The Astros made two moves yesterday. Let's take them one at a time:
1. Picked up Evan Gattis' 2017 option for $5.2m.
This was a no-brainer. $5.2m is not a lot of money to pay for 32 home runs, and when it turned out in 2016 that Gattis was a viable back-up catcher? Picking up his $5.2m option was a done deal by September. Gattis did walk at a higher rate (though still not a terribly high 8.6%) than in 2015 and of course his power improved to a .257 ISO and a .508 SLG.
As Jake Kaplan reminds us, Max Stassi is out of options. So he will either make the Opening Day 2017 roster or have to pass through waivers to stay in the organization. The Astros needed to have a back-up catcher on the roster, anyway.
2. Traded Pat Neshek to Philadelphia for a PTBNL.
The Astros could have picked up Neshek's option for $6.5m or bought him out for $500,000. Just by looking at the dashboard stats you would think that Neshek had a better year in 2016 than he did in 2015, so this decision may seem curious. His K/9 was down a tick (8.23 from 8.40), BB/9 up a tick (2.11 from 1.98) - but nothing terribly off. He cut his BABIP-allowed from .273 to .216.
But if you look at how Neshek had to be used - a righty specialist - it starts to make more sense:
Neshek vs. RHB, 2016: 130 PAs, .172/.209/.254, 32K:6BB
Neshek vs. LHP, 2016: 55 PAs, .250/.321/.646, 11K:5BB.
$6.5m may not be a lot to pay a lefty specialist (see: Sipp, Tony), but it is a lot to pay a guy who shouldn't be allowed to face left-handed batters.
Add to that (and I need to give a hat-tip to @StrosWS2016 for reminding me) Neshek was fairly critical of the front office's decision to stand pat at the Trade Deadline:
It's hard to go from a veteran leader like Feldman to kids who have never been up here and find ways to get the team cohesive. We went from two rookies to nine rookies in a couple of weeks. It makes it tough.
Neshek sounded a little disillusioned with his role with the Astros to MLB.com:
I'm going to miss all the guys, especially in the bullpen. That was a good group of guys. You live with these guys for two years, and you pick up and go and it's very sad. I think it's going to be great. I'm going to have a lot better opportunity with the Phillies than with the Astros.
*Essentially, in payroll terms, the Astros swapped out Neshek for Aoki.
*Brian McTaggart has a Way Too Early Opening Day 2017 preview, complete with reasons to be excited.
*Indians.com writer Anthony Castrovince's story of life, love, and the loss of his son is powerful and heartbreaking.
*The Royals declined their options on Edinson Volquez and Kendrys Morales.
*Maybe don't read the scouting report on former Astros outfielder Brett Phillips.
*Check the New York Times' front page...had the Cubs lost the World Series.
*The New Zealand All Blacks were at the Cubs parade.
*Ralph Terry - who gave up a walk-off homer to Bill Mazeroski in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series - has a message for Brian Shaw.
*How Texas A&M is trying to save coffee.
*A San Antonio cop was fired for allegedly giving a homeless person a literal sh*t sandwich.