The Angels announced that they have traded infielder/outfielder Trey Cabbage, who was recently designated for assignment, to the Astros. In exchange, the Angels will receive minor league right-hander Carlos Espinosa. The Astros designated right-hander Declan Cronin for assignment to open a roster spot for Cabbage, per Ari Alexander of KPRC 2.
Cabbage, 27 in May, made his major league debut with the Angels last year, making 56 plate appearances in 22 games. He hit just .208/.232/.321 in that time, pairing a 3.6% walk rate with a 46.4% strikeout rate.
But his minor league results have naturally been much better. In 107 Triple-A games, he hit 30 home runs last year. His 30% strikeout rate was still on the high side but his 9.5% walk rate was strong. Even in the hitter-friendly environs of the Pacific Coast League, his .306/.379/.596 batting line still led to a wRC+ of 128. On top of that, he stole 32 bases in 35 attempts while lining up at first base and all three outfield spots.
“If we could somehow get a left-handed bat, preferably an outfielder with some speed, that type of package we’ll pounce on it.” Those were the words of Astros general manager Dana Brown last week, after the club signed Josh Hader. Cabbage doesn’t have any major league success yet but he ticks those boxes for Houston, as he does indeed hit from the left side.
The Astros have lefties Yordan Álvarez and Kyle Tucker set for regular action, but the rest of their lineup skews right-handed. That includes outfielders Chas McCormick and Jake Meyers, as well as depth option Corey Julks and utility player Mauricio Dubón. If Cabbage can have his major league offense make progress towards what he’s done in the minors, he could be a nice complement to the club’s current roster. He still has two options and doesn’t need to be on the active roster right away.
In order to add Cabbage to the organization, the Astros have removed Cronin from their 40-man. The 26-year-old was just claimed off waivers from the White Sox a few weeks ago. Similar to Cabbage, he just made his major league debut in 2023 with uninspiring results. He tossed 11 innings for the Sox, allowing 11 earned runs in that time.
But also like Cabbage, his work in the minors was more impressive. He tossed 51 2/3 Triple-A innings last year, allowing 3.83 earned runs per nine. His 18.7% strikeout rate was subpar but his 54.5% ground ball rate was very strong. That’s been a hallmark of his career, as he’s kept more than half of balls in play on the ground at every level of the minor leagues and in that brief major league debut as well.
The Astros will now have a week to trade Cronin or pass him through waivers. He still has a full slate of options and limited service time, which could help him appeal to a club in search of some bullpen depth and roster flexibility.
As for the Angels, they nudged Cabbage off their roster a few days ago when they signed Matt Moore, but they were able to salvage some value from him by sending him across the division in exchange for Espinosa. The 22-year-old Cuban has limited experience in affiliated ball, having only played in the Complex League and Single-A. He has thrown 84 1/3 innings at those levels with a 3.74 ERA, 27% strikeout rate and 9.9% walk rate.
Eric Longenhagen and Tess Taruskin of FanGraphs gave Espinosa a brief mention on last year’s list of Houston’s top prospects. They noted that the righty was throwing in the mid-90s, while also featuring a slider and a changeup.