The Houston Astros have claimed left-hander Raul Valdes off waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies, according to a team announcement. In addition, the club outrighted right-hander Phillip Humber, infielder Brandon Laird, and catchers Matt Pagnozzi and Cody Clark to the minor leagues while adding top prospect Jonathan Singleton to the 40-man roster.
Valdes, 35, spent the 2013 season splitting time between the Phillies and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In 17 major league games, the southpaw posted a 1-1 record with a 7.46 ERA, 9.5 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9, but fared much better in his time in the minors. In 14 games with Lehigh Valley, Valdes was 4-5 with a 2.86 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. In parts of four major league seasons with the Mets (2010), Cardinals (2011), Yankees (2011) and Phillies (2012-2013), the former Independent leaguer is 7-7 with a 4.94 ERA in 95 career appearances. He will likely slot into the Astros' bullpen in 2014.
In addition to outrighting Humber off the 40-man roster, the team also decided to decline his $3 million club option for 2014, making him a free agent. The decision comes as no surprise for the 30-year old, who posted an 0-8 record and 7.90 ERA in 17 major league starts on the season after being claimed from the White Sox last winter. Because he fared better with Triple-A Oklahoma City after being outrighted in May, he will likely sign a minor league deal with a club this offseason and go to spring training in hopes of landing a back-of-the-rotation job or Triple-A depth spot.
Laird, 26, hit only .169 with 5 HR and 11 RBI in 25 games on the season, his second with the Astros. The former Yankee is the owner of a lifetime .197 average over three major league seasons, and cleared waivers before being outrighted by the Astros.
Clark, 32, spent eleven seasons in the minors before making his major league debut with Houston this season. In 16 major league games, the backstop hit .105 in place of Jason Castro, who missed time at the end of the season due to injury.
Pagnozzi, 30, hit .143 in nine games with Houston after being acquired in a September trade to provide depth in Castro's absence. The former Cardinal, Rockie and Pirate has appeared in 42 major league games over four seasons, posting a lifetime .272 average.
Singleton, 22, is widely regarded as the Astros' first baseman of the future and was ranked by Baseball America as the 27th best prospect in the game before the season. He posted a disappointing .220 average with 6 HR and 31 RBI in 73 games with Oklahoma City this season, but still may be slated to join the major league squad out of spring training. The Astros lacked at first base during the 2013 season, and will likely move Brett Wallace back to third base to make room for Singleton now that he is on the 40-man roster.