Is Francis Martes the next Astros prospect to be traded?
We know that the Houston Astros love Francis Martes because they plucked him out of the lower levels of the Marlins farm system during the Jarred Cosart trade. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow has done an excellent job identifying players in other systems before they breakout, Martes, and David Paulino are two notable players acquired in this way. Now that Martes is a year or less away from making his MLB debut, other teams are doing their homework on him as well.
Now that the Astros are back into the playoff hunt in 2016 after a terrible start, they are most likely looking to be buyers as the MLB non-waivers trade deadline approaches. With that being said, other teams are looking at the Astros farm system to try to identify the players to seek out in any trades. However, it was very surprising when a team fighting for a Wild Card spot was scouting Martes.
According to Chris Cotillo, the Blue Jays are currently scouting the Astros farm system, with eyes on Double-A flame thrower Martes. While this may not make much sense with the Blue Jays still in the mix for the hunt, this could point to a big move on the horizon for the Astros. Martes is a big part of the Astros plans, and they will try to hold onto him and Alex Bregman.
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Who could the Astros be after, the top Jays pitchers are Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and Marco Estrada? I don’t see the Blue Jays trading Sanchez because he is a rising ace. They will probably hold onto Stroman, but he has been part of the problem with the Blue Jays this season with a 5.08 ERA. Maybe the Astros could be looking at him to get him in front of Brett Strom to fix him.
The 25-year-old former first round pick in 2012 will not come cheap, but he probably would cost less than Sanchez. However, the pitcher the Astros could be after is Estrada, who is signed for one more season. He is 5-3/ 2.93 ERA/ 99 strikeouts in 104 1/3 innings. Estrada may not be the one game must win pitcher for the Wild Card game, but he can help the Astros win. The Astros have to decide what type of pitcher they need and which pitcher they will be willing to pay the price.
A trade idea that was suggested on Talking Stros was to trade Martes and Preston Tucker to the Blue Jays for Estrada. The Jays get a left-handed bat with pop and a future ace pitcher while the Astros get a #2 pitcher for 2016-17 at least.
Who is Francis Martes? He was the 20th ranked prospect overall by Baseball-America. He has a 5-3 record in 2016 with the Hooks, and he has struggled with his WHIP in his time with the Hooks. This has led to a higher ERA at 4.10, higher than his 3.08 career minor leaguer. He has 60 strikeouts in 63 2/3 innings, but his strikeout to walk ratio is at an all-time low. No matter his control struggles, he is a legit pitching prospect.
The Astros will have tor trade either Martes or Joseph Musgrove in any significant trade. We will have to wait to see what happens in the next week or two, but the Astros are winning again which is a good thing.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***