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Astros claim Demel, Elmore off waivers from Arizona

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HOUSTON, TX - The Houston Astros have claimed right-handed pitcher Sam Demel and infielder Jake Elmore off waivers from Arizona. The club also outrighted left-handed pitchers Fernando Abad and Sergio Escalona, right-handed pitchers Edgar Gonzalez, Jose Valdez and Kyle Weiland, and infielder Matt Downs to Triple A Oklahoma City. Outfielder Jordan Schafer was placed on outright waivers and was claimed by Atlanta today. The club did not pick up the 2013 option on catcher Chris Snyder, who automatically becomes a free agent. The announcements were made by Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow.

Weiland has been placed on Triple A OKC’s roster, while Abad, Downs, Escalona, Gonzalez and Valdez all become unrestricted free agents.

Demel, 27, spent nearly his entire 2012 season with Triple A Reno, posting a 4.07 ERA (30ER/66.1IP) in 56 relief appearances. He allowed just a .237 opponent’s batting average, while striking out 75 hitters in 66.1 innings pitched. The native of Channelview, TX, made one appearance for the Diamondbacks this season, but has appeared in 72 Major League games over the last three seasons (2010-12) for Arizona, posting a 4-4 record with two saves and a 4.95 ERA (35ER/63.2IP).

Elmore, 25, hit .344 (144x419) with 30 doubles, 73 RBI, 32 stolen bases and a .442 on-base percentage in 108 games for Reno this season. He made his Major League debut with Arizona in August and would go on to play in 30 games for the D-Backs, including 14 starts at shortstop and one at second base. He was named a Pacific Coast League Mid- and Post-Season All-Star this season.

Abad, 26, went 0-6 with a 5.09 ERA (26ER/46IP) in 37 games, including six starts, for the Astros this season. Abad has pitched in parts of the last three seasons (2010-12) with Houston, compiling a 5.10 ERA (48ER/84.2IP) in 82 relief appearances and six starts.

Downs, 28, hit .202 (36x178) with eight home runs and 16 RBI in 91 games for Houston this season. The utility infielder has appeared in 254 games in his Major League career with San Francisco (2009-10) and Houston (2010-12), and owns a career .230 (121x527) batting average.

Escalona, 28, spent the entire 2012 campaign on the disabled list while recovering from left elbow surgery. He had a couple stints on Major League rosters for Philadelphia (2009) and Houston (2011), and has appeared in 63 Major League games, posting a 3.48 ERA (16ER/41.1IP).

Gonzalez, 29, went 3-1 with a 5.04 ERA (14ER/25IP) in six starts for the Astros this season after having his contract purchased from Oklahoma City on Sept. 3. The right-hander has pitched in parts of eight Major League seasons with Arizona (2003-08), Oakland (2009), Colorado (2011) and Houston (2012).

Schafer, 26, hit .211 (66x313) with 23 RBI and 27 stolen bases in 106 games after beginning the year as the Astros Opening Day center fielder this season. The left-handed hitting outfielder was acquired by Houston from Atlanta as part of the return on the Michael Bourn trade on July 31, 2011.

Snyder, 31, played in 76 games for Houston this season, including 67 starts as the club’s backup catcher. The nine-year Major League veteran hit .176 (39x221) this season with seven home runs and 24 RBI. He’s a career .225 (465x2067) Major League hitter in 706 games.

Valdez, 29, pitched to a 2.25 ERA (3ER/12IP) in 12 relief appearances after being a September call-up for the Astros this season. He spent the majority of his season with Oklahoma City, where he posted a 4.95 ERA (24ER/43.2IP) with 21 saves in 46 relief appearances.

Weiland, 26, missed most of the 2012 season while recovering from right shoulder bursitis. He made three starts for the Astros this season, after making the club as the fifth starter. The right-handed starter, who was acquired by Houston from Boston last offseason, will be placed on Oklahoma City’s roster.

With the moves, the Astros 40-man roster stands at 36.

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