The Astros have designated minor league first baseman AJ Reed for assignment in order to open a 40-man roster spot for right-hander Jose Urquidy, the team announced to reporters (Twitter link via Jake Kaplan of The Athletic).
Reed, 26, once rated among the game’s top 20 prospects, per Baseball America, but simply hasn’t panned out as the organization hoped. He’s hit just .153/.253/.244 and punched out 50 times in 150 Major League plate appearances, and while he has solid overall numbers in Triple-A, this year’s .224/.329/.469 line has been underwhelming. Reed’s strikeout rate has jumped 23.7 percent in 2018 to 29.8 percent in 2019, but he’s still walking at the same strong 12 percent clip he’s managed in each of his three prior seasons in Triple-A.
Houston will have a week to trade Reed or attempt to pass him through outright waivers, although given his former prospect pedigree, it seems likely that he’d be claimed. A team like the Tigers, Royals, White Sox, Marlins, Mariners or Blue Jays would have little to lose by picking up Reed and giving him a look in the Majors down the stretch in 2019. The Orioles are stuck with Chris Davis’ contract at first base but could still give Reed a look between first and the DH slot; general manager Mike Elias was Houston’s scouting director when Reed was taken in the second round of the 2014 draft.
Reed is in his final option year, so beginning in 2020, he won’t be able to be sent to the minors without first clearing waivers. But for the time being, any team that does pick him up would be able to freely send him back and forth between Triple-A and the Majors.