Jeff Luhnow and the Houston Astros front office aren’t wasting much time in getting their offseason plans started, as the team made multiple moves over the course of the day Wednesday as they start to reshape their roster. The team declined their option on Philip Humber and claimed Raul Valdes off of waivers. They also outrighted three players off their 40-man roster: Brandon Laird, Cody Clark, and Matt Pagnozzi.
Declining Humber’s $3 Million option was an easy decision. The right-hander had signed for just $800,000 prior to the 2013 season, but managed to throw just 54.2 IP for the Astros on the season. He was 0-8 with a 7.90 ERA and 1.738 WHIP before the team designated him for assignment, eventually outrighting him to Triple-A Oklahoma City where he didn’t pitch much better. While the Astros may not have extensive depth with MLB experience on their 40-man roster, having the space needed to take a chance on another player is ultimately going to prove far more valuable than Humber at such an inflated rate.
The team’s decision to outright Laird (primarily a first baseman), Clark, and Pagnozzi (both catchers) falls under a similar vein – as none of the three figure prominently in the team’s rebuilding efforts moving forward.
Claiming Valdes off of waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies is the curious move of the group. Valdes, a left-hander who’ll be 36 before next season begins, showed a mixed bag of results (10.8 H/9 but 9.5 K/9) in limited use out of the Phillies bullpen. He was solid against opposing lefties and won’t cost much more than the league minimum to the Astros next season.
It’s also likely worth noting that the organization went ahead and added Jonathan Singleton to their 40-man roster. While the timing of such a move may appear unusual, it was ultimately going to take place before November 20th anyway. Had they left Singleton off their 40-man roster than he’d be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft in December and a player of his caliber would certainly be selected if available.