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The Looming Roster Crunch

MLB: Texas Rangers at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It’s April, the team has won 10 straight and sits in first place, the new guys are doing their thing, and the old guys are doing their thing too. So far it’s almost a perfect opening three weeks. But, queue Game of Thrones theme, there’s danger on the horizon.

After tomorrow’s off day, the Astros will have had four off days before their 19th game. That’s a lot of off days. After Thursday, they play fourteen in a row. On account of the off days, Hinch and Luhnow elected to go with a seven-man bullpen and a four person bench (Jake, Diaz, Kemp, Stasi), and White as half-time DH. It’s almost a certainty that the team will need an 8th BP arm, so what are the team’s options.

Right about now it would be really convenient if somebody were injured (the most minor of injuries, of course). That’s just not the case. If nothing bad happens tonight, who will lose their spot on the 25-man?

The most obvious choice is Tyler White, who hasn’t looked good at all. But he and Kemp cannot be optioned. Jake can, but he’s playing unbelievably that that would go over like a rotten turd in the clubhouse. Diaz may have an option, but he’s the only backup who can play multiple IF positions. Kemp has no options. And one obviously needs a backup catcher.

If White is removed, he could remain with the Astros provided he clears waivers. Given that he posted a .276/.354/.533 slash in 237 PAs last year, he’s not passing through waivers. And he’s not even that bad this year. In 35 PAs, he’s getting on base 37% of the time, so his total lack of power (.034 ISO) hasn’t zapped him of all offensive value. Still, he looks bad, and Kemp looks good, with only 4 Ks in 30 PAs, and an unlucky BABIP of .200. I’d have to think that the Astros value Kemp over White.

Will the Astros trade White? They may not want to, but they may be forced to.