Houston Astros Rumors: The Reliever Market

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The Trade Candidates

Trade for Kimbrel

Jul 12, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Kimbrel (46) delivers a pitch to the Texas Rangers during the ninth inning of a baseball game at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Padres won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

The Padres GM made some bold moves in their offseason to restart the sputtering offense, but after a lackluster first half, A.J. Preller is looking to sell. They made a trade for one of the best closers in baseball in Craig Kimbrel but are having second thoughts. They are paying a lot of money to a closer for a team that is not winning as often as they should. Kimbrel is throwing his fastballs at his highest average speed of any other year that he has pitched in 2015. He has hovered around 96 MPH for most of his career, but in 2015 he is averaging a 97.5 MPH fastball according to Fangraphs.

Despite the increase in the speed of the fastball, he is also not having a normal Kimbrel type of season. His 2015 stats are 1-2/ 25 saves/ 3.06 ERA/ 52 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings. According to Fangraphs, his strikeouts per nine innings is 13.25.

Is he a flamethrower? Yes.

Trade for Chapman

Jul 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; National League pitcher A Chapman (54) of the Cincinnati Reds throws against the American League during the ninth inning of the 2015 MLB All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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When the Reds signed Aroldis Chapman, I thought he would be with the Reds for his entire career because of his pure stuff and power. Why would the Reds not give him the money to retain his services? The answer is clear, they are presently not a good team, so why tie up a lot of money in a closer for a losing team? Astros fans are familiar with these thoughts, as we went with no-name closers or by committee for several years. In fact, some people criticized Luhnow for spending money to improve the bullpen for a bad team in 2015. But look at where the Astros are now.

According to Fangraphs, after 2014 where Chapman averaged 100.3 MPH on his fastball, he has dropped to a mere 99.7 MPH in 2015. Even with his 100.3 MPH average fastball in 2014, his career average is 98.6 MPH.

Unlike Kimbrel, Chapman’s ERA is below his career 2.23. His 2015 stats are 3-3/ 18 saves/ 1.69 ERA/ 65 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings. His strikeout per nine innings is 15.67. He is a free agent after the 2016 season, so he could cost a little more.

Is he a flamethrower? He could be the king of them.

Trade for Papelbon

May 13, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher J Papelbon (58) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates ninth inning at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

I wrote about Jonathan Papelbon the other day, Houston Astros Rumors: Phillies’ Papelbon begging for a trade. I’m not sure if he throws the fastest, but he sure has the fastest mouth out of all the available closers. The Phillies have made a mistake in how they have handled Papelbon, and he has spoken out against them. He feels like it’s time to get out of Philly, but would the Astros take a risk with all his baggage in tow? According to Fangraphs, Papelbon doesn’t quite throw as hard as he used to. His career average is 93.8 MPH, but for the past two years he has an average fastball speed of 91.3 and 91.1.

He would not make the Astros bullpen average fastball rise at all, move along, nothing to see here. Let’s take a look at his 2015 stats, he has a 1-1 record/ 15 saves/ 1.77 ERA/ 36 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings. He has a 9.08 strikeout per nine innings average in 2015.

Is he a flamethrower? No, he is pretty equivalent to Luke Gregerson at this stage of his career with a bigger name. This is not the pitcher Luhnow is looking for.

Next: Astros Rumors: Does Luhnow have to trade Appel and Phillips?

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