One Minor-League Signing the Astros Should Have Made

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

Without a Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Houston Astros among all Major League Baseball teams cannot sign major-league contracts. An exclusion was that of Justin Verlander, whose deal needed some adjustments in the eyes of the commissioner and was finalized during the lockout.

The Astros have retained two minor-league players that elected free agency this offseason in Nolan Riggs and Jon Olczak, while signing a few international prospects to the DSL Astros. But, one player explored new opportunities, and that is right-hander Michael Kelly.

The Astros should have re-signed Michael Kelly to a minor-league contract.

On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Phillies signed Kelly to a minor-league contract, after he spent one season in the Astros’ system. Kelly signed a minor-league deal with Houston in May of 2021, while he started his season in Double-A Corpus Christi and finished his year in Triple-A Sugar Land.

Kelly pitched only 5.1-relief innings with the Hooks, before being promoted to the Skeeters in early June. The right-hander continued his best minor-league season to date with a 2.82 ERA and a 10.7 strikeout per nine (career-high) innings in 44.2 Triple-A innings. Kelly was touching 99 MPH on his fastball with the Skeeters, too.

The journeyman reliever made his return to a major-league organization with the Astros, after playing independent baseball in 2019 and being away from the game in 2020. The former first-round pick spent his first seven professional seasons in the systems of the San Diego Padres and the Baltimore Orioles.

Kelly’s career-year of 2021 could have been a fluke, or his independent journey and year off were advanced his comeback. But at the end of the day, it would have behooved Houston to have made room this offseason and retained Kelly for emergency depth, going into the 2022 season.

The 29-year-old had a subpar career before landing in the Astros’ system but has since rejuvenated it. Kelly could make a case for his major-league debut in the Phillies’ organization in 2022.

“I coached Michael when he was a travel player in Florida,” former coach Carey Copeland said. “Glad he’s keeping the dream alive.”

Next. Astros Lose Baseball Operations Hand to the Orioles. dark

On Thursday, Apollo Dez of Apollo Media reported that former Skeeters’ infielder C.J. Hinojosa had signed a minor-league deal with the San Diego Padres. Dez, of course, broke his signing with the Astros last offseason.

Hinojosa slashed to a career-high OPS of .831, while being selected as a Triple-A West All-Star. The infielder never got a major-league shot in his one year with the organization, but at 27-years-old, he could have a chance in San Diego.