The Houston Astros are missing some notable faces from last year’s squad.
Departures are inevitable in the modern free agency era. Whether it be for actual performance issues or salary justification, teams often feel compelled to shake things up. But sometimes change is good, especially for a Houston Astros franchise that is looking to strengthen a potential contender in the American League.
LHP Scott Kazmir; signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers
1B/DH Chris Carter; signed with the Milwaukee Brewers
INF Jed Lowrie; traded to the Oakland Athletics
C Hank Conger; traded to the Tampa Bay Rays
INF Jonathan Villar; traded to the Milwaukee Brewers
RHP Chad Qualls; signed with the Colorado Rockies
LHP Joe Thatcher; signed with the Cleveland Indians
LHP Oliver Perez; signed with the Washington Nationals
There were some notable subtractions from the roster this offseason. For example, the Astros traded Jed Lowrie to the Oakland Athletics…for a second time. Even though the team picked up a promising relief prospect in Brendan McCurry, the trade of Lowrie-to-Oakland appears to be more of a salary dump as he had 2-years, $14 million left on his current contract. The same could be said of letting powerful first baseman Chris Carter loose by not tendering him a contract for 2016. Both developments were not surprising when you consider the salary committed to the pair when compared to expected performance.
The same could be said of the Astros ending the Hank Conger experience after just one season as the team’s backup catcher. Let’s just say something about not throwing out would be base stealers appears to be the primary reason that his baseball residence is now in Tampa, FL than Houston, TX. Jonathan Villar now finds himself in Milwaukee, and like Carter, is part of the Astros North brigade. With Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve entrenched in the middle infield, it was just time to move on.
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The most notable subtraction (in my eyes, anway) was the loss of Scott Kazmir. This is mainly owed to the fact that the Astros traded two promising prospects in Jacob Nottingham and Daniel Mengden to Oakland to acquire the Houston native. And while Kazmir managed to put together some solid outings as an Astro, he also struggled as the season wore on (2-6, 4.17 ERA/1.39 WHIP in 13 starts with Houston). In other words, it just didn’t work out.
None of the players that the Astros let go off this offseason should haunt them as far as on-field performance is concerned. The team appears to have multiple prospects lined up to fill the vacancies at some point or another. In fact, actual performance from certain positions like first base may actually improve with new players. However, I should caution that this may alter the dynamics of the clubhouse; to what extent though remains to be seen. And chemistry is definitely important in a major league clubhouse.
Overall, the Astros cut ties with plenty of players that we as fans have grown accustomed to. It can be argued that some of the decisions were based on performance or salary, but when it is time to move on, it is simply time to move on. As much as we anticipated a reload for 2016, sometimes that reload means cutting ties with players who no longer fit an organization’s needs. This most recent offseason for the Astros just reenforces that notion.
**Statistics provided by MLB.com**