All successful teams eventually go through a stage where they must determine what to do about top prospects. The Astros are no different as the team enters a hopefully long era of competitiveness.
Houston now finds itself as an organization having to prioritize the major league roster in lieu of developing a deep minor league system. Instead, the Astros may need to dangle top prospects in trade discussions to land the one player that puts the team over the top.
The questions is whether any of Houston’s top prospects should be considered untouchable in trade talks.
When you think of the Astros top prospects, these are usually the names that come to mind (in no particular order).
A combination of those six are what it would probably to take to start trade talks for a notable major league starting pitcher or position player. Shoot, the price is just going to be steep.
Should any of the six mentioned above be considered “untouchable”?
This may sound like an easy way out, but it just honestly depends on the return that the Astros stand to receive. And also where the team realistically stands. Proper context of the situation at that particular moment in time is needed.
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For example, Houston’s front office felt that a trade package of Tucker, Martes, and Joseph Musgrove was too steep of a price for Jose Quintana. While Quintana (20.5 career WAR) would’ve been a great addition to the rotation, the Astros had their own reasons to not make the deal. After all, parting ways with your top pitching and position prospects in a single deal is hard to swallow.
Separately though, it is hard to envision that any of the Astros top prospects are truly untouchable. And there are a few reasons for that.
For one, Houston is no longer in a rebuilding phase.
If this were the Astros just three to four years ago, it would be hard to envision any of the top five to six prospects being available to other teams. But since the team is in the early stages of what could possibly be a run of continued success, then it is easier to part ways with prospects for the right price.
The Quintana situation from above does actually fit this mold. It is hard to envision the Astros even entertaining trade discussions involving Carlos Correa or Lance McCullers from a few years ago for a player similar to Quintana’s profile. It just didn’t make much sense. Nowadays, it seems to make more sense to take a leap on making a trade similar to the one the White Sox were offering to Houston.
After all, not all prospects are considered equal.
I’m not saying that the current group of top prospects won’t be productive someday. It’s just rather unlikely that most have the same ceiling that Correa possesses.
At the same time, not all prospects pan out. The list of prospects that many placed their hope in is quite long. The value of these prospects may never be higher than it is right now.
Following this long winded explanation, let me state this: there’s probably no untouchable prospect in the Astros system today.
It is hard to envision Houston turning down a player like Quintana if the White Sox switch out someone like Tucker for another prospect or two. Maybe not in the top five? There is no point for the Astros to go full-on prospect hoarding now.
However, the Astros would be wise not to make unwise trades. Just because you like a player doesn’t mean you mortgage the farm.
**Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference**