Houston Astros announce 56-man player pool for 2020 season

Dusty Baker, left, and new Houston Astros general manager James Click take questions from the media at Minute Maid Park on February 04, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Dusty Baker, left, and new Houston Astros general manager James Click take questions from the media at Minute Maid Park on February 04, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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The Houston Astros announced their 56-man player pool for the 2020 season.

As expected, the Houston Astros announced their player pool on Sunday afternoon shortly after the deadline for teams to submit their pools to the league. This is the list of players who’ll be eligible to play for the team this season, though the hope is that they won’t all be needed.

The player pools can consist of as many as 60 players, but the Astros only named 56. According to GM James Click, this is to give the team some flexibility to add players later on, as apparently “it’s easier to add players than take them off.

Teams will start the season with 30-man rosters, and that number will shrink to 28 after two weeks and 26 after four weeks. The players not on the roster will remain in the player pool, and the team can “call them up” to replace players who hit the Injured List or the special COVID-19 Injured List. A “taxi squad” of up to three players can travel with the team on the road to be easily called up if needed.

These 56 players will likely be split between two sites in camp, with the majority (and the likeliest to make the roster) training at Minute Maid Park and the remaining players training at the University of Houston baseball facilities, which the Astros will be using as an alternate site. The team has yet to announce which players will train at which location.

Breaking Down The Roster

All but one of the team’s 40-man roster is in the player pool, with left-hander Kent Emanuel being the only one not included. Notably, top prospect Forrest Whitley is included in the pool, so it’s entirely possible we could see him this season if he’s needed.

Of the team’s Top 30 prospects, 16 are in the player pool. Most of those are players who’ve played at Double-A or Triple-A, thus being prospects who are farther along developmentally and more ready to contribute. Those recently drafted, including catcher Korey Lee and outfielder Colin Barber, did not make the pool.

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The players who are already on the 40-man roster are the most likely to make the actual roster this season. The remaining players are available if needed, but of course the Astros will hope things don’t get to that point. We just don’t know how this season is going to progress.

The remaining four spots are to add additional players if the need arises or to account for any signings or trade acquisitions. As we noted earlier, it’s easier to add players to the 60-man pool than it is to remove them, and removing them is not ideal in most scenarios.

A player who’s on the 40-man roster would be exposed to waivers if he’s taken off the 60-man pool. A player who isn’t on the 40-man roster would have to be released in order to be taken off the 60-man pool. Given that, teams won’t want to take anyone off unless absolutely necessary.

If a player goes on the COVID-19 Injured List, he does not count against the 60-man pool. However, if the team adds a player to replace him, that player is subject to the removal rule when the initial player returns from the IL. The only exception is if there is an outbreak (three or more players testing positive), in which case the release/waiver rule would not apply.

Hopefully the team won’t need more than 56 different players on the active roster over the course of the season, in which case this issue won’t crop up. But don’t worry, Astros fans. All your favorite players are there, so here’s hoping we’ll get to see them on the field.

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