Are the Houston Astros trying to get creative by trading for Ender Inciarte?
The Houston Astros have gone into an offseason hibernation state recently but have remained active behind the scenes. The current roster sits at 38 players, and according to Evan Drellich, who visited with us at TalkingStros last night, they Astros projected payroll is around $87 million with projected arbitration raises. Jeff Luhnow said that they may have to be creative with any other roster moves this offseason, but the remain interested in upgrading the rotation.
However, apparently the Astros have looked in adding some more names to the outfield picture with Drellich reporting that they had preliminary talks with Justin Upton and now new Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte as was reported today by Jerry Crasnick. CTH has written about Upton here: A Look at Why The Astros Should Sign Justin Upton. The Braves acquired Inciarte as part of the Shelby Miller trade including 2015 number one pick Dansby Swanson. Inciarte has two seasons under his belt, so he has long team control, sound familiar?
That’s right ladies and gentlemen, this was a similar situation to Ken Giles. The Astros had to give up a lot of talent to get his proven arm in the bullpen, but would a trade for Inciarte cost the Astros that much? Why would the Astros trade for an outfielder when they already have a logjam in the outfield with George Springer, Carlos Gomez, and Colby Rasmus? The Astros also have Jake Marisnick on the team with superior defensive skills and Preston Tucker unlikely to make the opening day roster. Why would they be after Inciarte?
Stats from Baseball-Reference
2014 Stats: .278/54 runs/ 4 hr/ 27 RBI/ 19 sb
2015 Stats: .303/ 73 runs/ 6 hr/ 45 RBI/ 21 sb
He is a leadoff guy who has a low strikeout rate and an ability to steal 20 bases while batting close to .300. The Astros need some more on-base guys in the lineup, and Inciarte could fit that mold. The Astros have some prospects at the Double-A level who could have MLB impact, but the Astros seem to be passed the point of waiting for prospects. After all, the Astros are highly favored to go to the World Series in 2016.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
If a trade like that were in the works, there would be a second trade also in the works where some of the other outfielders would be on the move. Likely to be included in a trade for Inciarte would be either Tucker or Marisnick along with a prospect or two to the Braves. Marisnick could help defensively in center and continue to grow offensively.
The second move could be to send Gomez and a prospect to the Cleveland Indians for one of their young starters. Why would the Indians want to trade for a guy in his final year of his contract, because their offensive woes kept them out of the playoffs last season with their great pitching? One of the players that could be involved in any deal could be Derek Fisher, who was already almost traded this offseason or one of the 2015 first round picks. This is all specualtion, just an idea as to what Jeff Luhnow could be attempting to do.
I know a few of you are still bent about trading Brett Phillips and company for Gomez and Mike Fiers. I have accepted it because I understand that the Astros see value in the proven young player and saw Phillips as replaceable with the 2015 picks of Daz Cameron or Kyle Tucker on the horizon.
While it would be a head-scratching move alone, should the Astros reel in Inciarte and a young, controllable pitcher for one year of Gomez and other players, that will sure fit the description of being creative. We will see if anything happens with this rumor, but it could mean the Astros are shopping Gomez.