As an Astros fan, it's hard to be upset after the club agreed to terms with arguably the best reliever in the game. But when you see one of your own land in the Bronx, it sticks in your craw(ford boxes) just a little bit, doesn't it?
After the Houston Astros signed Josh Hader to a five-year, $95 million contract earlier this month, it became necessary for the front office to remove a player from the team's 40-man roster. At the time of the Hader deal, Houston's roster was maxed out, so a corresponding move was necessary.
The Astros decided to designate fellow left-handed reliever Matt Gage for assignment. Once a player is DFA'd, MLB rules allow for opposing teams to acquire said player through waivers. And guess who decided to take advantage of that situation? That's right, the New York Yankees.
Yankees swipe hard-throwing reliever, Matt Gage, from Astros after Josh Hader roster crunch
To the shock of absolutely no one, the Yankees decided to exploit Houston's roster crunch and eliminate any chance of a potential reunion between Gage and the Astros. If the southpaw passed through waivers, the Astros could have attempted to re-sign Gage to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training next month. But alas, that's no longer possible, as the lefty will now be at the Yankees' spring training facility in Tampa.
To be fair, if given the choice between Josh Hader and Matt Gage, the Houston faithful would've taken the five-time All-Star every day of the week and twice on Sunday. But having that added depth within the minor leagues would've been a nice complement to the active roster. Gage has just 16 major league games under his belt, but a 1.83 ERA and 1.068 WHIP is nothing to sneeze at.
After making the switch from starter to reliever in 2021, Gage's minor league career began to take shape. He posted a 26.8 percent strikeout rate and 3.66 ERA during his minor league stints with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Toronto Blue Jays, and Houston Astros from 2021-2023.
Gage, who's a New York native, was also an effective ground ball pitcher who had minor-league options remaining. The Yankees have been searching for inexpensive ways to upgrade their bullpen this offseason, and snagging Gage off waivers is a way to do just that while also taking a subtle jab at one of their arch rivals.