FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that Astros closer Chad Qualls has been claimed off revocable waivers by an unidentified team.
It’s unclear whether the Astros actually intend to deal Qualls, but Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow indicated last month that he would have to be overwhelmed. Either way, they have until Wednesday to make a decision. They can trade him to the claiming team, let him go to the claiming team for nothing (which is highly unlikely), or simply pull him back. Of course, if he’s pulled back, he’s ineligible to be traded for the rest of the season.
Qualls has quietly been very effective as Houston’s closer this season, posting a 3.07 ERA and 38/5 K/BB ratio over 44 innings while going 14-for-17 in save opportunities. The 36-year-old is owed $3 million next season and his contract includes a $3.5 million club option for 2016, which looks like a nice bargain at the moment. Still, the Astros could potentially sell high and get a nice prospect or two in return from a contender.
The Astros have released first baseman Jon Singleton, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.
Singleton, 26, was suspended for 100 games after testing positive for a drug of abuse for a third time. He has had issues with marijuana in the post and admitted to being a drug addict several years ago. He said, “At this point it’s pretty evident to me that I’m a drug addict. I don’t openly tell everyone that, but it’s pretty apparent to myself. I know that I enjoy smoking weed, I enjoy being high and I can’t block that out of my mind that I enjoy that. So I have to work against that.”
Singleton played parts of two seasons in the majors in 2014-15 with the Astros, batting a combined .171/.290/.331 with 14 home runs and 50 RBI in — appropriately — 420 plate appearances. He spent 2016 with Triple-A Fresno and 2017 with Double-A Corpus Christi, putting up middling numbers.
If he can convince teams he’s still actively working to overcome his addiction, Singleton may be able to find an opportunity elsewhere. But his road back to the majors remains long. He was once a top prospect in the Phillies’ system, then was traded to the Astros in the Hunter Pence deal back in July 2011.