Astros’ Francis Martes joins the untradeable prospect list?
By Eric Huysman
The Houston Astros could use another starting pitcher to add depth.
With a packed rotation as is, it would be better to get a top of the rotation pitcher, such as Jose Quintana. They have enough back-of-the-rotation guys. The Astros have already come out and said that Alex Bregman is not going anywhere. They have missed out on Chris Archer and Drew Smyly but struck out trying to acquire Archer as well. Many of the experts think the Stros need one more top pitcher to become World Series contenders.
This week, the Astros announced all the non-roster players who will be attending Spring Training this year. One of those players invited is the top Houston prospect, starting pitcher Francis Martes. Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the 29th overall prospect in baseball, Martes has some high expectations.
When other teams begin trade discussions with the Astros, you can imagine that the names Martes and Bregman are the first to come up. Rumors have it that the White Sox are really high on Martes. The Astros reportedly turned down Martes, Kyle Tucker, and Joe Musgrove for Quintana. I assumed that Musgrove was the deciding factor for the Astros, but could it have been Martes instead?
A run at Chris Archer.
According to Peter Gammons on MLB Network, the Astros made a very uncharacteristic run at Archer. They reportedly offered a king’s ransom for Archer, including Martes, Tucker, David Paulino, and two other prospects. The Rays said no, but it still leaves questions about how the Astros value Martes. Is he only available for certain players, but others, not available.
Luhnow found Martes in the lower levels of Marlins system. He was able to get Martes included in the trade that was known as the Jarred Cosart trade. While there were other names involved, Martes could be the biggest name of the trade. When he was signed in 2012 by the Marlins, he was throwing in the high 80’s. Now, he is throwing in the mid-nineties, topping out at 98mph, with a great curveball.
While Luhnow has missed in a few trades, acquiring Martes was a great move. Should he be traded, the Astros could be trading away the top of the rotation pitcher. The Stros have added some veterans this year for a run for the playoffs. There will be some pressure for the team to add a starter at the trade deadline, but Martes could be the answer.
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Listen to what Talking Stros had to say.
On last night’s Talking Stros, Brandon and I discussed the value of Martes compared to Tucker and Musgrove. He felt that the Astros probably value Musgrove and Tucker above Martes. Musgrove is a proven MLB arm, and Tucker represents an impressive bat. We had Myles Straw on the show last night, and he raved about Tucker’s talents.
Martes will open some eyes in big league camp this spring. He will not make the team but could have a Chris Devenski like impact at some point in 2017. With the Hooks last year, Martes had a 9-6 record with a 3.30 ERA. He has improved some of his control issues and had 131 strikeouts in 125 1/3 innings.
Next: Astros arbitration news: Keuchel, Marisnick, and Springer
The White Sox could be generating all these other suitors just to try to get Houston to raise their offer. Should the Astros not acquire a pitcher before the season, look for them to do so before the trade deadline. Will they include Martes then? By that time, Martes could be engrained on the 25-man roster. There will be no Quintana without Martes though.
***Stats via Baseball-Reference and MLB Pipeline***