Could the Astros be on the lookout to add more power to their lineup via trade?
The 33-year old slugger is in the middle of his tenth professional season overall and his second with the Royals. In 386 plate appearances this season, Morales has slashed a stat line of .246/.313/.427 with 16 home runs and 49 RBI. Morales now mostly contributes as a designated hitter, however, he does get the occasional start at first base or right field.
This rumor about the Astros being interested is somewhat surprising when taking into account the recent addition of Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel to the organization and the call-up of Alex Bregman.
Sure, Gurriel has just recently began play in the Astros minor league system after his visa was granted, and Bregman has struggled to begin his major league career. But both players are expected to contribute to the Astros as the playoff chase begins to truly ramp up.
The Astros plans surrounding Gurriel and Bregman, in turn, has had implications on Luis Valbuena and Marwin Gonzalez, both of whom can play first base. And I doubt the Astros want to play Morales at first base over two players in Valbuena and Gonzalez that are also known for their gloves. This would essentially force the Astros to play Morales exclusively at designated hitter. And we know that the Astros would prefer to maintain flexibility at that position versus to tying it up to almost one player.
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However, the need for a jolt to the offense could be needed as the Astros were swept out of Detroit this weekend by the Tigers. To be honest, though, a major issue in Detroit was the lack of quality pitching. The offense happened to go through a dry spell at the same time. While that development is a bit concerning, the lineup should improve as Bregman adjusts to major league pitching and other key hitters return from injuries.
Adding Morales would, in theory, though, give the Astros someone who can change the momentum of a game with one swing of the bat. His offense as a whole in 2016 (94 OPS+) has fallen considerably after his bounce back season in 2015 (127 OPS+). So it is rather concerning that Morales still has the up-and-down tendencies that he has displayed throughout his career.
While I am not saying that the Astros won’t trade for Morales, it seems rather doubtful that the team would part ways with a decent prospect or two just for the sake of adding the veteran slugger. The Astros would be better off concentrating their resources on trading for a true difference maker, as a starting pitcher, than adding another hitter when your lineup is already in decent shape.
**Statistics provided by Baseball-Reference**