Castellini wants him out.”  Rosenthal speculates that a reunion between Jocketty and La Russa in Arizona could be a possibility, though Jocketty might prefer to stay with the contending Reds rather than face a rebuilding job with the D’Backs.
  • Ruben Amaro’s future as the Phillies‘ GM has been in question given the team’s struggles, which could also mean that manager Ryne Sandberg’s continued employment could also be up in the air.  The Hall-of-Famer has “at times looks overmatched, struggling in his communications with veterans and with his in-game management,” Rosenthal writes, though he points out that Sandberg hasn’t been given much to work with on the roster.  Sandberg is under contract through the end of the 2016 season.
  • Could Jeff Luhnow’s job actually be in jeopardy?  Rosenthal isn’t sure, though he notes that “internal tension seems unavoidable” in Houston.  The Astros have seen little improvement on the field this season and Luhnow’s front office was widely criticized for its handling of the Brady Aiken negotiations.
  • Mike Maddux’s Rangers contract is up at the end of the season, and while extension talks probably won’t take place until then, both Maddux and the team seem eager to see the long-time pitching coach remain in Texas.