The Yakult Swallows if Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball have signed their second former big leaguer in as many days, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that they’ve agreed to terms with now-former Astros right-hander Cy Sneed (Twitter link). Yakult agreed to terms with former Pirates corner infielder/outfielder Jose Osuna earlier in the week.
Sneed, 28, came to the Astros organization in the 2015 trade that sent Jonathan Villar to the Brewers. He went on to make his Major League debut in 2019 and, over the course of the past two seasons, has logged 38 2/3 innings for Houston. It hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for the 2014 third-rounder, however, as he’s been tagged for a 5.59 ERA and a 4.78 FIP with a 44-to-15 K/BB ratio and a hefty eight home runs allowed in that limited sample of work.
Sneed averages 93.5 mph on his heater and has complemented that pitch with a changeup, curveball and split-finger, though he largely scrapped the splitter in 2020. While he’s struggled in the Majors, he’s had some success in Triple-A. After a dismal Triple-A debut in 2017, Sneed turned in 127 innings of 3.83 ERA/3.89 FIP ball in an extremely hitter-friendly setting with the Astros’ Fresno affiliate in the Pacific Coast League in 2018. He put up similar numbers in 2019 when Houston’s Triple-A club moved to Round Rock in 2019.
Houston has yet to formally announce Sneed’s release, though that formality is likely the final step in the process. The Swallows will likely pay some compensation to the Astros in order to release Sneed, who’ll surely get a larger guarantee to pitch in NPB next year than he’d have received as an up-and-down, pre-arbitration member of the Astros’ staff in 2021. The Astros’ 40-man roster now drops to a count of 38 players.