There has been chatter amongst fans whether the Astros should trade two of their veteran pitchers as the trade deadline quickly draws near.
This, to me, was actually an interesting scenario to think about last night as we head into the deadline on Monday.
Is there an actual market out there for them?
Well, the pitching market is thin. Unbelievably thin, especially this upcoming offseason. There aren’t any notable starting pitchers or relievers scheduled to be available this winter that would be worth a major investment. That is the primary reason why this deadline we have witnessed trades for pitchers fetch quality returns.
Why the idea of trading Fiers and Feldman is worth looking into?
We should have seen this coming; the returns on trades involving pitchers are quite noticeable this year. The Aroldis Chapman, Drew Pomeranz, and Andrew Cashner trades illustrate as much. So in theory, it does make sense for the Astros to at least gauge what the interest is in Fiers and Feldman. Sure, the Astros duo would not generate the same kind of return that any of the three pitchers listed above brought back to their respective teams. But if the possibility of a decent return exists, it may be worth taking advantage of a seller’s market.
After all, Fiers is a pitcher under club control till 2020 and would provide depth immediately to the rotation and bullpen. While his low nineties fastball or his general arsenal won’t blow anyone away, there could be a team willing to part ways with a decent prospect for that kind of depth. Sure, he could be hit-or-miss, but he has the track record to prove he can pitch well in the majors.
Feldman is another interesting case. His contract ends after the season, which would in theory may make him an easier target for other clubs as his prospect compensation would be lower than Fiers. But what makes Feldman appealing is that he can be effective in a spot start or a long relief role. The veteran right-hander has demonstrated this skill in 2016 and that experience is desirable in today’s trade market.
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Trading Fiers and/or Feldman would also theoretically open a spots for Joseph Musgrove and James Hoyt to join the Astros as mainstays on the roster. Both pitchers are highly regarded within the Astros system. Many project Musgrove to be a solid starter in the majors while Hoyt is thought as potentially the next Astros closer for the future. For a team that has boasted itself on its youth movement then this would seem to be the next logical step. Who knows, maybe Musgrove and Hoyt will give the Astros pitching staff another jolt to bounce the team to the top of the standings?
At the end of the day, if Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow could acquire meaningful prospects for Fiers and/or Feldman and knowingly not miss a beat with Musgrove and Hoyt, I think the trade is made.
Why would it be a mistake to trade Fiers and Feldman?
First off, there is no guarantee that the plan mentioned above would work. Nothing in baseball is guaranteed.
Fiers and Feldman, believe it or not, are veteran pitchers with track records of being capable pitchers in the league. While both have had their issues at various points this season, one can argue that they weren’t meant to be shutdown pitchers for the Astros. They were brought here to provide quality innings and versatility, which they have at times. Playoff teams need that kind of production in conjunction with the high quality results that come via other areas of the roster.
And each of the points brought up earlier in this post apply not only to other ball clubs but to the Astros as well. This team is a contender. They will also reap the benefits of the multiple years of control along with the expiring contract after the season. Sure, there is a mix of good and bad outcomes, however, Fiers and Feldman are known commodities.
If they are performing well, why trade them? It’s not like the Astros are rebuilding again. So there could be little incentive to trade them outside of the prospect return, which could be little if any in terms of quality. If the trade market isn’t high on Fiers or Feldman, there is no point in trading them.
It would also be unfair to Musgrove and Hoyt to be promoted immediately in the heart of a playoff race and expect for both to be lights out. While their upside is much higher than Fiers and Feldman in the future, but expecting much in the short term could prove to be rather cumbersome. For a team that is still fighting for playoff positioning, the byproduct of altering a formula that has been successful since late May could be unwise.
The Astros are in a truly unique position this weekend. This team could stand pat during the deadline and that would be absolutely fine. Fiers and Feldman though seem to be two candidates, along with Pat Neshek and Josh Fields, as arms that the Astros could theoretically deal today. If this team decides to make some changes, there are replacements waiting in the minors. Or they may choose not. Regardless, this is still an intriguing scenario think this morning about as an Astros fan that could have interesting implications.