- The Astros placed Jake Odorizzi on the 10-day injured list earlier this week due to a foot injury, and Odorizzi more directly described the issue to reporters (including The Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome) as “a mid-foot sprain.” The injury was caused by a “flukey” bad step that forced Odorizzi out of Monday’s game in the second inning. Fortunately, Odorizzi didn’t think the problem was serious, and the right-hander believes he’ll be able to return from the IL when first eligible on September 24.
- The Astros placed Michael Brantley on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to September 12, last night because of right knee soreness. The club didn’t provide any sort of timetable for his return, but there’s no indication it’s anything more than a precautionary absence. Houston holds a commanding seven game lead in the AL West thanks to recent scuffles by the A’s and Mariners, so there’s no reason to push one of their top performers before the start of the postseason. The ever-consistent Brantley is having another very good year, hitting .315/.367/.441 in 493 plate appearances.
The Astros are designating infielder Robel García for assignment, relays Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. Reliever Rafael Montero was also transferred from the 10-day to the 60-day injured list. The moves create a pair of vacancies on the 40-man roster needed to reinstate Taylor Jones and Andre Scrubb from the injured list (Jones from the COVID-19 IL, Scrubb from the 60-day version). Both Jones and Scrubb were optioned to Triple-A Sugar Land.
García has had one of the crazier career arcs of any player over the past few seasons. He spent a few years at the lowest levels of the Indians system but was released having topped out in Low-A. The Cubs spotted García playing professional ball in Italy a few years later and signed him to a minor league deal going into the 2019 season.
Assigned to Double-A, García mashed over the season’s first month before being bumped up to the minors’ top level. He popped 21 home runs in just 296 Triple-A plate appearances to earn his first big league call that July. The switch-hitting infielder hit another five homers in 80 trips to the plate at the big league level, but he also struck out 35 times.
Chicago designated García for assignment last July, and he spent the campaign at the Reds’ alternate training site after Cincinnati claimed him off waivers. He briefly landed with the Mets and Angels via waiver claim over the offseason and stuck with Houston after the Astros claimed him in February. He’s taken 117 plate appearances at the major league level this season, struggling to a .151/.216/.208 line with a huge 35.9% strikeout rate. The utilityman has had similar swing-and-miss issues in Triple-A, hitting .189/.321/.422 in 109 trips to the plate.
The Astros will now place García on outright or release waivers. His combination of power and ability to cover any position on the dirt has attracted the interest of a few teams around the league, although his continued strikeout problems have kept him from producing much to date at the big league level. García still has a minor league option year remaining after this season, so it’s possible a team could claim him and keep him in the system as high minors infield depth.
Houston acquired Montero alongside Kendall Graveman as part of a deadline deal with the Mariners. Montero had underperformed in Seattle and was included in the deal largely to offset salary. He performed well over his first four appearances with the Astros, tossing six innings of one-run ball. Unfortunately, right shoulder discomfort landed him on the IL just a couple weeks after the trade.
Today’s transfer rules Montero out for sixty days from August 10, the date of his initial IL placement. It’s theoretically possible he could make it back for a postseason run, but it seems more likely he won’t return this season. He’ll be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time of his career this offseason. If tendered a contract, he’d be in line for a slight raise on this season’s $2.25MM salary.
Scrubb returns for the first time since mid-July, when he landed on the IL with a shoulder strain. The 26-year-old has worked 19 2/3 frames of 5.03 ERA ball, striking out a decent 24.4% of batters faced but issuing walks at an alarming 16.3% clip. Jones, meanwhile, is back after missing a couple weeks upon testing positive for the coronavirus. He’s hitting .245/.269/.402 across 108 plate appearances.
- Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez is getting increased defensive reps in at first base and could begin seeing time there in games, manager Dusty Baker told reporters this week (link via Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle). Alvarez, 24, played some first base in the minors but hasn’t appeared there in the Majors yet. He’s only played 317 innings of defense since debuting in 2019 — all of which have come in left field. The ’Stros have Yuli Gurriel as their everyday option at first base, and his $8MM club option for the 2022 season is a no-brainer to be exercised after a terrific 2021 season. Still, getting Alvarez some work at first would provide a safety net should Gurriel need to miss time and would also give the Astros an option on days where they hope to rest Gurriel, who’ll turn 38 next June. Looking beyond the ’22 campaign, at which point Gurriel will be a free agent, it’d obviously be a bonus if the ’Stros felt comfortable playing Alvarez at first base on at least a part-time basis. Given the knee troubles he’s already had in his career, Alvarez might not be a full-time option either in left field or at first base for Houston, but the more ways they have to keep him and his outstanding career .293/.375/.584 batting line (906 plate appearances) in the lineup, the better.
The Astros have passed utilityman Jacob Wilson through outright waivers, relays Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. Houston needed to create a 40-man roster spot to activate Zack Greinke from the COVID-19 injured list, which they’re expected to do tomorrow.
Wilson joined the Astros on a waiver claim from the division rival A’s last month. He’s played in six big league games and has logged ten games with their top affiliate in Sugar Land. A longtime minor league veteran, Wilson made his big league debut with Oakland in July but has only picked up 21 plate appearances between the two stops. He’s spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A, where he’s hit .274/.365/.570 with fifteen home runs in 223 plate appearances.
Most of that production has come with the A’s highest affiliate in Las Vegas, one of the more hitter-friendly environments in affiliated ball. That’s no doubt aided Wilson’s production somewhat, but he’s generally been a quality offensive player regardless of the surroundings. The right-handed hitter has posted solid numbers throughout much of his minor league tenure, and he also hit .251/.351/.433 over 268 plate appearances with the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization in 2019. He’s also shown some amount of defensive flexibility, logging action at each of first, second and third base and in left field this year.
Wilson has never previously been outrighted, and he doesn’t have the requisite service time to elect free agency. He’ll stick around with Sugar Land and hope to play his way back onto the big league roster before the end of the season. If the Astros don’t reselect him to the majors, the 31-year-old will qualify for minor league free agency this offseason.
- After being placed on the Astros’ COVID-related injury list on August 31, Zack Greinke is scheduled to return and start on Tuesday when the Astros face the Rangers. Greinke, his wife, and his two sons all tested positive for the coronavirus despite being fully vaccinated, the right-hander told reporters (including The Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome), and all are now recovered. Greinke has a 3.66 ERA/4.55 SIERA over 159 2/3 innings this season, as one of the league’s best walk rates (5.0%) has helped Greinke succeed despite a 17% strikeout rate, his lowest K% since the 2005 season.
The Astros have selected the contract of Marwin Gonzalez, according to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. Josh James was optioned to make room on the active roster.
The Astros 40-man roster had a vacancy because Zack Greinke and Taylor Jones were recently placed on the COVID IL. Neither counts against the 40-man roster at this time. Gonzalez, and the recently-called-up Jose Siri, could potentially be considered COVID replacement players, which would mean they’d be able to be sent back down to Triple-A and removed from the 40-man roster without needing to pass through waivers.
Gonzalez was released by the Red Sox a few weeks ago after a disappointing season. In 77 games for Boston, he slashed .202/.281/.285, producing a wRC+ of 56, the second-lowest such mark of his career, behind only his 54 way back in 2013. The Astros added him on a minor league deal on August 27th. Gonzalez will now see if a return to the Houston organization can bring him back to something resembling the best stretch of his career, which came as an Astro from 2014 to 2018. Over those seasons, he hit .271/.328/.438, for a wRC+ of 111. Since the minor league deal was signed before the end of August, Gonzalez is eligible to play in the postseason for the Astros.
The Astros are set to select the contract of outfielder Jose Siri, tweets Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. Right-hander Bryan Abreu posted a video of Triple-A manager Mickey Storey telling the clubhouse that Siri was getting his first call to the big leagues. (Hector Gomez of ZSports 101 also tweeted the video.)
It’s been a long journey to The Show for the 26-year-old Siri, who initially signed with the Reds as a 17-year-old amateur out of his native Dominican Republic back in 2012. He’s grinded through parts of eight minor league seasons and may have thought his call to the big leagues would come a bit sooner than this, given that Cincinnati selected his contract to the 40-man roster back in November 2017 in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.
At that time, Siri was a 22-year-old who’d just wrapped up a brilliant season in Class-A, hitting .293/.341/.530 with 24 home runs, 24 doubles, 11 triples and a whopping 46 stolen bases. His bat took a step back in each of the next two seasons, however, particularly in 2019 when he hit just .186/.252/.245 in his first 30 games of Triple-A work. The Reds designated Siri for assignment in Jan. 2020 to make room on the roster for Nick Castellanos.
Siri wound up being claimed by the Mariners, but Seattle tried to pass him through waivers themselves early in Spring Training. The Giants then claimed him, but he was designated for assignment a second time in July once the league and the union had agreed on return-to-play conditions following the season stoppage due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Giants passed Siri through outright waivers successfully, and he elected free agency this past offseason, eventually settling on a minor league deal with Houston.
Any downturns in Siri’s production since that brilliant 2017 season look like a distant memory now, as he’s put together a monster season in Triple-A Sugar Land and demonstrated why multiple clubs wanted to give him a look on the 40-man roster at various points in the past year. He’s appeared in 93 games and tallied 393 plate appearances with a .321/.372/.559 batting line in that time. Siri has clubbed 16 home runs, 29 doubles and four triples while also going 24-for-27 in stolen-base attempts. He’s appeared at all three outfield positions but spent the bulk of his time this season in center field.
The Astros technically have a full 40-man roster, but they have a pair of players currently in Covid-19 protocols — Zack Greinke and Taylor Jones — so neither counts against the 40-man roster at this time. Siri could potentially be selected as a Covid replacement player, which would mean he’d be able to be sent back down to Triple-A and removed from the 40-man roster without needing to pass through waivers, although given his brilliant season in Triple-A it wouldn’t be a surprise if he were kept on the 40-man roster even once Greinke and Jones return.
The limit on active roster players expanded from 26 to 28 today, as the calendar flipped to September. Every team announced at least two additions to the big league club (some teams made three or more due to injured list placements). Here’s a recap of today’s spate of transactions:
- Angels: RHP Oliver Ortega (full post), INF Luis Rengifo. LHP Patrick Sandoval transferred to 60-day IL
- Astros: RHP Jose Urquidy (activated from 10-day IL), RHP Enoli Paredes
- Athletics: DH Khris Davis, C Austin Allen (full post)
- Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson, RHP Bryan Baker (full post)
- Braves: IF Orlando Arcia, RHP Jacob Webb
- Brewers: C Luke Maile, RHP Justin Topa, 1B Daniel Vogelbach (activated from 60-day IL). C Manny Pina placed on 10-day IL, LHP Angel Perdomo transferred to 60-day IL
- Cardinals: RHP Brandon Dickson (full post), C Ali Sanchez. RHP Ryan Helsley transferred to 60-day IL
- Cubs: RHP Adbert Alzolay (activated from 10-day IL), Dillon Maples (activated from 10-day IL)
- Diamondbacks: RHP Luke Weaver (activated from 60-day IL), OF Stuart Fairchild
- Dodgers: UTIL Zach McKinstry, RHP Ryan Meisinger. IF Sheldon Neuse, OF Luke Raley transferred to 60-day IL
- Giants: LHP Caleb Baragar, IF Thairo Estrada, RHP John Brebbia. RHP Johnny Cueto placed on 10-day IL
- Indians: RHP Triston McKenzie (activated from 10-day IL), OF Harold Ramirez (activated from 10-day IL)
- Mariners: LHP Justus Sheffield (activated from 10-day IL), IF Kevin Padlo
- Marlins: LHP Trevor Rogers (activated from restricted list), IF Joe Panik (activated from COVID-19)
- Mets: OF Albert Almora Jr., OF Khalil Lee
- Nationals: LHP Alberto Baldonado (full post), C Alex Avila (activated from 10-day IL)
- Orioles: RHP Dusten Knight, LHP Alexander Wells
- Padres: RHP Dinelson Lamet (activated from 10-day IL), RHP Taylor Williams (activated from 60-day IL). LHP Matt Strahm transferred to 60-day IL
- Phillies: RHP Cam Bedrosian, RHP Ramon Rosso (full post). 1B Rhys Hoskins transferred to 60-day IL, shortstop Didi Gregorius placed on restricted list
- Pirates: RHP Shelby Miller (full post), RHP Max Kranick
- Rangers: LHP Hyeon-jong Yang, IF Charlie Culberson (activated from COVID-19 IL), RHP Kohei Arihara (activated from 60-day IL). INF Ryan Dorow — originally selected as a COVID replacement — removed from 40-man roster and returned to Triple-A
- Rays: RHP David Robertson (full post), SS Taylor Walls
- Red Sox: RHP John Schreiber (full post), INF Jack Lopez, UTIL Danny Santana (activated from 10-day IL), RHP Ryan Brasier (activated from 60-day IL). SS Xander Bogaerts, IF Yairo Munoz placed on COVID-19 IL
- Reds: OF Delino DeShields Jr. (full post), INF Alejo Lopez
- Rockies: RHPs Antonio Santos, Justin Lawrence, Julian Fernandez (full post). Jon Gray placed on injured list
- Royals: RHP Jackson Kowar, SS Adalberto Mondesi (activated from 10-day IL), LHP Jake Brentz (activated from 10-day IL). RHP Jakob Junis placed on 10-day IL
- Tigers: RHP Wily Peralta (activated from 10-day IL), INF Niko Goodrum (activated from 10-day IL)
- Twins: RHP Randy Dobnak (activated from 60-day IL), RHP Joe Ryan (full post). RHP Kenta Maeda transferred to 60-day injured list
- White Sox: RHP Matt Foster, 1B/OF Gavin Sheets, INF/OF Romy Gonzalez (full post). Jake Lamb designated for assignment (full post), Tim Anderson placed on injured list
- Yankees: OF Estevan Florial, RHP Brooks Kriske
The Astros announced they’ve signed catcher Drew Butera to a minor league contract. He’ll be assigned to Triple-A Sugar Land. Butera had been in the Angels’ organization but was released today, setting the stage for this new opportunity.
Butera provides some security for a Houston club that lost fellow catcher Jason Castro to the 10-day injured list last week. Martín Maldonado and Garrett Stubbs are the only other backstops on the 40-man roster. Adding Butera — a respected veteran presence and well-regarded defender — to the high minors offers some additional cover in case Castro doesn’t make it back to the field in the near future.
While Butera saw brief big league time with the Angels this year, he’s spent much of the campaign at Triple-A. The right-handed hitter has posted a .222/.328/.354 line in that hitter-friendly environment. Of course, Butera has never been known for his offense. The 38-year-old owns a career .196/.252/.290 slash over parts of twelve seasons in the majors.
It’s no coincidence the AL West-leading Astros added Butera tonight. Signing him before September 1 means he’ll be eligible for Houston’s postseason roster. For now, he’ll hang around in the high minors as an insurance option. Butera will reach free agency at the end of the season.