The Astros announced another round of cuts today, trimming their roster to 39. Paul Clemens, Robbie Grossman, Dallas Keuchel, Jimmy Paredes, and Jonathan Villar were all optioned to minor league camp. Grossman got off to a hot start this spring but has cooled off lately. Keuchel didn’t pitch well enough to stay in the battle for a rotation spot and Paredes needs to get more outfield experience under his belt at the minor league level.
Sergio Escalona, C.J. Fick, and Che-Hsuan Lin were also reassigned to minor league camp. All three have previously cleared waivers and should stay with the organization. Catcher Carlos Perez and reliever Josh Zeid were also reassigned. Neither is subject to being claimed by another team. No real surprises among this group — any of the first three could be called upon if an injury creates an opening, whereas Perez and Zeid remain in the Astros’ long term plans.
Jonathan Villar (Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports)
G.M. Jeff Luhnow told Astros beat writer Brian McTaggart:
"A lot of these guys we’re sending out today have a bright future in our organization, and they know they’ll be back. They need to go down and get regular work and go to their respective Minor League locations and show us what they can do. We know the 25 we start with are not the 25 we’re going to have all year."
All of these demotions were pretty easy decisions to make. The tough part comes later when the team has to make decisions on other players who are out of minor league options. Rule 5 draftee Nate Freiman remains with the team for now. It will be tough to keep him on the roster all season, so look for the Astros to try and engineer a trade with the Padres so Freiman can be sent to the minors. Josh Fields, also a Rule 5 pick, looks to have a better chance at sticking.
Chris Carter, Tyler Greene, Lucas Harrell, Philip Humber, Fernando Martinez, and Justin Maxwell are all out of minor league options and are pretty much locks to be on the Opening Day roster. Guys like Rick Ankiel, Erik Bedard, Trevor Crowe, and Edgar Gonzalez aren’t on the 40-man roster and could become Free Agents if the don’t make the team.