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Astros clearing 40-man space

On Thursday, the Astros cleared four spots from their 40-man roster.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Per a Tweet from Astros' beat writer Brian McTaggart, the Astros have begun clearing space on their 40-man roster.  Thursday afternoon they outrighted backup 1B Jesus Guzman and LHP Rudy Owens and declined RHP Matt Albers' club option.  Additionally, the Oakland A's announced they have claimed RHP Jorge De Leon off waivers from the Astros.

Guzman, 30, entered the season figuring to receive a large number of plate appearances as the right-handed side of a platoon with incumbent 1B Brett Wallace.  Guzman was acquired from the Padres in December 2013 in return for backup infielder Ryan Jackson.  Guzman's tenure with the Astros can only be classified as a disappointment, joining Carlos Pena and Brandon Laird in the annals of Astros backup first-basemen that did more harm than help.  He finished the season with a .188/.272/.248 batting line, for a 52 wrC+ and -0.5 fWAR, in 184 plate appearances.  Guzman should still be arbitration eligible, and it remains to be seen if he remains in the Astros organization after passing through waivers un-claimed, but safe money would probably be on "no".

Rudy Owens, 26, was acquired in the trade that sent Wandy Rodriguez and none of his money to the Pirates in 2012.  He appeared in 1 game for the Astros this season, a spot start in which he allowed five runs in five innings.  Over four seasons at the Triple-A level, Owens owns a 4.17 ERA, 2.4 BB/9, and 6.2 K/9 over 72 starts.  He will likely pitch in Fresno's rotation in 2015 if he is not traded or granted his release.

Local boy Matt Albers excelled over 10 innings with the Astros after signing for a $2.4 million contract in the offseason that included one option year.  As one of the key cogs in GM Jeff Luhnow's bullpen rebuild, his loss to right shoulder tendinitis left the front office reeling to replace him with the likes of Paul Clemens and Kyle Farnsworth.  It didn't work.  The declining of Albers' options indicate that the Astros have concern that Albers may not return from his injury with his full strength in time to help them for the 2015 season.

De Leon, 27, pitched in eight games for the Astros this season, with a 4.91 ERA and a low strikeout rate over seven Innings.  His 95 mph average fastball velocity and hard slider likely made him an attractive option to an A's squad that could lose several pitchers from its impressive bullpen to free agency.  De Leon figured to receive little to no playing time on the 2015 Astros.