The Houston Astros added a high-leverage reliever on Saturday in Hector Neris, and while we wait for the deal to become official, the 40-man roster holds one spot for two signings. The other, of course, is Justin Verlander, who re-signed with the ball club over a week ago.
There has been no report on why Verlander’s signing hasn’t processed just yet, but after trading Garrett Stubbs to the Philadelphia Phillies, it looked evident that Verlander would take his spot. Now, the Astros will need to free open another roster spot, when Neris’ signing is finalized.
How will the Astros open a 40-man roster spot for Hector Neris?
The Astros have a few routes they can take to open a roster spot for Neris. And with the date for teams to tender arbitration contracts to players approaching, the Astros have a few choices to make on that front.
Will the Astros non-tender a contract to an arbitration eligible player?
The Astros have six candidates for arbitration contracts: Rafael Montero, Aledmys Diaz, Phil Maton, Josh James, Ryne Stanek and Framber Valdez. Diaz, Maton, Stanek and Valdez will all receive contract offers from the Astros due to their value to the ball club.
The case could be different for Montero and James. Montero had a season-ending injury a few outings after being a throw-in from Seattle, but during the postseason, the Astros didn’t move on from him and continued you his rehab with a hope of being a contributor late into October.
That never came to be, but the Astros seem to like the right-hander and what he could bring in relief depth. Montero is projected to make $3 million, which seems like a slight stretch of salary, while he was recently designated for assignment by his former team.
For James, he is projected less than $1 million, but the right-hander could have trade value with his spin rate and velocity. Injury plagued his 2021 season, while he never slipped into a regular role at the major-league level, but James has the stuff to keep around and work with.
Will the Astros designate a pitcher for assignment or look to trade a player?
There are a few fringe relievers in Enoli Paredes, Andre Scrubb and Seth Martinez on the roster that could be in line to be outrighted off it, but also a pitcher like Jairo Solis, who is coming off his second Tommy John surgery and hasn’t pitched past High-A.
Solis would be unlikely claimed in the Rule 5 Draft this season and could be a similar case to Freudis Nova, while not being claimed off waivers. With a few players on the brink of being removed, the Astros could always trade an arm for a prospect as their way to open a roster spot, especially something in the realm of Triple-A infield depth.
The 40-man roster would likely see another change before the non-tender deadline of Nov. 30, which was moved up from Dec. 2. This was likely in part to the current Competitive Balance Agreement expiring on Dec. 1.
But in the end, the Astros’ safest route would be either trading a reliever or outrighting Solis off the roster, while he might not be eyed as valuable by other franchises.