Did the Astros float a Rule V trial balloon?
The Houston Astros for the second year in a row adds a player(s) to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule V draft after the initial announcements of who they were adding. Earlier in the day, it was announced that Joseph Musgrove, David Paulino, Jandel Gustave, Juan Minaya, and Alfredo Gonzalez. There were several good players left off the roster, with several players that I wrote about earlier that the Astros should keep. Some players were left off with one roster spot remaining, there was some support for various players who were left off, but two players seemed to get the most support.
These two players were Nolan Fontana and Andrew Aplin with Chris Devenski getting some support as well. For the second year a row, the Astros add to their roster right before the deadline, like they did last year when they added Michael Feliz. This year they added both Aplin and Fontana while designating L.J. Hoes for assignment to open one more roster spot. Last season, following adding Feliz, Luhnow was accused of being wishy-washy. However, was not adding Feliz to the 40-man roster a carefully organized strategic move to test public opinion?
This idea was floated out by Baseball America’s J.J. Copper following the announcement that both Aplin and Fontana was added. He said that “the Astros are the ‘float a trial balloon’ and see 40-man roster adders.” Does this mean what I think it means?
Does Jeff Luhnow pick x amount of players that he is sure about protecting, then release that list. Then they scour social media to interpret the fans and experts reactions to who was not kept, and then make their final selections?
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This can’t be true, right? To be the best General Manager, you have to be the smartest person in the room. The Astros have done a good job filling the front office with baseball nerds and scouts, so why would they need help? They were just sending the balloon out to test the turbulence if a particular player was not protected.
Let me present another side of this argument, could the Astros be floating the names out to see how much interest there is from other teams. They are not looking at whether they should protect them, but rather who is most likely to be selected in the Rule V draft. Luhnow is showing his hand, to try to see if he can get other teams to show theirs. Last year he gambled that no one would keep DeSheilds because of his low on-base skills, he got outplayed that one time.
This strategy could also be used to see what other players are available, so they know which position is more abundant in the draft, and bank on the fact that there might be better options that their guys, which is why they left them unprotected. There could be many reasons why, but the fact is that the Astros have stocked up their pantry so much, that it is overflowing with talent.
Now that the roster is back up to 40, the next question is who will be leaving when the Astros need space for a free-agent signing? I have some ideas, but the Astros will lose 2-3 of their Rule V eligible prospects.