added 01/13/2017 by Greg Thurston
After a lengthy winter lull, Friday the 13th brought with it some welcomed Astros news stories. The team agreed to contract terms with starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel and outfielder Jake Marisnick -- avoiding arbitration with both players. The Astros also revealed a list of 18 non-roster players that will be invited to Spring Training.
Marisnick will earn $1.1 million for the 2017 season. Keuchel, one of a handful of players who have been working out together in Houston this winter, said he feels 100% recovered from last year's shoulder injury. The 2015 Cy Young Award winner signed a deal that will pay him $9.15 million for the upcoming season.
Of the eighteen players announced to be heading to West Palm Beach next month, fifteen spent last season in Houston's minor league organization. The other three, Reid Brignac, Juan Centeno, and C.J. Riefenhauser were acquired during the offseason.
Brignac, a utility infielder with 369 big league games already under his belt, figures to fill the role vacated by Danny Worth as an insurance policy for any injuries to Astros' infielders.
Centeno played in 53 games behind the plate for Minnesota last season. When Jason Castro signed a free agent deal with the Twins, it not only created a hole on the Astros' depth chart, but also made the 27-year old backstop expendable. Houston claimed Centeno off waivers and he figures to start the year at AAA Fresno.
Riefenhauser is perhaps the most intriguing of the three newcomers. Released by the Cubs last August, the Astros signed the lefty reliever to a minor league deal in December. Riefenhauser, who turns 27 later this month, should get a long look in Florida as the club is in serious need of left-handed relief help.
The remaining players on the list of non-roster invitees are as follows.
Catchers: Tyler Heineman, Garrett Stubbs
Infielders: J.D. Davis, Jon Singleton
Outfielders: Derek Fisher, Alejandro Garcia, Jon Kemmer, Ramon Laureano
RHP: Edison Frias, Jordan Jankowski, Francis Martes, Tyson Perez, Cy Sneed, Aaron West
LHP: Brian Holmes
None of these fifteen are expected to make the Opening Day roster unless an injury creates an opening. However, we may see a few of these guys in Houston before the season is over. Francis Martes would have to be at the top of that list.