It was reported today that the Oakland A’s claimed Astros’ first baseman Nate Freiman off of waivers. Houston selected Freiman from the San Diego Padres in the second round of the Rule-5 Draft, following the 2012 season. The 26-year old mountain of a man was going to be a longshot to make the team thanks to the amount of depth at the 1B/DH spots, as well as the fact that he has not spent time above Double-A.
Nate Freiman was having a nice spring for the Astros prior to being placed on waivers, posting a .278 average with one homerun and seven RBIs in his 36 at-bats. He was competing for time with Brett Wallace, free-agent signee Carlos Pena, recently acquired Chris Carter and 1B/3B Brandon Laird. For the Astros to keep the rights to Freiman, they would have had to keep him on the 25-man roster for the entire season or try to work out a trade with the Padres. Brian Smith of the Houston Chronicle tweeted that “Jeff Luhnow had tried to work out a deal with the Padres for Freiman but nothing came to fruition.”
In Greg Thurston’s recent Climbing Tal’s Hill article on the Oakland A’s Season Preview, Joseph Lopez of the Swinging A’s voiced his displeasure with losing Chris Carter to the Astros because the “two-headed monster” of Carter and Brandon Moss was so effective for Oakland in 2012. By the A’s adding the right-handed, power bat of Freiman, that gives them the potential to have a new version of a two-headed monster. Oakland will be in the same situation that the Astros were in however, in that they will have to keep him on their 25-man roster or offer him back to the Padres.
It appears that the Astros’ 1st Round pick in the Rule-5 Draft, Josh Fields, will be safe. Jeff Luhnow told MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart that “It’s a little easier [to keep a Rule-5 pick that is a] relief pitcher than it is with a position player.” The right-handed reliever has had a strong spring, appearing in 9 games with a 3.12 ERA in 8.2 innings, and could end up being a late-inning reliever by the end of the season.
The Astros do still have some tough decisions left to make on the 25-man roster. Luhnow has mentioned having to make decisions on Brandon Laird, as well as outfielders Brandon Barnes and J.D. Martinez. You should expect for some other moves to be coming shortly.