Should the Astros Trade Jose Altuve?
Let me start this by saying two things. First, I do not believe Jose Altuve will be traded. Second, I do not think Jose Altuve is untouchable in trade talks. A month or so ago, Ken Rosenthal wrote that he believed the Astros should trade Altuve to help bolster their “weak” farm system as he believes he could bring in a ton. This showed me two things. First, it shows that Rosenthal, along with most national writers, still do not pay attention to the Astros farm system which has greatly improved over the past year. Second, it shows that if traded, Altuve could bring in a very nice haul for the Astros. We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of a possible Altuve trade after the jump.
Jimmy Paredes. The Astros 2B has played very well so far this season and is ready for a promotion to the big leagues. He could fill in for Altuve immediately if he is traded. Paredes, as most of you remember, was acquired with Mark Melancon from the Yankees for Lance Berkman in July 2010. Former General Manager, Ed Wade, and the rest of the prior Astros front office, really did Paredes a disservice as they moved him around to several positions and brought him up to the majors too early in an effort to showcase him, along with other prospects, to save their jobs. Paredes is hitting .312 with 7 homers and 28 steals in AAA and his defense has improved greatly. The Astros also have 2010 first round pick, Delino DeShields Jr. at Low A, but he isn’t close to the big leagues.
The Return. The Astros will definitely get a huge return for Altuve if traded. The fact that he is a great young player is one reason but also, we now have a competent GM in Jeff Luhnow running things. The Astros minor leagues have definitely come a long way in terms of legitimate prospects but still lack top of the rotation type of pitchers. Jarred Cosart is the only pitcher in the system who profiles as a possible ace or top of the rotation starter. An Altuve trade would bring at least one possible ace like pitcher in return and then some. C, OF, 3B could also be targeted. The Tigers, Cardinals, Rays, Dodgers, Giants and Pirates are all teams that are pushing toward the playoffs and could use 2B help. In other words, there is most definitely a market for Altuve should he become available.
I’m going to sum up all of the cons in one paragraph, but simply put; Altuve is a franchise cornerstone. He is only 22 years old and under club control for the next five years. The Astros are in the perfect situation with Altuve. He is a young, productive player at a cheap price and the team does not have to worry about free agency for half a decade. He is also the type of player you would hope to get back when you are trading a veteran for a group of prospects. Why trade for that if you already have it? He is still young enough that he will still be a very productive player in a few years when we are competitive and starting to contend again unlike other Astros veterans who will likely be traded in Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers. Altuve hits for average, has some power and has greatly improved his walk rate and OBP in just one season. Just imagine how much more productive he will be as he grows and matures in MLB. He is the perfect lead-off hitter.
To sum it up, you could make arguments for both sides. I could see the Astros trading him in the next few weeks for a nice haul of prospects, promoting Jimmy Paredes to the big leagues and putting the Altuve era in the rear view mirror. However (and in my opinion, most likely), I could also see the Astros viewing Altuve as one of the best pure hitters in the game and decide to build around him. It will not be long before some of the club’s top prospects such as Jonathan Singleton, George Springer and Jarred Cosart come up. These are guys that will join Altuve as faces of the franchise and will help get the Astros back on the road to contention.