Astros: 3 players in contention for Kent Emanuel’s 40-man spot

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The injury bug lurks and has taken down another promising arm for the Houston Astros. In relation to Justin Verlander and Forrest Whitley, Kent Emanuel is now the third 40-man roster pitcher to undergo elbow surgery, but Emanuel avoids Tommy John surgery, in the past year.

While making a big splash after being activated from the restricted list, Emanuel made his name known and broke down his anger behind his suspension. The left-hander will be out the remainder of the season, but could return to “full game competition in approximately nine months.”

While Kent Emanuel will be out for an extended period of time, the Astros will have an open 40-man spot, if they move him to the 60-day IL.

The 40-man roster is full, and we know Whitley isn’t moving off it due to the fact it starts his major-league service clock. Although Emanuel has been shut down, he will have to stay on the roster until the Astros figure out who they are replacing him with. The move doesn’t have to be made immediately, but let’s take a look at a few options.

Pedro Baez, RHP

Available relievers have been hard to come by for the Astros in the past two seasons, so handing Pedro Baez a short-term deal made sense. Although on the 60-day injured list, the right-hander is pitching on flat ground in West Palm Beach, Fla.

While being one of the slowest pitchers to the plate, Baez can help revive the backend of the bullpen with his higher-leverage arm. His return hasn’t been set, but if the Astros were to activate him in the coming months, this would make sense. A positive COVID-19 test and a shoulder injury have paused Baez’s progressions to his Astros’ debut, but as an experienced arm, Houston will need him come October.

Josh James, RHP

On the other hand, the Astros could look to activate Josh James from the 60-day IL that is retroactive to the start of the season. This means James would be available to be activated whenever he is ready.

Not many fans have shown likeness for James, but the right-hander can go longer relief outings for the Astros. James has also started six games in his three-year career, so there is value if his command shakes out.

James is another pitcher without a timetable set, but general manager James Click said that the right-hander is “a couple weeks away from being active at the major league level.” This return could most likely happen in June.

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Jose Siri, outfielder

The 40-man roster isn’t home to any minor-league outfield options in case of injury, but with Aledmys Diaz, Robel Garcia, Yordan Alvarez and Garret Stubbs being options for outfield depth behind the current four, there might not be a reason to add another. Jose Siri has been a big topic of discussion in recent weeks, and even with his success in Triple-A, the reasons circling him not being called up aren’t because of service time.

The right-hander has bounced around in the minor leagues due to a lack of plate discipline, but with a recent surge in power, Siri has been making noise. He was signed at 25-years-old in December of 2020, as a possible option. At this point, why not let him test the major leagues just to see?

The Astros wouldn’t have much to lose, as Siri is just looking to keep his career alive. Plate discipline is still not among his strong suits, so that might be holding back his progressions to the show. If they look to another slugging outfielder, Ronnie Dawson has been stellar.

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While pitching looks to be the best replacement on the roster, minor-league arms or a trade could help fill the void. The front office has shut down any trade talks at the moment, as they look to in-house talent. The case stands that minor leaguers like Shawn Dubin and Brett Conine could still be possibilities.

The Astros assigned Francis Martes to Triple-A, while the right-hander is eligible for reinstatement on June 19. For a pitcher who hasn’t thrown at the major-league level since 2017, it will be interesting to see if he sticks around, since he would have to join the 40-man roster. The new Taxi Squad contains catcher Michael Papierski and right-handed pitcher Peter Solomon.