Astros: 2 Veteran Utility Players worth a Minor-League Deal

(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /
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Many Major League Baseball teams extend minor-league deals to major-league players, as they near spring training. For the Houston Astros, they did something similar with outfielder Steven Souza Jr. in 2021, as they looked for outfield depth.

Souza was released during spring training, after not excelling at the plate. Even though he was trying to add a first base glove to his versatility, the Astros leaned on in-house talent like Chas McCormick at the start of the season.

Without a Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams cannot sign players to major-league deals, but they can extend minor-league deals to players. The Astros could do a similar thing, but attack infield depth this offseason.

There are names on the market that would make a difference as a starter, but it doesn’t hurt to have experienced depth heading into spring training. It also doesn’t hurt to sign said depth to minor-league deals and evaluate their status in March to see if they can contribute efficiently at the major-league level again.

The Astros could sign experienced infield depth to a minor-league deal, so here are two options worth a look.

The Astros could lean on Jeremy Pena at the end of the day, while he could start the 2022 season as infield depth. But at the of the day, it doesn’t hurt to have options going into the regular season.

Two names that come to mind are Matt Carpenter and Marwin Gonzalez, two versatile infielders who can play some outfield when needed.

Carpenter is a Texas native and a former Texas Christian Horned Frog looking for a new teams after saying goodbye to the St. Louis Cardinals this past year.

Carpenter caught 130 games of action with the Cardinals in 2022 at a variety of positions. The 36-year-old hit to a career-low OPS of .581 this past year, as he still hopes to play in the major leagues in 2022.

For Gonzalez, it made sense to bring in his experience at the end of the season, but he didn’t add much to resume in the month of September. His numbers have been on a decline since his career-year in 2017, while a signing of $1 million wouldn’t hurt the payroll at all.

These are two low-cost, high-reward options, if the Astros look to sign veteran infield depth this offseason. If they do take this route and add a veteran infielder, they have all of spring training to evaluate the player and see if they want to add him to the 40-man roster or not.

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