Houston Astros starter Scott Feldman‘s 2015 season ended in September with a shoulder injury. The 32-year-old has one more year on his contract with Houston, however, his future as an Astro could be in doubt with young guns like Vincent Velasquez, Michael Feliz, and others making their case for a roster spot.
The question is, should Feldman take a roster place in 2016 when there are so many young, talented pitchers waiting for their chance? Feldman’s numbers in three seasons as an Astro are less than impressive, especially considering he is in the top two in salary, yet much further down the list in terms of productivity.
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With some injuries this season, he was limited to 108 innings over 18 starts. His 5-5, 3.90 record in 2015 gives him a two-year Astros total of 13-17, and a 3.80 ERA in 288.2 innings. He has allowed 300 hits, with a 1.306 WHIP, walked 77 and struck out 168. His WAR of 3.4 (in two Houston seasons) is considerably less than what Baseball-Reference.com considers All-Star quality (5+). We should expect more from a starting pitcher who is among the highest paid players on the Astros. It is possible that Feldman would fare better in an injury free season, however, his career statistics are unimpressive: 64-73, 4.42 ERA in 281 career games, including 178 starts and four complete games. (- via Baseball-Reference.com.)
Feldman made $12 million in 2014, his first year with Houston, then $10 million in 2015, and will make $8 million in 2016. He was the highest paid player on the team until the acquisition of pitcher Scott Kazmir ($13 million, according to ESPN.) Can the Astros afford to wait for Feldman to produce, considering his uninspiring pitching numbers versus his high salary?
Houston has several pitchers at Triple-A and Double-A that have shown they are ready to take over places on the Astros Major League roster. Velasquez and Feliz are already on the 40-man roster but have not yet been given extended opportunities as starters to show what they can do. Others that have been with the Astros for brief periods include Brett Oberholtzer, Dan Straily, and Asher Wojciechowski.
Can the Astros even find a trade partner willing to take on the final $8 million year of Feldman’s contract? That is unlikely, and it may be necessary for Houston to pay part of that money in a deal with another club.
Houston fans surely appreciate the good things that Feldman has done for the Astros. Those fans will appreciate even more the chance to see homegrown talent such as Velasquez, Feliz, Musgrove, Appel, and others have their big league chance. As mentioned in Does Chris Carter Have A Future With the Astros?, it is time to cut the ties and move out big salaries that aren’t producing as expected.
Scott Feldman may be on his way elsewhere for next season, opening a roster spot for a deserving young pitcher.