Mark Appel has been the beacon of hope for the Astros fan base since the day he was drafted in 2013. The 23-year old righty seemed to start meeting his potential towards the end of 2014, pitching exceedingly well in the Arizona Fall League. Yet, with Cole Hamels on the trade block, Appel may be the piece that the Astros have to include to make sure a deal is struck.
Should the Astros trade Mark Appel? There is an argument for both sides. The anti argument is that he is younger than Hamels, and will cost less as the Astros look to contend in the years to come. That’s all we know for certain.
The case for trading Appel is as follows.
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The whole reason you build up a farm system is to help your major league club. Yet, sometimes trading a talented prospect can land you a proven MLB player, in this case Cole Hamels. Let’s go with what we know. Hamels has a career 3.27 ERA, and a 3.05 ERA over the past three seasons. Since 2008 he has made at least 30 starts in each season and has been a Cy Young candidate in three of the last four years.
Hamels is nearly 31-years old and is due to make $23.5M each of the next four years, with an option for a fifth year.
The case for trading for Hamels is that he is a known quantity. He is a top-of-the-rotation starter that can help next season. With an improved win total in 2015, the Astros would also be able to lure key free agents next offseason, something they struck out on early this winter.
Mark Appel is exciting, but he is also unpredictable. Would I like the Astros to keep him? Of course. Yet, including Appel in the deal wouldn’t just tip the scales in favor of the Phillies accepting a potential deal from the Astros, it could also keep more young talent on-hand. If the Astros are dead-set on keeping Appel and Carlos Correa, they will have to give up more prospects to have a chance at a trade. Including Mark Appel could limit the total loss.
The whole scenario boils down to “the process.” Compiling minor league talent for the future is a great way to build a team, but there is no way that all of these prospects can make the team, let alone contribute. In order to get value, you have to give up something valuable. Would you rather have Cole Hamels, or take a chance on Mark Appel?