Over the past week, the Houston Astros have designated three pitchers for assignment. This was in part to bring in new players to the 40-man roster, along with activating Josh James from the injured list. Although Ralph Garza Jr. and Nivaldo Rodriguez have minor-league options, their roster spots were needed for pitchers with higher ceilings.
These two are now exposed to waivers, leaving them vulnerable of being snatched by other teams across the league. If they clear waivers, they will be outrighted to Triple-A Sugar Land, but with Ryan Hartman being claimed after his DFA, the chances are slim that the Astros retain both Garza Jr. and Rodriguez.
In response to an already full 40-man roster, the Astros will need to designate another player for assignment for Pedro Baez to join the team for the first time this season. While his fastball velocity was down in the lower 90s, general manager James Click has pointed to his return during the next homestand.
With an already full 40-man roster, Pedro Baez’s return will require a corresponding move, but who is on the hot seat?
Before diving into three options to be DFA’d, there could be some untouchables on the roster. Three pitchers that won’t make another impact this season are Forrest Whitley, Jairo Solis and Tyler Ivey. These three won’t be DFA’d, but adding them to the 60-day IL would pay them as major-leaguers and start their service clock.
This isn’t ideal for the current and future status of the team, so we are getting into an area where a recent contributor this season could be exposed to waivers. For those wondering about Freudis Nova, the infielder is protected by being on the 40-man and shouldn’t be removed, even with his minor-league struggles.
While the outfield and infield can’t take a blow to DFA, I don’t see how Robel Garcia is given the boot. Alex Bregman’s status hasn’t been updated, and with Taylor Jones as the only minor-league infielder at disposal, it doesn’t seem plausible at a roster outlook to DFA Garcia; same goes for Garrett Stubbs.
Enoli Paredes, RHP
While this looks outlandish to some, Paredes could be an odd man out in the Astros’ plan. The right-hander became a fan favorite as a fiery contributor during the 2020 postseason, but his ’21 campaign has been hit with injuries and command inconsistences.
Paredes has posted a 4.00 ERA over nine innings in Triple-A this season in response to his 6.23 ERA over 8.2 innings in the majors. While given a few opportunities, the right-hander has also been sidelined by two injuries and would be a hard sell to DFA.
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Rafael Montero, RHP
Although being a recent acquisition from Seattle, Montero has already been DFA’d once this season by his former employer. On Sunday, the right-hander did toss 1.1-scoreless innings with a punch out, as the Astros are seeing what they can get in the aging hurler.
Without minor-league options, Montero doesn’t have a strong case with his recent track record, but if the Astros find something in him, he will stick around. I just don’t see a throw in being a key piece to the bullpen down the stretch, but there could be another reason why the Astros took him on.
Andre Scrubb, RHP
While another key contributor during the ’20 season and a close member to the Astros’ clubhouse, Scrubb hasn’t built an impressive ’21 major-league resume. The right-hander is another hurler that was bit by the injury bug, who has posted a 5.03 ERA in the majors compared to his 1.35 ERA in Triple-A.
Of the three provided, Scrubb should be the last to go, as he is command away from being a high-leverage arm. This won’t come to him overnight, and while on the 10-day injured list, he isn’t providing much to anything at the moment. Scrubb has the movement to be a reliever for a long time, but without a timetable on his return, we don’t know what his next step is.
Some fans have campaigned for Brooks Raley, who is the only other lefty reliever on the 40-man roster besides Blake Taylor. If his struggles are something that proves the front office has seen enough, then he’s gone, even though I don’t truly agree with it.
Jose Urquidy still hasn’t started his rehab assignment and with Bregman’s status up in the air, one of these two could be 60-day patients for the time being, which would be retroactive to their last appearances.