HOUSTON -- After adding pitchers Brady Rodgers and David Paulino to the 40-man roster late last season and pitcher Reymin Guduan earlier this month to keep him from becoming a Minor League free agent, the Astros don't have many difficult decisions about which prospects to add to their roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft.
Teams have until Friday to determine which players they want to protect from the Rule 5 Draft, which takes place at the end of the Winter Meetings on Dec. 8. Those eligible for that Draft include any player not on the 40-man roster who signed in 2012 at 18 years or younger, or in '13 at 19 years or older.
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The Astros have 38 players on the 40-man after signing pitcher Charlie Morton on Wednesday, leaving them with two slots to fill, though they could remove someone from the 40-man to make more room.
"There's a lot of guesswork involved," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "We like a lot of the players we're considering protecting. Whether or not we protect one, two or three of them or none of them, those are discussions we have to make over the next few days. We have some worth protecting and a lot we want to keep, but it's just a strategic decision we have to make over the next few days."
Among the players the Astros will have to give strong consideration to adding to the 40-man roster are outfielder Jon Kemmer and right-handed pitchers Edison Frias and Mike Hauschild. Catcher Tyler Heineman might also get protected, though it's unlikely.
"There are fewer discussions than there have been in years past, although these decisions are always rough because if you make the wrong call you might end up losing a player," Luhnow said.
The Astros lost outfielder Delino DeShields in the Rule 5 Draft to the Rangers in 2014 after leaving him unprotected. Last year, they didn't protect pitcher Chris Devenski, but he wasn't taken and wound up being named the team's Rookie of the Year in 2016.
The Astros also lost pitcher Jandel Gustave in the Rule 5 Draft in 2014 to the Red Sox. He was traded to the Royals, claimed off waivers by the Padres and then returned to the Astros the following April. He made his big league debut last season for Houston.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.