The Astros announced that utiltiyman Niko Goodrum and right-hander Peter Solomon have been designated for assignment. The moves were necessary to clear a pair of 40-man roster spots for prospects Hunter Brown and Yainer Diaz, both of whom have had their contracts selected to make their major league debuts. Brown’s and Diaz’s promotions were first reported on Monday.
Goodrum signed a $2.1MM free agent deal during Spring Training. The 30-year-old had been non-tendered by the Tigers on the heels of a .214/.292/.359 showing, but Houston took a flier to add him to the bench. Goodrum had posted roughly league average production as Detroit’s primary shortstop between 2018-19, and he offered an intriguing blend of speed, defensive flexibility and some power upside. Swing-and-miss was a concern, but Goodrum was a potential veteran fallback in case rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña faltered in his first look at MLB pitching.
Peña hit the ground running, though, seizing the primary shortstop job out of the gate. Relegated to a reserve role, Goodrum appeared in only 15 MLB games and had an awful showing at the plate. He struck out in 23 of his 45 plate appearances (51.1% rate) and was optioned to Triple-A Sugar Land in the middle of May. The switch-hitter got out to a hot start there, but he landed on the injured list after just two weeks. Goodrum wasn’t reinstated until August 11 and has played in only 13 Triple-A games this season.
The Astros fairly modest investment clearly didn’t pan out as hoped, and they’ve decided to take Goodrum off the roster entirely. He’ll be placed on outright waivers or released in the next week. It’s probable he’ll pass through waivers unclaimed, as any claiming team would take on the approximate $400K left on his contract for the final five weeks of the season. That’s not an especially onerous sum, but it seems unlikely another team would want to assume it with Goodrum amidst a third straight rough campaign.
As a player with more than three years of major league service time, Goodrum would have the right to refuse an outright assignment in favor of minor league free agency if he clears waivers. He has less than five years of MLB service, however, meaning he’d be forfeiting his remaining guaranteed salary to do so. It’s quite possible, then, that he’ll stick in Sugar Land for the stretch run without occupying a 40-man spot.
Solomon, 26, has six MLB appearances under his belt. Those all came out of the bullpen last season, with the right-hander working 14 innings as a long relief arm. He allowed only two runs in that time, but his 10:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio wasn’t especially impressive. Solomon had a much better 26.3% strikeout rate in Triple-A last year, though, and Baseball America named him the #10 prospect in the Astros system entering the 2022 campaign.
BA wrote that Solomon’s five-pitch mix of generally solid offerings, paired with decent control, made him a viable back-of-the-rotation starter. With Houston’s enviable stockpile of starting pitching depth, Solomon has spent all of this season back in Triple-A. He’s worked 97 innings through 23 outings (18 starts) but has a 5.20 ERA that’s his worst at any level as a professional. Last year’s above-average strikeout percentage has fallen to a pedestrian 20.5%, and he’s walking batters at a higher than ideal 10.2% clip. Solomon has still induced ground-balls at an intriguing 47% rate, but his generally middle-of-the-road showing this year squeezed him off the 40-man roster.
Solomon will also land on waivers in the coming days, and it’s possible another team without as much starting pitch depth as Houston has puts in a claim. The Notre Dame product isn’t far removed from being a prospect of some regard, and his pre-2022 track record in the minors was strong. Solomon is also only in his second option year, meaning any team that is willing to devote him a 40-man spot could move him between the majors and Triple-A both this season and next.
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