Astros: Chris Devenski’s future in question after surgery

Chris Devenski’s future with the Houston Astros is in question after his elbow surgery.

Chris Devenski was probably going to be in a precarious position this offseason regardless of his health, but now his health has added another wrinkle to that. The Astros announced that the pitcher underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow Tuesday to remove a bone spur. This news puts his future in Houston in some serious doubt.

The good news is the recovery time is expected to be four months, which would mean he should be ready for Spring Training. But whether he’ll report to Spring Training with the Astros is another matter entirely, and that’s a decision the front office will have to make this winter.

Picked up as a player to be named later in the 2012 Brett Myers trade, Devenski was once one of the game’s best relievers, but the past three years have not been kind to him. He struggled mightily in the 2017 postseason and hasn’t been the same since, posting ERAs of 4.18 and 4.83 in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

He’s made only four appearances in 2020 due to elbow problems, and he allowed six earned runs in 3.2 innings. Now that his season is over, and knowing that he’ll turn 30 in November, the Astros will have to decide whether to tender him a contract for 2021. At this point, I would lean toward thinking that won’t happen.

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Devenski On The Outs

The Astros can control him for 2021 via arbitration before he reaches free agency next winter, but they may not want to. Devenski is earning the prorated portion of $2 million this year, and even with his limited and poor showing this year, he’s going to get at least the same salary for 2021 if the team keeps him.

The Astros are going to have to make some additions to their pitching staff this winter, specifically in the bullpen, which has struggled this year. Roberto Osuna could be on the way out as well, so they may need to sign multiple relievers. Their budget isn’t unlimited, so committing around $2 million to Devenski may not be the wisest allocation of those resources.

It’s possible they could non-tender him and then re-sign him, of course, but another team might be willing to offer more, betting on the upside of a post-surgery bounceback. Maybe a change of scenery would do him some good.

At any rate, I doubt the Astros will commit that kind of money to him, at least not unless the front office is convinced he’ll revert back to the 2016-2017 Devenski after this procedure. If the team does tender him a contract, there will be plenty of unhappy fans voicing their displeasure in GM James Click’s decisions.

So it’s entirely possible we’ve seen the last of Devenski in an Astros uniform. It’s a shame, as he looked for all the world like an ace reliever at the beginning of his career. Unfortunately things haven’t worked out that way, no matter how much we all wish they would have.