Sep 16, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; General view of a base before a game between the Houston Astros and the Cleveland Indians at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
If you asked Jeff Luhnow, he’d probably like a do-over on the 2014 MLB Draft. If he had a DeLorean, a broken hot tub, or a tesseract, he could make a quick trip back to June in order to right the mistakes of that ill-fated first round.
In case you don’t remember (ha-ha, who doesn’t?), the Astros selected high school LHP Brady Aiken, out of California, with the #1 overall pick. They by-passed Carlos Rodon, the presumed #1 pick out of N.C. State, and local HS phenom Tyler Kolek of Shepherd, Texas.
After the Astros discovered Aiken’s ulnar collateral ligament was small (there’s a joke in there somewhere) they reneged on their initial offer, and both sides never came to an agreement. Luhnow and the Astros were left looking mean-spirited and inept, and it also cost them their 5th round pick, Jacob Nix, due to a convoluted signing structure.
But what if Luhnow could manage a do-over before the 2015 season started? Let’s imagine there was a chance to trade for Carlos Rodon.
How could this happen?
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For starters, the Chicago White Sox are in search of catching depth and the Astros have a stable full of catchers with Jason Castro, Carlos Corporan, Hank Conger, and Max Stassi. At least one of these guys has to go, and Castro is definitively the best of the bunch. Back in November, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reported that the ChiSox inquired about Castro. It is rumored the Astros are asking a lot for him, but he is only 27 and the Astros have yet to work out a contract extension with him, so he would definitely be a starting point in negotiations.
But the Sox would also ask for more; Castro is not enough of a bargaining chip by himself.
The Astros received the #2 pick in the 2015 draft when they didn’t sign Aiken, in addition to holding the 5th pick after finishing with a 70-92 record this year. With 2 picks in the top-10, Luhnow could afford to dangle one of these for the prized pitcher.
So, there’s Castro –veteran backstop, proven performer-, and a top-10 pick in 2015. The Astros would probably have to sweeten the pot a little bit more. Throw in Oberholtzer or Peacock, perhaps there is a deal beginning to materialize. Some believe that Oberholtzer is an underrated pitcher, which could make him worth trading if another team feels the same way.
Would this trade be good for Houston? You bet. The club is quickly improving, but they won’t be in contention this coming season.
Acquiring Carlos Rodon for a draft pick, a serviceable catcher, and a back-end rotation guy would be a pretty good scenario for the organization. The guy should be a star. Not only would the team be able to make-up for the Aiken debacle, but it would also clear the logjam at the catching position. And it would give the Astros a stout pitching rotation for years by adding him into the mix with Keuchel, Appel, and Foltynewicz.
Would this be good for Chicago? Maybe.
Castro fills their need behind the plate, and the high draft pick would allow them to find another strong talent or use it as a negotiating tool. Plus, with Obie or Peacock, they’d have a 5th starter for a strong rotation on a team that is building to contend immediately. If Rodon makes the big leagues this year, he could be slotted for relief work.
Putting my baseball Christmas list aside, it is unlikely that Jeff Luhnow gets a do-over this offseason. It’s too bad he doesn’t have a time machine.