Somewhat out-of-place, then, is a familiar baby-face who is 37-years-old. Wandy Rodriguez returns to the Astros, at least for now, on a Minor League contract. When Rodriguez first toes the rubber for Houston in March this year, it will be nearly 44 months since he last did so for the club.
Dealt to the Pirates at the deadline in 2012 not long after Jeff Luhnow took the reigns in Houston, the traded ended up not being too special for either team. Rodriguez managed just 164.1 innings of unspectacular work through his two and a half seasons with Pittsburgh thanks to injuries. On the Astros side of things, Robbie Grossman never established himself, Rudy Owens was out of the organization after unimpressive work and some snarky Tweets, and Colton Cain was released following a brutal stint in Double-A back in 2014.
The depleted Rangers let him start 15 games for them just last season, and while not spectacular, Rodriguez proved he might have something left in the tank, with a 4.33 FIP and a 2.00 K/BB ratio in 86.1 innings. Whether he's starting depth at Triple-A or a second lefty in the bullpen, Rodriguez brings experience and that good curveball to the table with him, not to mention some skills with the barber's tools. It will be interesting to see how his role, and approach to pitching, might morph as camp goes on and Brent Strom works with him. Even if nothing becomes of the reunion, it will be fun to see Magic Wandy wear a Houston uniform again, at least for a little while.