Number 18. Just like that. After missing four games with a minor hand injury, Chris Carter returned tonight with a bang.
Chris Carter (Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports)
Carter, who was acquired as part of a trade package for Jed Lowrie prior to this season, has been the biggest Astros power threat all season.
In his first at bat against Shelby Miller, Carter took the rookie hurler deep with an opposite field home run. It was his 18th long ball of the season and he leads the team both in home runs and in RBI’s with 47.
But it is not all good things with Carter despite the power as he has already struck out 120 times on the season and was only hitting .228 entering Tuesday’s game. As ugly as that looks, it could be worse and he does make up for it with his power output. Carter also sports a .323 on base percentage which is third among regulars behind Jason Castro’s .332.
Given the Astros track record, trade speculation swirling around Bo Porter’s squad should not be surprising to anyone. But Carter was not a player that I expected to be involved in trade discussions.
Back in March we were dissecting who was going to make the team, and Carter’s spot seemed tenuous at times. However, there were a few factors working in the power hitter’s favor that allowed him to make the team.
First of all, he is a true right handed power hitter and that is something the Astros needed. He might not be the best defensive player around, but he is versatile in the sense that he can play two positions (first base and left field). Carter was also part of the aforementioned Lowrie trade, and he did not have any options remaining, so Porter had to take him to Houston or else the Astros would have lost him.
The main team that has been attached to Carter, is the Yankees. And they are certainly in need of a right handed power hitter like Carter. I have not seen specific players mentioned that would be coming back to the Astros, nor has their been much chatter from their end about trading Carter. But speculation on the Yankees end and by writers that cover the team has begun to gain a little steam.
Despite the fact that he does not hit for a high average, I do like Carter. He walks a ton so he still gets on base and a 30 HR season with 90 RBI’s is not out of the question for him. It is also very possible that he would have a place on the Astros in a few years once their young position players start reaching the major leagues. Carter could prove to be a very valuable bottom of the order power hitter.
On the other hand, on many levels Carter is still expendable to some degree. But I would rather Carter get traded as either part of a bigger package, or for a player that can really have an impact. I can’t see how moving a 30-35 home run hitter for a fringe player will do the Astros any good in the long run. As a parallel, Chris Johnson is having a good season for the Braves while Marc Krauss does not look like anything more than a fringe player. I don’t want to see any more trades of that nature. That is not to say Johnson was anything special, as he is just an example for the sake of discussion.
An interesting thing about Carter that could also help his trade value is the disparity in his performance between home and road this season. The power is relatively close (7 HR, 19 RBI at home compared to 11 HR, 29 RBI on the road), but there is a huge difference in his batting average (.168 compared to .295).
Carter is not eligible for arbitration until 2015, and free agency until 2019. There is no need to trade him just for the sake of trading him.
What do you think about trading Carter? What return do you need to get if he is moved, or does it not even matter what the return is?
This is just the beginning of the trade rumor carousel regarding the Astros and we will have you covered all month here.