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The move to release Hall is a little surprising, as Houston signed him over the winter to a one-year deal worth $3 million that included a mutual option for 2012. For Houston to choose to release Hall not even halfway through the first season of the contract is weird and guarantees his 2011 salary and 2012 buyout (worth $0.25 million).
Hall was not swinging the bat very well in 2011 and his Astros line will go down as .224/.272/.340 in 158 plate appearances. To be frank, that is not too far removed from PECOTA’s weighted mean projection of .225/.289/.391, so Houston shouldn’t have expected too much more from Hall, unless they bought too heavily into his .247/.316/.456 line with Boston in 2010.
With Jeff Keppinger back after missing most of the first two months, the Astros evidently feel comfortable with their depth. In an odd twist, Hall ends his time in Houston without playing a position outside of second base. Hall’s ability to play all over is one of his best attributes, as he appeared at least three positions each of the past three seasons. Alas, Houston has Angel Sanchez to back up shortstop and second base and his offensive performance might not differ too much from Hall’s over the rest of the season.
The takeaway from this transaction—the positive one, at least—is that Houston is willing to identify sunk costs and do something about them. Ed Wade and company could have easily kept Hall around, even if just in a bench capacity, and attempted to validate the signing. Instead, they weren’t pleased and took action. Conversely, maybe Houston should have opted against signing Hall in the first place—or chosen to not include that mutual option.