Before the trade deadline, there were rumors circulating that the Atlanta Braves were interested in left-handed relief pitcher, Wesley Wright. When I saw that, I couldn’t believe that Jeff Luhnow had not immediately jumped on that opportunity. Wright was once the token lefty specialist out of the Astros bullpen, but had moved into more of a general relief role in 2013 with the club. He struggled this year, and while he was the longest tenured player on the team, he was clearly not this front office’s plans for the future.
This season, Wright has not been good. He is giving almost 10 hits per 9 innings and has posted his highest WHIP (1.48) since 2010 (1.50). Bo Porter tried to use him as an all-around reliever, letting him face right handed batters more often than he had in the past. Wright actually showed moderate success, and even posted better numbers facing righties than lefties this year. However, Wright simply hasn’t been able to get people out when the Astros needed him to. This season, when called in to get one left handed bat out, Wright seemed to consistently struggle to throw strikes. He has walked 16 batters already this year, which is one less than he walked all of last season.
All that being said, I was surprised, first off, that the Braves were interested in a reliever who couldn’t get lefties out and was struggling for a losing team. Second, I was surprised Luhnow did not dump Wright for anyone, ANYONE who could help the Astros in the future. When the trade deadline passed, I assumed the Astros had conceded that Wright was here to stay and could at least be serviceable in a leadership role, if not at least a semi-decent reliever.
But today, Jeff Luhnow traded Wesley Wright for a stack of cash. Let that sink in for a second. The Houston Astros felt that a bundle of money was more valuable to this team than Wesley Wright. The Astros current payroll is hovering somewhere in the vicinity of $10 million for the remainder of this season. Now, much has been made about the Astros having no integrity, how they hate baseball and are just in it for the money. For the record, I don’t believe any of that. You can read tons of articles explaining why it is not a bad thing that the Astros are tanking. Here, read this Grantland article. But today, the Astros made it a little more difficult to see their side.
The Astros are not strapped for cash. I don’t think there is a single person in the world who would argue that point with me. So why would Luhnow trade a valuable (ish) reliever, someone who apparently garnered trade interest just weeks ago, for money? I said on twitter that the Rays could have traded the Astros complimentary tickets to Minute Maid Park and it would have been just as helpful. The Astros don’t need cash. They need talent. Wesley Wright may or may not have the talent they need, but he certainly could have stayed on the team for the money he was making this year. He was due to make a little over a million dollars this year.
This move doesn’t make any sense at all. Who knows, maybe it was reported wrong and Brian T. Smith really meant to say, “The Rays trade for Astros Wesley Wright and are considering trading Cash.” Yeah, that’s probably it. Luhnow just traded for some other player with a funny last name to join Hoes on the team.
Of course, that’s not what happened. What happened was in the midst of Yu Darvish being un-hittable, the Astros announced loud and proud that they are pinching pennies. So long Wesley Wright.