Who did the Astros protect from the Rule 5 Draft with their 40-man roster moves?
The deadline to protect prospects from the Rule 5 Draft has come and gone for the Houston Astros, after 5 p.m. on Friday. The ball club selected the minor-league contracts of four prospects: Jeremy Pena, Shawn Dubin, Jonathan Bermudez and Joe Perez.
Pena was a lock for the 40-man roster, as Dubin was likely the first pitcher to be added as well, but the Astros chose to protect four prospects this year. The left-handed Bermudez was the Astros’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year, as the 26-year-old reached Triple-A for the first time this past season.
For Perez, the infielder made a big jump into the Astros Top 10 prospects rankings by MLB Pipeline. The 22-year-old could be minor-league infield depth soon, as he looks to reach Triple-A with departures of key infielders from last season.
"“I received a surreal phone call today from the Astros,” Perez told me on Friday after having his contract selected. “All of the work i’ve put in daily over the last few years is finally showing. Definitely motivated more than ever and can’t wait to pick up next year where I left off in 2021.”"
Who is no longer on the Astros’ 40-man roster?
Before the Astros selected four contracts, the 40-man roster was at 38. Houston looked to outright infielder Freudis Nova and pitcher Kent Emanuel off the roster to the minor leagues through waivers.
It worked for Nova, who was protected last season from the Rule 5 Draft, as he is recovering from knee surgery and has yet to play past High-A. The transaction page states that he was outrighted to Triple-A Sugar Land, but with his inexperience, he would likely be reassigned at a later date, if he isn’t taken in the Rule 5 this season.
Emanuel was claimed by the Philadelphia Phillies, which ends his romantic story in Houston. After wearing the No. 0, representing the amount of games he believed he should’ve been suspended, the left-hander had an 8.2-inning debut in relief. A couple appearances later, his elbow gave out on him, ending his year with surgery.
Bermudez likely replaces Emanuel’s left-handed role on the roster. He is three years younger than the new Phillie and is more likely to be a starting pitcher.
After all the dust had settled with Rule 5 protection, the Astros traded Garrett Stubbs to the Phillies for minor-league outfielder Logan Cerny. This trade benefits both parties, as Stubbs had remained as the third catcher in Houston, but now, he can be the everyday backup in Philadelphia.
Cerny was drafted this past season in the 10th Round of the MLB Draft by the Phillies, which was three selections before the Astros’ pick. Houston took a different college outfielder in Michael Sandle.
With the FCL Phillies not playing the FCL Astros (Rookie Affiliate), the Astros likely had an eye on Cerny before the draft. Cerny ended his ’21 season in Low-A Clearwater, who doesn’t play Houston’s Low-A affiliate.
What does the Astros 40-man roster look like now?
Cerny won’t affect the roster for awhile, if he continues to progress through the system, but it does leave the roster with one spot unfilled. This is where Justin Verlander slides into to fill the 40-man roster, while his signing hasn’t become official by the team yet.
This is similar to 2020, when Houston re-signed Michael Brantley and traded Cionel Perez to Cincinnati for minor-league catcher Luke Berryhill, who became the Astros’ Minor League Player of the Year.
The Rule 5 Draft is Dec. 8. While the Astros can still fill their roster by adding Verlander, they can’t add any prospects for protection.