The Houston Astros announced yesterday that they out righted Rhiner Cruz to Triple-A OKC. Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle was the first to tweet the news.
Rhiner Cruz outrighted off Astros roster. Puts 40-man at 39.
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) December 23, 2013
The 27-year old Cruz was selected by the Astros as the first overall selection in the 2011 Rule 5 Draft. Cruz shockingly stuck with the Astros 25-man roster all season while posting a 6.05 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in 55 innings. Cruz improved in 2013, but was sent down to OKC in early May after posting a 4.40 ERA and 2.02 WHIP in 14.3 innings. In 41.2 relief innings at OKC, Cruz posted a 4.75 ERA and 1.58 WHIP to go along with a 38/32 K-BB ratio. Cruz received a call-up to the majors in early September and finished the season on a high note, reducing his ERA to 3.38 on the season.
With the new additions to the bullpen, the Astros decided to outright the fireballer off the team’s 40-man roster. Cruz cleared waivers and will head to OKC where he’ll likely spend most of the 2014 season. No move is expected for the time being with the holiday season right around the corner. The Astros are expected to make a few more moves this offseason and Cruz will likely not be the only victim to be taken off the 40-man roster.
The Astros are still looking for another bullpen piece, though more and more options are signing elsewhere. With Chad Qualls and Matt Albers already on board, the Astros could still use another closing option before the season starts. Grant Balfour could be an option after his contract with the Baltimore Orioles was nixed due to concerns with his health after he took his physical. Jesse Crain is another relief pitcher the Astros have been linked too this offseason, and there seems to be mutual interest if the money is right.