Astros claim IF Brandon Laird off waivers from Yankees

HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros have claimed infielder Brandon Laird off waivers from the New York Yankees, General Manager Jeff Luhnow announced today.

The 24-year-old Laird, who will report to the Astros Major League club in time for Sunday afternoon’s game vs. Cincinnati, has played primarily at third base and first base in his professional career. In 2012, he tallied 31 doubles, 15 home runs and 77 RBI in 130 games for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, who just clinched the International League Northern Division title on Thursday.

Laird has appeared in 11 Major League games (six starts), all coming in 2011 for the Yankees. He has been a productive hitter in his six minor league seasons, reaching 20-plus home runs twice and 75 or more RBI four times. In 2010 at Double A Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he combined to hit .281 with 25 home runs and 102 RBI. Laird, who is the younger brother of veteran Major League catcher Gerald Laird, has been a postseason All-Star three times in his minor league career and was named to the Arizona Fall League All-Prospect team in 2009.

Luhnow also announced the following roster moves today: IF Matt Downs has been recalled from Triple A Oklahoma City; OF Jordan Schafer has been reinstated from the 15-day Disabled List; the contract of RHP Jose Valdez has been purchased from Oklahoma City. All three players are scheduled to be in uniform for tonight’s 7:05 p.m. game vs. Cincinnati.

Downs hit .267 in 24 games for the RedHawks with three home runs and 15 RBI. He had been with the Astros big club for the entire season before being optioned to OKC on August 9. In 46 relief appearances at OKC, Valdez had a club-best 21 saves, which ranked 3rd in the Pacific Coast League, while tallying 59 strikeouts in just 43.2 innings of work. Schafer had been on the 15-day Disabled List since August 7 as a result of a left shoulder injury. He appeared in four rehab games for OKC (8/27-31).