Continuing my quest to scour all the players in various MLB camps that are out of options, we come to the Houston Astros. Not only are they rebuilding in an attempt to recapture the glory of the not-so-distant past, they are also transitioning to the American League West where they will play for the first time in 2013. Given that they are a team in flux on many levels, and considering they have made a sizable number of trades in recent seasons to acquire far more players than they have dealt away, Houston has seven players in camp that are out of minor league options. If they don’t make the Astros Opening Day roster, they will be available. If that happens, would any of these seven be a viable addition to the Kansas City Royals?
Let’s find out.
*Note: Given my knack for rambling, I’m splitting this article into two parts. This one covers Chris Carter, Philip Humber and Tyler Greene. Part two, which should be published tonight, will cover Lucas Harrell, Fernando Martinez, Justin Maxwell and Wesley Wright.
The Astros got their hands on Carter earlier this month when they dealt SS Jed Lowrie and RHP Fernando Rodriguez to Oakland. The 26 year old 1B/DH was one of three players Houston got back in the deal with C Max Stassi and RHP Brad Peacock. A 15th round selection of the Chicago White Sox back in 2005, the Astros will be his fourth organization though he only spent 11 days as a member of the Diamondbacks back in the winter of 2007. All of his big league experience came with Oakland over the last three season with 2012 representing his first true shot at establishing himself. In 65 games last year he hit 0.239/.350/.514 with 16 HR, 39 BB and 83 SO. That stat line represents what he figures to be going forward. Carter has light tower power to all fields and he’s willing to take a walk, but he will struggle to hit for a high average because he comes up empty on a very high percentage of his swings. Primarily a 1B/DH that has some limited experience in LF, Carter doesn’t bring much to the table as far as the Kansas City Royals are concerned. At least not at the big league level where they are set with Gordon, Hosmer and Butler in LF, 1B and DH respectively, but he would fit a fairly sizable need for the organization in Triple-A. Of course it is all but inconceivable that things would break in such a fashion that Kansas City could get their hands on him and manage to get him to the minors. If he doesn’t make the Astros Opening Day roster, and that’s a fairly sizable if by my estimation, another team will surely find a spot on their 25-man roster for him.
St. Louis drafted Tyler Greene in the 1st round (30th overall) of the 2005 draft and he hit the Cardinals Top-30 at #3 the following off season. He stayed in the team’s top-30 list for the next four seasons but would never again rank higher than 14. Now 29 years old, Greene is destined to be a fringe utility player having hit 0.224/.292/.356 with 16 HR and 28 SB in 266 games in four major league seasons. During that time Greene has appeared at every position on the diamond except for catcher and pitcher. The Cardinals dealt him to Houston back in August for a PTBNL or cash. He’s versatile, has an outstanding arm, above average speed and enough pop in his bat to get by as a utility player. However his plate discipline and overall offensive approach is terrible and it holds him back from being even a replacement level player in the major leagues. Houston is rebuilding and someone has to make their roster at SS so Greene may make their team by default. If he doesn’t, the Royals should definitely look elsewhere as even Elliot Johnson and the “probably should already be retired” Miguel Tejada are better options to help in Kansas City and they’re already with the team.
The Royals and Humber shared the road together back in 2010. He spent the bulk of the season pitching in Omaha’s rotation but did make seven relief appearances and one start with Kansas City. The result was a 4.15 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 102 ERA+ in 21.2 innings of work. If you remove his 5.2 inning start and the 9 hits and 5 earned runs that went with it, you wind up with a much more attractive 2.81 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in his time in the bullpen. Of course that was several seasons ago and the former 3rd overall pick of the Mets back in 2004 is now 30 years old. After leaving the Royals he spent the last two years with the White Sox where he was above average in 2011 (116 ERA+) and awful in 2012 (68 ERA+). Between the two seasons he tossed a combined 265.0 innings in 44 starts and 10 relief appearances. Given the other moves Dayton Moore made this off season to address the rotation, Humber shouldn’t so much as raise an eyebrow of curiosity as far as the Royals are concerned. That said, it’s not likely he will hit the open market as the Astros are rebuilding and he figures to secure one of Houston’s rotation spots for 2013. As a fun aside, I’m hoping he pitches with Detroit and Cleveland at some point during the remainder of his career so he will have spent time on the roster of each of the five AL Central teams (MIN 2008-2009, KC 2010, CHI 2011-2012).