Astros Played the Trade Deadline Perfectly
The Houston Astros Did Not Obtain a Player Via Trade for 2016, But That Could Be a Good Thing.
Another year, another trade deadline. There was no Carlos Gomez/Brett Phillips swap for fans to debate for an eternity. Nary a Ben Zobrist/Aubrey Huff disaster. Nor was there a Scott Kazmir rental, and thus, no hometown Daniel Mengden shipped away to a division rival. The criticism will soar from both sides, but the Astros were very wise not to make a huge splash at the trade deadline.
A SELLER’S MARKET FOR THE AGES
Brian Cashman converted a handful of prospects and moral indifference into Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, Rashad Crawford, and old friend Adam Warren. That’s not too shabby of a haul for a rental reliever with substantial off-the-field issues. A.J. Preller, in an astounding change of fortune, managed to convert Yonder Alonzo and Marc Rzepczynski into Anderson Espinoza, one of the most electric young arms in baseball, via Drew Pomeranz.
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And those were done days before August 1st.
Jeff Luhnow and the boys immediately recognized an appallingly inflated market. They sat back and watched as other teams paid gruesome prices for the players on their wish list. It’s a tough position for them to be in. Trade away the future for short-term assets? Go all-in on a Chris Sale blockbuster? Or, even, as a contending team, act as sellers to replenish the farm? Every one of these scenarios was discussed.
Luhnow, hardly one to abide by any traditional approach, actually traded away two MLB level relievers for two low-level prospects. That was his grand response to the hated division rival Texas Rangers not only acquiring one of our targets in Carlos Beltran but also swooping in on Jonathan Lucroy. From an outsider’s perspective, that’s the textbook definition of “selling” at the trade deadline.
From an Astros fan’s perspective, that’s Luhnow at his best. Remember when he plucked Francis Martes and David Paulino for next to nothing? Identifying breakout players at the lower levels is Luhnow’s admitted specialty. Scott Feldman was unhappy about his demotion to the bullpen and is a free agent at the end of the season. Guadalupe Chavez is a very pleasant surprise return.
As is Yordan Alvarez. Josh Fields, a 30-years-old reliever with years of team control on his contract, has struggled mightily in Triple-A after a solid 2015 campaign. But the rise of Joseph Musgrove and James Hoyt (more on them later) have ultimately made him expendable. He fetched an intriguing 1B/OF prospect from the Dodgers.
Next: Almost The Return of Beltran