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Nate Freiman, who was trying to make the club as a Rule 5 pick, was claimed on waivers Saturday afternoon by the Oakland A’s. He must stay on their 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the Padres, where he was plucked away by Houston in last year’s Rule 5 Draft.
Freiman, who hadn’t played since Wednesday, had hit .278 with one homer and seven RBIs, and it became increasingly clear he wasn’t going to fit into the Astros’ plan.
The Astros now have 35 players in camp.
“When we selected him in the Rule 5 in December we thought we were getting a right-handed power guy who’s had good success, and he’s done everything to prove that’s what he was,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “Subsequent to that, getting [Chris] Carter in the trade and having [Brandon] Laird have a tremendous spring and [Brett] Wallace looking good, [Carlos] Pena looking good, it came down to a roster fit that wasn’t there that we thought might work differently.”
Luhnow said the Astros were potentially going to have a conversation with the Padres about trading for Freiman if they could get him through waivers, which they didn’t.
“He did a good job and he proved to us he is what he thought he was,” Luhnow said. “Whether or not he’s ready for the big leagues after being in Double-A that’s anybody’s guess, but he did everything that we hoped he would. It’s not a reflection on him, it’s a reflection we stayed healthy and we had a lot of options on the corners. When you talk about a player that is limited to first base or DH, there’s not many roster spots available for those types of players.”
The move perhaps betters the chances of Laird, who’s swung the well this spring, of making the team, but there’s still lots of competition for the final few position spots.
“It clears up the picture a little bit,” Luhnow said. “It doesn’t mean anybody’s guaranteed anything yet because we still need to determine those last couple of spots with [Brandon] Barnes and J.D. [Martinez] and Laird, and there’s still enough guys in the mix. Same thing on the pitching side with the last spot in the bullpen, the last spot in the rotation. We still have our work cut out for us but we have games every day so we’ll keep after it.”
Meanwhile, relief pitcher Josh Fields, who was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in Rule 5 Draft, still has a good shot to make the club.
“It’s a little easier with a relief pitcher than it is with a position player,” Luhnow said. “We’re still optimistic we can give him a few more looks and make the right decision for the club.”