Houston Astros: Bold prediction, Tyler White makes OD roster


Could Tyler White be the Houston Astros First Baseman?

With the Houston Astros trade of Jed Lowrie back to the Oakland Athletics, the Astros now have an open spot on the 40-man roster. With the emergence of Carlos Correa at shortstop, Lowrie made the move to third base but lost playing time in the playoffs to Luis Valbuena. The Astros dealt from their area of strength which is the quantity of options at first and third base. Lowrie is a veteran who still has plenty of ability, but he wouldn’t have the chance to play every day with the Astros.

Following the trade, a potential non-tender candidate Valbuena stands to gain the most with the Lowrie trade. He is handed back the keys to third base for now as he is guaranteed to receive a contract for 2016. With Valbuena most likely the starter at third, that leaves a battle between Chris Carter, Jon Singleton, Matt Duffy, Tyler White, and A.J. Reed for first base.

The Carter decision is the biggest one of the offseason, do the Astros tender him a contract before December 2, or do they cut ties with the gentle giant? According to Evan Drellich, “There’s Chris Carter, who’s arbitration eligible and as strong a non-tender candidate as the Astros have.” Why is he so likely to be non-tendered? Following a breakout 2014, Carter fell back to earth in 2015 hitting .199/ 24 homers/ 64 RBIs. He was benched for an extended time, then returned to a regular role when Marwin Gonzalez hurt his hand and couldn’t swing left-handed.

Carter is due to make approximately $5.6 million in 2016 according to MLBTR arbitration tracker. If, and it is a big if, Carter is non-tendered or traded, there would be a big opening at first base. Valbuena would be manning third base, so Duffy, Singleton, and White will be fighting for the first base job. I am the biggest Reed fan, I got him to autograph a bat at a Hooks game, but it’s not the Astros mo for him to start with the team. The Astros will most likely take two of the three with them to spring training.

Which two, I am not sure? I am making a bold prediction that White will make the opening day roster for the Astros and will be given the shot at being the starter. Unlike Reed, White is not guaranteed a successful career. He was drafted in the 33nd round of the 2013 MLB draft. He has not let his draft status define the player he is. Instead, he has sought to be the best player he can.

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While he is not the slugger that Reed is projected to be, he does offer a potential of a Freddie Freeman type of player who drives in 100 runs while only hitting 15 homers. With playing in Triple-A and the playoffs games there following winning the Double-A home run derby, White appears to be major league ready. White is also playing Dominican Winter Ball, which could be the Astros way of getting White major league ready quicker.

Let’s look at White’s stats from MLB.com.

29 games/ .287/ 5 homers/ 19 RBI/ .917 OPS/ 26 strikeouts in 108 plate appearances.

I interviewed White here, and I am working on an updated interview right now. What I do know is that plans of him becoming a catcher have been scratched so he can focus on his hitting, according to Evan Drellich. He has played some games at first but has primarily been the designated hitter for the Estrellas.

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I think the pecking order at first base should Carter not be on the team is; White, Duffy, Singleton, and then Reed if those three don’t pan out. Reed is the future at first base, but they will want to try out their other options first at first. However, I wouldn’t rule out Reed being opening day first base; it depends on who has the best spring training. It’s hard to root against any of these guys, but it’s good to have options.