The Astros will designate second baseman/outfielder Tony Kemp for assignment tomorrow in order to open a roster spot for Carlos Correa, Jake Kaplan of The Athletic tweets. Correa is set to return from the 60-day injured list after missing two months due to a broke rib.
Entering the season, the roster status of Kemp and Tyler White were both in question. Both players are out of minor league options and were rumored to be possible trade candidates as a result, but Houston opted to carry each on the roster for the first two thirds of the season. White, however, was designated for assignment recently and is reportedly headed to the Dodgers in a trade. Kemp, too, will lose his roster spot and now seems a logical candidate to be included in a trade for pitching help in the next six days.
Kemp, 27, has turned in a .227/.308/.417 batting line with seven homers, six doubles, two triples and four stolen bases in 186 trips to the plate so far in 2019. He’s a relatively high-contact hitter (career 16 percent strikeout rate) with a bit of speed and pop who is capable of handling second base and left field. His lack of minor league options may limit his appeal among some contending clubs, but the fact that he’s controlled for another four seasons will surely hold appeal to rebuilding clubs. It’s also possible that a contending team such as the Cubs, who are looking for a contact-oriented bat and recently optioned Addison Russell, could be intrigued by Kemp’s skill set.
The decision to cut ties with Kemp is seemingly a vote of confidence in the younger Myles Straw, who can occupy a similar role with a similar skill set moving forward. Straw has batted .256/.376/.321 in 94 plate appearances with the Astros this season and is capable of playing shortstop, second base or the outfield. Unlike Kemp, he also has minor league options remaining, which gives the Astros some additional roster fluidity down the stretch. Houston’s ability to manipulate its roster has been somewhat limited this season by virtue of carrying a pair of out-of-options players, but that won’t be the case any longer.
The return of Correa, of course, is a major boon to a lineup that already ranks as one of the game’s most fearsome. The former No. 1 overall draft pick was excelling to the tune of a .295/.360/.547 batting line and 11 home runs through 214 plate appearances at the time he suffered one of the most bizarre injuries of any player in recent memory. Correa sustained a broken rib while receiving a massage at his home, and the injury ultimately cost him 50 games of his season.