Houston Astros Looking to Add On
Yesterday Evan Drellich posted an article for the Houston Chronicle in which he had talked to GM Jeff Luhnow about the possibility of adding on to keep the momentum rolling. In the article, Luhnow states, “We don’t want to disappoint. I don’t want to disappoint. So if anything, I think the pressure’s on more now than it was at the beginning of the season, because we want to accomplish what the fans now feel we’re capable of accomplishing.”
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There is an obvious need for an upgrade in the starting rotation, with Sam Deduno making spot starts until lefty Brett Oberholtzer is set to return to the rotation. While Scott Feldman and Roberto Hernandez have performed admirably, one has to imagine that at some point their performance will slide, which will cause an even bigger need to fill.
Luckily for the Houston Astros, there are plenty of talented starting pitchers that should be on the market this trade deadline. Which pitchers will be shopped ultimately depends on how their teams are performing. Granted, with the second wild card being implemented, there are fewer teams that are full-fledged sellers at the deadline these days, and more teams out window shopping, but the Astros have the farm system to make any deal worthwhile for a potential trade partner.
The big name out there is Cole Hamels. We wrote about him enough over the break, so we won’t re-hash old material now. The cost will be high to land the ace lefty, and quite possibly not worth the trouble. Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would likely try to land either Mark Appel or Carlos Correa in the deal–so thanks but no thanks.
One team that has struggled early and could make a deal sooner rather than later is the Chicago White Sox, who traded for Jeff Samardzija during the offseason. I like “The Shark” quite a bit, but call me superstitious when it comes to adding him. Each team he has gone to has lost–a lot. When the A’s acquired him last season the team fell off a cliff. The Cubs were never supposed to be good in his stay there, and while the White Sox had detractors heading into this season, their 8-14 start has to be some sort of curse, right? Three points make a line and all that jazz. He would be a decent addition, but there are bigger fish out there.
Based solely on team performance, that leaves the Brewers and Rangers as potential early sellers this season. Uh, no thanks.
Johnny Cueto (2-3, 2.72) is a name that will likely be tossed around quite a bit at the deadline. He finished second in the NL Cy Young race last season to Clayton Kershaw, who was also named the NL MVP. The Reds are sitting at 12-13 at the moment, so for them to deal him they will either need to fall out fast, or know they have no chance in re-signing him. The latter would be the best case for the Astros, since that could get them a few extra starts out of the Reds’ ace. It would also make the price tag a little higher.
The Nationals have Doug Fister (2-1, 2.61) and Jordan Zimmermann (2-2, 4.15) both set to be free agents after this season, but with Washington (13-14) expected to contend this year, the likelihood of both being on the move would be slim. There is a chance however that one could be traded, with only four starters being needed for the playoffs. While former starter Tanner Roark is transitioning from long-man to late inning reliever (he tallied the save on Monday) he could also be moved back into the rotation if the need arose. They also have A.J. Cole as an option for the rotation, although he struggled in his first big league start last week. Is there a chance to land Fister or Zimmermann? Maybe.
One player that will be available, possibly as early as June, is southpaw Scott Kazmir of Oakland. With Kazmir’s contract being up at the end of the year (see: any former Athletic, ever) he will be on the move. Add in that one of the strengths the A’s have is rotational depth, and that means they can shop at an earlier date. Jarrod Parker is set to return from Tommy John surgery in the next month or so, which could lead to Billy Beane pulling the trigger around that time. The A’s could use some bullpen help, like now, but that could cause Luhnow to pause. If Beane would settle for some minor league talent, this deal looks promising.
If Kazmir doesn’t become available shortly, the A’s also have Barry Zito (yes, I know) as an option in the minor leagues. The team has said that they would let him go if he received a big league opportunity elsewhere. He’s a low risk, decent reward player that wouldn’t cost much. That being said, he likely wouldn’t be much of an upgrade over the current options. What he would bring to the team is years of major league experience, including playoff experience, which could prove to be invaluable to the Houston Astros down the road. While he showed glimpses of dominance in spring training, he is currently 0-2 with a 5.96 ERA with the Nashville Sounds.
The final option is Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants. In recent years “Big Time Timmy Jim” has struggled, going 32-38 with a 4.76 ERA over the past three seasons, but this year he is off to a hot start, going 2-2 with a 2.40 ERA. He’s walking fewer batters per nine innings, allowing fewer hits and isn’t being plagued by the long ball just yet. Granted, a change of scenery to Minute Maid Park may see the ball fly a bit more than the spacious park that is AT&T. His velocity is still down, but it seems as though Timmy has been learning how to pitch without it this season. If a deal is struck, his asking price would be on the low end of these options.
These are just six options (not including the farm-emptying Hamels), but some of the better options considering where I’m imagining prospective free agent’s teams will be at the deadline. David Price is another name that will be available this winter for example, but it’s hard (ok, impossible) to see the Tigers giving him up in a trade during the season.
Which option do you like the most, and what would you be willing to part with in order to make the deal happen? For a complete list of prospective free agents, MLB Trade Rumors has you covered.