At first glance I was shocked. Jed Lowrie traded? What happened to the strength that the Astros had up the middle? Lowrie had 16 home runs last season despite missing time with injury and seemed to part of the rebuilding effort. That all changed tonight.
Chris Carter (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
Lowrie was a player the A’s had previously inquired about at the Winter Meetings, but the Astros were asking for what was perceived to be too much. Obviously something changed as Jeff Luhnow found this offer to be to his liking. So after the shock of the trade wore off, I decided to take a deeper look at the transaction.
- For all the optimism about Lowrie being healthy this year, he has yet be able to stay healthy and play a full season. While the injuries have all been different in nature, and you could say bad luck was involved, this has to be considered a disturbing trend. He is 28 years old, has never fulfilled the potential the Red Sox saw in him, so there is no reason for the Astros to overplay their hand here.
- Even if Lowrie does manage to stay healthy, it is likely that he will eventually become too expensive for the Astros as presently constructed. He is making $2.4 million this season and that is likely to go up which will force the Astros to make a difficult decision at some point. But at the same time, the Astros had to strike while Lowrie’s value was high. And that is more important.
- Luhnow was able to turn one player with question marks into three players. This is the time for trades of this ilk to be done. With the rebuilding state Houston is in, this is when you add young players to the mix and let them develop.
- To me trading Francisco Rodriguez is perfectly alright. Rodriguez was simply not good last season pitching to a 2-10 record with a 5.37 ERA. While he was a workhorse, that performance is certainly expendable and he will not be missed. He was in the mix to be closer, so the Astros could easily find someone to replace that performance.
- Also do not forget the fact that the Astros acquired Tyler Greene towards the end of last season. Greene hit 7 HR in limited time and does have some power potential. Marwin Gonzalez also gives Houston another dependable option at shortstop, so there should not be a significant downgrade.
- Chris Carter has a bat from the right side. He is formerly a top prospect who is still young enough to be considered a prospect. Carter hit 39 HR in 2008, which was followed by years of 28, and 34 HR. Last season in 67 big league games in Oakland, Carter had 16 HR and is a clear power threat. He is a first baseman by trade, but also can play in left field which gives the Astros additional flexibility.
- This certainly reduces the odds of Nate Freiman making the Astros, but Carter is the better option. Plus, this gives the Astros more options. The addition of Carter also puts a greater emphasis on the performances of Matt Dominguez and Brett Wallace. Competition, especially on a team like this, is a good thing. The more young power hitters you can get, the better.
- Brad Peacock might be the best player in this trade, and it gives the Astros another piece that they have been lacking. Peacock is a major league caliber starting pitcher and projects as a top of the rotation starter. Prior to the trade Baseball America had Peacock ranked as the top Oakland pitching prospect. But then why would Oakland have traded him?
- Peacock did strike out more than a batter an inning in AAA last season (139 strikeouts in 134.2 innings) and had a 12-9 record, but his ERA was 6.01. Historically he has not been that bad and he was the victim of bad luck and a hitters park. His 4.26 FIP looks a lot better than the actual ERA, but it is a cause for optimism.
- Other than Jason Castro, the Astros do not have much in their minor league system behind the plate. The addition of Max Stassi could help to fix that. While he still has some experience to gain before he reaches the big leagues, the 21 year old catcher does have potential. Last season in single-A, Stassi hit 15 HR along with a .268 average.
Lowrie has potential and appeared to be heading towards the All-Star game before he got injured last season, but he is still not a sure thing. This is not to say that any of the three prospects the Astros acquired will turn out to be sure things, but I like the attempt. Carter is a young power hitter and Peacock has top of the rotation potential while Stassi is a little further away. Lowrie was not going to be the difference in the Astros’ playoff chances this season, so why not pick up some prospects. A few months ago, I would not have expected Lowrie to have this much value. This is a pretty good return for trading Mark Melancon a year ago.