Astros send Villar to Brewers for Minor Leaguer Sneed

Club also releases outfielder Grossman, lefty Cruz

Astros send Villar to Brewers for Minor Leaguer Sneed

HOUSTON -- The Astros traded infielder Jonathan Villar to the Brewers on Thursday in exchange for Minor League right-hander Cy Sneed, while clearing more space on their 40-man roster by releasing outfielder Robbie Grossman and left-hander Luis Cruz.

Facing a Friday deadline to set their 40-man roster in advance of next month's Rule 5 Draft, the Astros have 34 players on the roster and can protect a handful of prospects from being snatched by another organization.

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Sneed, 23, made 26 appearances (24 starts) across two levels of Class A ball in the Brewers' organization in 2015, posting a 2.58 ERA with a complete game and a save. Sneed began his season with Class A Wisconsin and was named a Midwest League Midseason All-Star before a promotion to Class A Advanced Brevard County. He was originally a third-round pick by Milwaukee out of Dallas Baptist University in the 2014 MLB Draft.

Villar, 24, played in 53 games with the Astros in 2015, hitting .284 with seven doubles, two home runs and 11 RBIs. He appeared in 198 games for Houston over the past three seasons, since making his Major League debut with the club in 2013, three years after he was acquired from the Phillies.

Grossman, 26, played in 24 games with the Astros this year, but spent the majority of the season at Triple-A Fresno. He was acquired from the Pirates along with left-handers Colton Cain and Rudy Owens in exchange for left-hander Wandy Rodriguez on July 24, 2012, and started in left field for the Astros on Opening Day 2014.

Cruz, 25, appeared in 28 games (19 starts) at Fresno in 2015, going 7-5 with a 4.27 ERA and 93 strikeouts. He was originally drafted by Houston in the ninth round of the 2008 Draft.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.