Houston began its 40-man roster shuffle on Wednesday, making a move to shore up the bullpen while adding a future roster piece to the puzzle. The Astros claimed former Phillies reliever Raul Valdes off waivers and added Jonathan Singleton to the 40-man roster.
To make room for these two, Houston took Brandon Laird, Cody Clark, Philip Humber and Matt Pagnozzi off the 40-man roster Wednesday.
Valdes is a 35-year old left-hander who has pitched for three seasons in the majors. Last year, he threw 35 innings for the Phillies with a 7.46 ERA. His peripherals, however, tell a different story, as his FIP is 4.39 and his xFIP is even lower at 3.74. Valdes struck out 9.5 batters per nine innings last year while walking just 2.0.
In short, the Cuban-born reliever fits the mold of most of Houston's additions to the bullpen: he strikes guys out, he doesn't walk many and he is undervalued for some reason. With Valdes, it's obviously his age and lack of experience. Valdes is not a long-term piece to the Astros puzzle, but he should be able to provide good, quality bullpen innings next season. Anyone who witnessed what the bullpen did in 2013 will be happy for that.
Meanwhile, Singleton gets added to the roster because he would have been Rule 5 draft-eligible for the first time this year. While he still has a bright future, Singleton's prospect star dipped a bit this season when he hit just .220/.340/.347 for Triple-A Oklahoma City with six home runs in 294 plate appearances. Of course, his season was adversely affected by a 50-game suspension at the start due to minor league drug of abuse violations.
As for the other subtractions, none of them are surprising. Both Clark and Pagnozzi were added late in the season due to catching injuries and Humber obviously needed a change of scenery. Laird might have been slightly surprising, but Matt Dominguez' season at third, however sub-par it might have been, still was good enough to give him a regular job there next year.
What do you think? Any of these moves shocking? Will you enjoy the flamethrowing lefty Valdes matched up with another big-time strikeout lefty Chapman in Houston's bullpen next year?