Houston Astros need to be wary of bad deadline deals.
The Houston Astros experienced their first season since 2005 where they were buyers at the trade deadline, and they made several trades to improve their team. Fans often complain that when you make a deadline deal, you are sacrificing the future for the present. The Astros paid some hefty prices in 2015 to make the team that went to the playoffs; they traded away Brett Phillips, Josh Hader, Domingo Santana, Rio Ruiz, and Jacob Nottingham to name a few. One of these trades could backfire as a trade the Baltimore Orioles made a few seasons ago.
The Orioles were in the midst of a playoff run during the 2013 seasons, and they needed starting pitching help. They did not have the talent needed to make a play for the big time targets, so they zeroed in on the seven-win Scott Feldman with the Chicago Cubs. Feldman and Steve Clevenger were traded to the Orioles in exchange Jake Arietta and Pedro Strop with cash. This trade backfired as Arietta broke out in 2014 with the Cubs with a 10-win (2.53 ERA) season and won the NL Cy Young in 2015 with a 22-win season (1.77 ERA).
While this is not as bad as the Larry Anderson for Jeff Bagwell trade, this type of trade is why many general managers don’t like to trade top prospects unless they absolutely have to. Which of the trades this year could come back and haunt the Astros? Could it be the potential five-tool player Phillips, or the left-hander Hader who draws comparisons to Chris Sale, or will it be Nottingham who could be the next Buster Posey?
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Feldman, following the 2013 trade to the Orioles, signed a three-year deal with the Houston Astros after a 12-12 (3.86 ERA) season. Feldman is what they though he was, an average pitcher who would keep his team in the games most of the time. Coming into the 2016 season, Feldman will be entering the final year of his deal with the Astros. There does not appear to be a role for Feldman on this Astros team right now, especially coming off an injury ridden 2015.
The top four of the rotation is set with Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers, and Mike Fiers. Feldman will battle top prospects Vincent Velasquez and Mark Appel for the fifth spot in the rotation. Should Feldman lose out on the rotation, his most likely role would be the long-man out of the bullpen. The Astros could look to trade him, but coming off the shoulder injury and the contract, there won’t be too many bites.
Luhnow knew from the beginning that they would lose some prospects as time goes on, but that is the reason for accumulating so much talent, so they can trade them for major league ready talent. Prospects are not always a sure thing, but will one of the players that the Astros traded away become a future Cy Young or MVP? We will find out down the road.