Evan Gattis Likely Coming to Houston, But at What Price?

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It’s nearly official: Evan Gattis is coming to Houston for a trio of prospects. That trio? Rio Ruiz, Michael Foltynewicz and Andrew Thurman. Ouch.

Ruiz may be seen as expendable due to the emergence of Colin Moran at third base. Moran was acquired at the trade deadline last year in a trade with the Marlins that also brought Jake Marisnick to Houston. Ruiz has more pop than Moran, and is also younger. I compared these two players a couple of weeks back. Here is a full comparison.

The big piece in this deal (to me) is Folty. Many have been speculating that he would be in competition for a starting spot come opening day this year. Foltynewicz was the Astros 4th ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, and #57 in all of baseball. Folty is known for his fastball, which reaches the mid-to-upper 90s, but the knock on him has been that his fastball is too straight. It may be due to this that the 23-year old righty struggled in his brief stint in Houston, compiling a 5.30 ERA in 18 2/3 innings.

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This trade gives Brett Oberholtzer a very good shot at making the rotation out of spring training, and essentially eliminates the competition for Moran to reach the majors. Is this the right move? As Evan Drellich pointed out (via Twitter) “Astros’ ability to evaluate their own talent, their own prospects, now that they’ve amassed so many is now in spotlight.” There have been a few trades that Luhnow has made that we’ll be keeping an eye on, but we can certainly move this one to the top of the list.

Now for the positives! Evan Gattis has been dangled by the Braves all offseason, and there was reportedly a deal in place with Houston earlier in the offseason, but the Astros didn’t want to add B.J. Upton and his contract (along with limited offensive production) to their payroll, so the deal was nixed. Now, it looks like Luhnow may be slightly overpaying to get his guy. Sounds familiar, right?

The red flag on Gattis is that he hasn’t played more than 110 games in each of his two big league seasons. The bright side is that he brings some pop to the Astros’ lineup, and could be excellent protection for Chris Carter, assuming the lineup goes George Springer, Carter, Gattis in the 3-4-5 spots. He’ll hit for a decent average (combined .253 in two seasons) and will fit right in, striking out 24.6 percent of the time. With the short porch in left, the Astros have stocked up on right-handed power.

The plethora of righty power also gives them some trade options down the line, with most teams lacking power from the right side.

According to the Steamer, Evan Gattis is projected at 137 games with 26 home runs and 77 rbi while batting .243. These numbers were also projected with the Braves, so there could be a slight increase in home runs and rbi, with the Crawford Boxes only 315 feet away, and Dexter Fowler/Jose Altuve setting the table for the middle of the order. With Gattis in tow for the next four years, where will he play? Houston already has three major league caliber catchers in Jason Castro, Hank Conger and Carlos Corporan, so either one (or two) of these players will be on the move, or Luhnow just really loves having catchers.

If two of the three catchers are moved, Gattis could fill the back-up role, while also playing in the outfield. If only one catcher is moved, Fowler could be on the move, and Jake Marisnick could slide over to center, with Gattis taking left on a more full-time basis. Defensively, this is a scary proposition, but left field is relatively small in Houston, so it could be like Manny Ramirez in Boston for all of those years, with less offense. Again, this trade isn’t officially official, with more players rumored to be added at this point, but it does sound imminent.

I have to think that the new player/players being added would have to be coming Houston’s way. We’ll just have to wait and see!

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