It was reported today via a number of sources that the Astros will add both Joe Thatcher and Roberto Hernandez to the 25-man roster to start the season. Both get modest (for baseball players, anyhow) salaries - Thatcher gets 1.3MM with an additional 1MM in incentives and Hernandez gets 2.65MM.
More importantly, neither players sit on the 40-man roster, so two spots will need to be created. That means a trade, a release for a DFA for two players is in the cards.
Who is going to get moved?? Well, there are some guys who may be feeling a little uncomfortable at the moment. I am eyeing the 40-man, and will type thoughts as they appear in my head. Pitchers first.
Thatcher displaces Kevin Chapman from the second-lefty spot in the 'pen. Chapman throws hard and has wicked stuff, but walks too many to be properly effective. His control may become less of a problem with more repetition and coaching. My pick is that he is safe.
Sam Deduno has apparently been informed that he will be the long-man in the 'pen. Safe.
Luis Cruz is safe, I would think. He is young and interesting. I would guess that the Astros want to take a careful look at him.
Alex White seems like the most likely DFA as a pitcher. That possibility is based on recent performance - he had a tough 2014 returning from Tommy John, and got lit up in Spring Training. Still, a young, controllable stater. I think he would be safe.
There seem to be a couple of position players who may not be safe. Perhaps Matt Dominguez or Ronald Torreyes from the infielders. Dominguez has not been great for the last 18 months, but is still only 25, and has right-handed pop. I am guessing that he gets a half-season working on his swing in Fresno prior to any DFA's. Torreyes was added to the 40-man to protect him from the Rule 5 draft last November - he struggled a little in Spring Training, but his contact rate in the minors has been freaky, and I can't see him being DFA'd either. Not for a few more months, anyhow.
So that leaves two outfielders. Little Jerome Hoes may be the first on the list to be DFA'd. If I had to make a pick, he would be it.
And Alex Presley's contract was signed before Colby Rasmus', and because both are lefty swingers who can play all three outfield spots, I can't see both of them making the 25-man, and neither player has options. Presley may also not be helped by Mike-Bob Grossman's decent spring and solid late-2014 performance. He is my next pick, and is "only" owed a cool million.
As an aside, I note that the Blue Jays are (i) thin on outfield pieces (4 outfielders on the 40-man) and (ii) seem to have been clearing some roster-spots the last few days (as per MLBTR). They currently sit at 39. About a half-dozen teams have too many outfielders at the moment - including the BoSox and pretty much every NL West team - so the Blue Jays may be well poised to pounce prior to the start of the season. Rampant speculation on my part, but I wouldn't mind betting that they are currently looking to add outfielders, and are engaging a variety of teams in talks to try and extort them of their wares.
As my final point, I wonder if Wojo pitched too well to win the fifth starter slot. If the Astros added him for the first day of the season, and he pitched well enough to avoid being sent down, the Astros potentially would have only 5 years of control. By starting him in the minors, and perhaps holding him down there until June or July, they may get an extra year of control, and avoid a potential super-two situation as well. (Edit: Wojo's ML clock has already started, please check comments below for further detail. It appears he has about a half-season of service time under his belt.)
More meatballs down the middle of the plate may have been Wojo's best bet.