“Why is this even a question?” you may be asking yourself. Trust me, I’m right there with you. Yet, according to MLB Trade Rumors, the Houston Astros could be shopping their rookie outfielder Preston Tucker. In a wrap-up on their site yesterday, MLBTR’s exact quote is “Also of interest to Astros fans — or to fans of teams needing outfield help — the Astros are on the lookout for starting pitching upgrades, and outfield prospect Preston Tucker ‘seems to be available.'”
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Now that you’re done pulling your hair out, let’s discuss this one. If the report is indeed true, that would lead me to believe that the Houston Astros are looking to add a big-name pitcher at some point this season, not just Aaron Harang. How big of a name depends on a few things. If we’re talking Cole Hamels, who would also have to waive his no-trade clause to come to Houston, then there would have to be other parts involved to get a trade done. Likely at least an arm or two in the minors, as well as another position player. That seems like a lot to give up to me.
Looking elsewhere, there is Kyle Lohse of Milwaukee who should be available with the Brewers’ poor performance this season. Unlike Hamels, Lohse would be a rental, and with his 3-4 record and 5.53 ERA the price tag should be dramatically lower. While he’s been great in his last two starts, adding Lohse wouldn’t be much of an upgrade to the current rotation, but that could always change.
One option that could be done as a straight-up deal would be Scott Kazmir of the A’s. Kaz is 2-3 on a horrendous Oakland squad this season, but holds a 3.09 ERA and a decent 1.25 WHIP. The lefty is also a rental, but the A’s will be looking to receive a decent amount of long-term talent for him. Preston Tucker fits that bill.
While many will be clamoring for Jeff Luhnow to trade Colby Rasmus instead of Tucker, if the Astros are to land a front-of-the-line starter, they’re going to have to give up some talent in return. With Tucker’s hot start in Triple-A, and his solid production in the majors thus far (.281, .378 OBP, 1 HR, 4 rbi) he will definitely be on team’s radar.
Assuming that the Kazmir deal would be accepted by both teams (which is no guarantee by any means) it would intrigue me at the very least. On the one hand, trading Tucker to a division rival would be worst than releasing J.D. Martinez, since Astros’ fans would have to watch Tucker as the enemy 19 times a season. That, added to the fact that he’s been a young stud for the team and seems to have a bright future makes this seem like a deal many fans wouldn’t agree with, but here’s is my devil’s advocate argument. If the Astros were able to land a pitcher of the caliber of Kazmir to pair up with Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh for one player that’s not Carlos Correa, wouldn’t that be considered a decent deal? Add to that that Houston has plenty of depth options in the outfield, and it would make sense that the team would be willing to part with one of their young outfielders.
With all that said, of course I’d love to see Tucker with the Houston Astros for years to come, but if Jeff Luhnow is going to make a trade or two to improve the team this season for a strong late-season push, unfortunately we won’t be able to pick and choose which players get to stay. The trade deadline will be thrilling, with a strong possibly of heart-wrenching news, regardless of which players are on the move.