The Astros have released lefty Neal Cotts, the club announced. Cotts was in camp on a minor league deal that contained an opt-out for March 26 if he wasn’t on Houston’s MLB roster.
The release is something of an unfortunate birthday present for Cotts, who turns 36 today, though he still has over a week to try and catch on with another club prior to Opening Day. The 10-year veteran posted a 3.41 ERA, 8.2 K/9 and 2.64 K/BB rate over 63 1/3 innings with the Brewers and Twins last season, holding left-handed batters to just a .186/.243/.330 slash line. Cotts has very even lefty/righty splits over his career, though right-handed hit him hard (.867 OPS) in 2015.
Houston also optioned left-hander Kevin Chapman to the minors, so with Chapman and Cotts out of the picture, it’s possible Tony Sipp may be the only southpaw in the Astros bullpen. As Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets, veteran lefty Wandy Rodriguez still has a chance at the last open spot in the pen, competing with righty Dan Straily.