The Houston Astros are probably going to have a boring trade deadline.
It may be so dull that Jeff Luhnow and his entourage packed up and went to Detroit to have a change of scenery. Kidding there, but I don’t think the Astros will target any hitters before the August 1st trade deadline, with one exception. No, sorry Astros fans, I don’t believe that they would go after Jay Bruce, even though he would make the most sense.
According to Jerry Crasnick, the Houston Astros are one of five teams that have been linked to Jonathan Lucroy. Crasnick says that the Rangers, Indians, Astros, Mets, and Red Sox have shown interest in trading for the first base/catcher Lucroy. Crasnick also mentions that a ‘mystery’ team has emerged in the bidding war. I doubt the Astros are really in on Lucroy, but you never know.
We can eliminate one of the teams, as Rangers reporter TR Sullivan has said that the Rangers have not shown significant interest in the catcher. They will focus on pitching instead, so let’s take the Rangers out of the picture even with Prince Fielder out of the picture. The Indians have been rumored to be the favorite to land Lucroy, and the Red Sox have the farm system to go out and get a player to help them in 2016.
Crasnick later Tweeted that the Lucroy talks are intensifying, the offers are getting more serious, and a trade could happen soon. Ever since the Astros have traded Lance Berkman to the Yankees, the Astros have struggled to find a first baseman that can produce consistently. We have gone through Brett Wallace, Carlos Pena, Carlos Lee, and Jon Singleton to mention a few. The days of Jeff Bagwell or Berkman are gone, and A.J. Reed is supposed to be the next great player at first base.
Lucroy has a team option in 2017 for $5.25 million, so he would be under team control for the more than the rest of this year. Jeff Luhnow could be trying to bypass the free agent market this offseason and acquire their catcher for 2017. Evan Gattis will still be under contract, but Lucroy can play first base as well, so they could both play similarly to the way Jason Castro and Gattis are this seasons.
For this year, the Astros could be further lengthening the lineup if they are really after Lucroy. When Yulieski Gourriel is ready, he could play third base, and Alex Bregman can play left field or vis-versa. Lucroy could play first base and catch on occasion, so they don’t have to rely on the young guys down the stretch.
We talked trades with Chris Cotillo and Brian McTaggart on Sunday’s Talking Stros
Lucroy is batting .301/ 15 homers/ 50 RBI’s in a bounceback season after the disaster 2015 season. He was an All-Star this season and currently has an OPS of .849 which would fit great behind Carlos Correa. Because there are several teams out there who could use a catcher like Lucroy, he could become expensive.
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A.J. Reed and Francis Martes would be probably headlining the move, with possibly Brady Rodgers and/or Derek Fisher as well. This is just an example, but I think it would be 3-4 players for one type of trade. Reed still has tons of power potential, but Lucroy could add something that the Astros have rarely had, a catcher who hits close to .300.
Why should the Astros not make the trade? We have already partially rebuilt the Brewers, who Astros fans jokingly call the Astros of the North. While we don’t really need a catcher, Lucroy’s bat could further strengthen the lineup. The Mets are offering Travis D’Arnaud in return for Lucroy, but it would take a little more to get him.
It’s hard to know what Luhnow would actually offer, but if talks are serious between the Brewers and another team, the Brewers like the package. What do you think, do we need Lucroy? Jayson Stark also thinks the Astros are looking at Derek Norris as well, but they could just ride the season out with Gattis. Gattis’ defense has been impressive this season. If the Astros did trade for him, it would be to play first base this year.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***