Wade explains Astros roster moves
With the deadline to tender contracts to players eligible for salary approaching quickly approaching, the Astros on Wednesday outrighted left-handers Tim Byrdak and Gustavo Chacin, removing them from the 40-man roster.
The Astros also outrighted right-handed Minor League pitcher Matt Nevarez, who will be placed on the roster at Triple-A Oklahoma City, and signed catcher Carlos Corporan to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Byrdak and Chacin can elect to become free agents. The moves leaves the Astros’ 40-man roster at 37.
“Basically, these moves were economically driven,” Astros general manager Ed Wade said. “We’re trying to get our payroll numbers where they need to be, and with 10 arbitration-eligible players we had to pick and choose amongst those guys.
“In the case of Byrdak and Chacin, they weren’t easy decisions to make, but we felt with the arbitration status that it was a direction we had to go in. I spoke to Tim [on Wednesday] and indicated to him that he should go ahead and see what might be available, but we can continue to have dialogue.”
Byrdak made $1.6 million last season and would have seen his salary rise to around $2 million in arbitration, which is a hefty price for a left-handed specialist. Byrdak, 37, went 2-2 with a 3.49 ERA in 64 games for the Astros last season, holding lefties to a .213 batting average.
Left-hander Fernando Abad, who had a 2.84 ERA in 22 appearances in his rookie season in 2010, is in the mix to assume the role of lefty specialist, though there are some in the organization that envision him as a possible starter. Wade will continue to explore other options via free agency or trade as well.
“Fernando’s role and where he ends up will be determined when we go to Spring Training,” Wade said. “We have a lot of time between now and then to try to figure out what we want to do from the left side. We still have Wesley Wright, and we’ve expressed interest in other left-handers that might be out there and fit what we’re trying to do.”
Chacin, 30, went 2-2 with a 4.70 ERA in 44 appearances with the Astros last season after signing as a Minor League free agent. Nevarez, 23, spent last season at Double-A Corpus Christ, where he was 2-1 with one save and a 3.76 ERA in 36 games. He’s now eligible to be taken in next month’s Rule 5 Draft.
The moves leave the Astros with eight remaining arbitration-eligible players ahead of the Dec. 2 deadline to tender contracts to those players: pitchers Wandy Rodriguez, Nelson Figueroa and Matt Lindstrom, infielders Clint Barmes and Jeff Keppinger, catcher Humberto Quintero and outfielders Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence.
“The time and circumstances made sense for us to go ahead and create roster space prior to the tender deadline,” Wade said.
Corporan, 26, played for Triple-A Reno in the Arizona organization last season and hit .290 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs. The switch-hitting catcher hit .342 against lefties, while appearing in 87 games in 2010, including 78 behind the plate.
A native of Puerto Rico, Corporan is currently playing for Ponce in the Puerto Rican Winter League, where he is hitting .279 with 10 RBIs in 17 games. Corporan becomes the club’s ninth non-roster invitee.
“Our scouts had good reports on him,” Wade said. “He has pretty good numbers, and he gives us that protection at Triple-A if something were to occur at the big-league level.”