Astros Rumors

Houston Astros: Let’s Make a Deal With the Reds Johnny Cueto

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This summer’s biggest blockbuster could feature the Houston Astros acquiring both Aroldis Chapman and Johnny Cueto. Chapman, one of the best closers in MLB, is under team control through 2016 while Cueto is in his contract year. But with the Reds struggling big time under Bryan Price, the organization is likely to sell some players to net some quality prospects.

Chapman is a flame thrower with an average velocity very close to 100 miles per hour. In fact, Brooks Baseball credits Aroldis with a 101.09 fastball for the month of May in 2015. In 19 1/3 innings this year, Chapman has a 1.86 ERA and 31 strikeouts. There is some concern due to his H/9 and BB/9 rates being up, but his BABIP is at .386 opposed to a career mark of .280. It is likely that the Reds’ defense is part to blame as Chapman’s FIP of 1.80 is very close to his career mark of 1.96.

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Johnny Cueto, however, is a

Cy Young

candidate year in and year out. He is currently being examined for elbow soreness. Cueto has some injury history with pitching 24 games in 2011 and just 11 games in 2013. Despite these setbacks, Cueto is still very solid on the mound. In 2014, he made his first All-Star game and missed out on the National League Cy Young Award to

Clayton Kershaw

. Johnny Beisbol threw a career-high 243 2/3 innings while striking out 242 batters.

This season Cueto is approaching to 100-win mark, currently holding an 88-61 record. In 9 starts this season he has record 65 1/3 innings that are just shy of 7 1/3 innings per start. Cueto is averaging a tick under a strikeout per inning, with 60 on the year. Regardless of how he gets his outs, Cueto would be a very significant add to the pitching staff. When he is healthy, he can go deep into ballgames.

Now on to the hard part: facilitating such a trade. Last season the A’s acquired Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes, one of the top hitters in MLB. Not really a good comparison for the Astros. Jeff Samardzija went to Oakland, albeit with an extra year of club control, for a package of prospects headlined by Addison Russell. The Shark was then flipped in the offseason to the White Sox for some upper-level prospects with nearly no time in the major leagues.

Craig Kimbrel was traded to the Padres for a package of minor league players. That deal was more of a salary exchange than anything as the Padres were forced to take on the contract of Melvin Upton Jr. while the Braves received and released Cameron Maybin. Regardless the Padres essentially acquired a solid closer (who has surprisingly struggled in San Diego) for a couple of minor league prospects.

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With these trades in mind, the Astros definitely have the pieces to trade for Cueto and Chapman in the same deal. The package that I propose centers around

Domingo Santana

and

Josh Hader

, the Astros #3 and #9 prospects in a very deep system. Santana’s weakest part of his game is his ability to hit for average, which he makes up for with his ridiculous power. It is largely known that the National League tends to throw fastballs more often, so the Reds would be smart to acquire Domingo somehow. Hader, however, is a lanky left-handed pitcher who struggles with his control at times.

Max Stassi is another guy that would be included in this deal. Max serves as an emergency catcher for the Astros, with Castro and Conger receiving time at the MLB level. But he has struggled as a 24-year-old in AAA Fresno and a change in scenery, along with some MLB playing time, could lead him to tapping into his full potential.

Two final pieces to the trade would be Colby Rasmus and Daniel Mengden. Rasmus is with Houston on a one-year deal and is trending upwards again. Mengden, however, is a 22-year old pitcher in Class A Quad Cities. The Astros have a ton of pitching depth and would not be hurt badly by including an RHP with a lot of upside in this deal.

Sooner or later the Astros are going to be buyers at the trade deadline. Do I want to lose top prospects with a lot of upside? Not really. The time for the Astros to win could be as early as the trade deadline this summer. Acquiring Cueto as a half-season rental is not going to be cheap. But maybe if Cueto came to Houston, he would stay in Houston with an extension. The Reds might be reluctant to trade Chapman, but what good is a closing pitcher without a lead to protect?

The Houston Astros trade (c) Max Stassi, (of) Domingo Santana, (LHP) Josh Hader, (of) Colby Rasmus, and Daniel Mengden to the Cincinnati Reds for (RHP) Johnny Cueto and (LHP) Adrois Chapman. 

Part 1: Let’s Trade with the Oakland Athletics

Part 2: Let’s Trade with the Phillies

Part 3: Let’s Trade with the Reds

Part 4: Let’s Trade with the Reds Part 2

Part 5: Let’s Trade with the White Sox

Part 6: Let’s Trade with the Mets

Part 7: Let’s Trade with the Reds Part 3

Part 8: Let’s Make no Trades

What do you think of the proposed trade offer?

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