Astros Roster: Will there be a spot for Preston Tucker?

Aug 17, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros outfielder Preston Tucker against the Tampa Bay Rays at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 17, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros outfielder Preston Tucker against the Tampa Bay Rays at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Previewing the Houston Astros roster decisions for 2016

The Houston Astros made a bold move offering the qualifying offer for Colby Rasmus for a one-year deal worth $16.8 million for 2016. When they did that, it took them out of the running for some of the big name outfielders such as Alex Gordon, Justin Upton, or Jason Heyward to name a few. They also added a huge chunk of salary that could have been used to upgrade a different position. However, the biggest outcome from re-signing Rasmus could have cost Preston Tucker a place on the Astros roster.

Tucker was a big part of the Astros success last season filling in for George Springer until the Astros traded for Carlos Gomez at the trade deadline. After the Gomez trade, Tucker lost some playing time but was able to get the occasional starts. When Springer returned from his broken wrist, Tucker became the fifth guy in the outfield rotation. Marwin Gonzalez even got some time in left field towards the end of the year to get his bat into the lineup, and Tucker was struggling at the plate.

Recently, Tucker was recently on Talking Stros, which is an Astros radio show that I have started with my co-host Brandon DelCastillo on KTXF-db. You can read or listen to the interview here: Houston Astros: Talking Stros with Preston Tucker (interview). We asked Tucker how he felt when he heard that Rasmus accepted the offer to return, here was his response, “I was excited, obviously, that did shake things up for me, but Colby is a great guy. Colby is a good friend of mine and was a mentor to me throughout the season. It was weird, though, it kind of left my future a little uncertain. I don’t know if I’m going to be with the Astros in Spring Training, don’t know what type of role I will have.”

“I don’t know if I’m going to be with the Astros in Spring Training, don’t know what type of role I will have.” – Preston Tucker.

Tucker is a smart guy, and he will work hard this spring training to earn a spot on the roster. He is a true competitor, and he will not be satisfied if he is not on the Astros roster come opening day. However, he knows that is part of baseball, and there may not always be a spot for you on the team. I can imagine Tucker sitting down with pen and paper and designing a whole lost of 25-man Astros rosters trying to figure out what the most likely scenario.

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The Astros have no plans on making Tucker a first baseman, as they have multiple options at that position like there is in the outfield. There are two roster decisions that the Astros will have to make that will have a direct impact on if Tucker makes the opening day roster. Let’s take a look at those two decisions.

Who’s on first?

The Astros have proclaimed that the first base job is Jon Singleton‘s to lose. If this was two years ago, Astros fans would be leaping for joy that their emerging slugger would be given a chance to be the everyday guy at first. However, Singleton has been unable to perform well in his stints with the Astros in 2014-15. The Astros extended him prior to him ever seeing a big league pitch, which has not turned out well for the Astros. The Astros will want to see what they have in Singleton before handing the keys over to super prospect A.J. Reed in May or June.

With Singleton being an unproven player right now, the Astros might be forced to carry an additional infielder on the roster in Tyler White or Matt Duffy on the roster. If this is the case with the elite defender in the outfield in Jake Marisnick and Gonzalez able to play the outfield, this will leave no room for the fan favorite Tucker.

Is 12 enough pitchers?

For most of the 2015 season, the Astros liked to carry that extra pitcher in the bullpen or the long reliever type of guys. The bullpen now appears full with Ken Giles, Tony Sipp, Luke Gregerson, Josh Fields, Will Harris, and Pat Neshek. Then the Astros need to consider either a long man in Michael Feliz or Scott Feldman, whoever doesn’t win the fifth spot in the rotation. However, we also do not have a second lefty in the bullpen instead of a long reliever, but the only guy who appears ready is Kevin Chapman, who struggles with wildness. Whether or not they carry the 13th pitcher will also have a big hand in what happens to Tucker.

Tucker admittedly struggled down the stretch and got out of the rhythm at the plate towards the end of the season. He also has tried to improve himself in the outfield so that he is not a liability in the field. Maybe it would be good for Tucker to get some time in Triple-A to start the season to regain his swing and confidence he had in when he made his debut with Houston last year. This will also give some of the roster time to shake out some of the weak links.

Singleton could have struggled causing White to take over first base, and then Tucker could replace Singleton on the roster as a power bat off the bench. Evan Gattis could also continue to struggle at the plate to the point where Tucker can get some reps at DH versus when the matchups favor him. There is also a strong possibility that either Tucker or Marisnick could be traded between sometime now and the beginning of the season.

Next: Houston Astros: Talking Stros with Jon Kemmer (Interview)

There are too many ifs to consider right now, and that’s without even looking at any players stats in the post. This will be a decision that many fans will keep a close eye on, and I will ask Evan Drellich when he joins Talking Stros on Tuesday at 2-A-Days-Sports-Bar from 7 to 9 PM CST what he thinks of the roster.