Astros demote Brett Wallace and Chris Johnson to Triple-A

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As if trading away Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn wasn’t enough of a roster shakeup, the Astros also decided to demote first baseman Brett Wallace and third baseman Chris Johnson to Triple-A last night.

They started 91 and 86 of Houston’s first 108 games, but Johnson has struggled all season with a ghastly .286 on-base percentage and .659 OPS and Wallace convinced the Astros he needed more time in the minors by going just 12-for-66 (.182) in July.

Of course, with Pence and Bourn gone Wallace’s overall .720 OPS ranks second on the team behind only Carlos Lee, which isn’t bad from a 24-year-old rookie and makes the demotion based on 66 at-bats an odd one. Even stranger is that Wallace was replaced on the roster by 22-year-old Jimmy Paredes, who was acquired from the Yankees in last year’s Lance Berkman deal and had nearly the same OPS at Double-A (.726) that Wallace did in the majors (.720).

Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle notes that only two of the eight position players in the Opening Day lineup remain starters and apparently the Astros don’t have any patience for 24-year-old rookies with decent overall numbers even when they’re in the midst of a full-scale rebuild and have MLB’s worst record.

Report: Mariners interested in Asdrubal Cabrera

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Matt Ehalt of The Record reports that the Mariners may have some interest in acquiring second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera from the Mets. The club hasn’t confirmed anything of the kind, naturally, but the prevailing thought is that they’ll need some insurance at second base if they reach the playoffs, since Cano’s current 80-game suspension precludes him from participating in any postseason series.

On Friday, club GM Jerry Dipoto revealed that Cano will likely return to the team as a first baseman once his suspension expires, while second baseman/outfielder Dee Gordon is slated to remain at the keystone for the foreseeable future. With the infield all but set in stone, however, Dipoto said that acquiring position players at this year’s deadline isn’t likely to be a “primary concern,” especially as the team focuses on strengthening their pitching staff prior to making a run at the postseason.

Still, there’s a case to be made for Cabrera. The 32-year-old second baseman has already improved on some of last year’s totals and is currently batting .282/.335/.492 with 17 home runs (16 more than Gordon has tallied so far in 2018), 21 doubles and an .827 OPS in 385 plate appearances. He could provide some much-needed support behind Gordon until Cano’s suspension lifts on August 14; following the end of the 2018 season, he’s scheduled to enter the free agent pool for 2019.