The Dan Straily trade should make Astros fans apprehensive about trading for a pitcher.
Last spring, Dan Straily reported to the Houston Astros camp expecting to compete for the rotation. After spending most of 2015 with the Triple-A Grizzlies, the team didn’t appear patient with him. The rotation had several options, so the Astros wanted to give him an opportunity somewhere else to make the MLB team.
Jeff Luhnow thought highly of Straily, which is why he was included in the Dexter Fowler trade. With Evan Gattis nursing an injury, they needed a catcher to start the season. The Padres needed a starting pitcher, and they had an extra catcher in Erik Kratz. The two sides exchanged the players, both taking a risk on March 28, 2016. The Astros had a backup catcher, sort of.
The Padres didn’t hold on to Straily that long as he was placed on waivers and the Reds claimed him. The rest is history as he finally showed the promise that the A’s, Cubs, and Astros knew he had. At the end of the 2015 season, Straily told me that he was rediscovering himself. Maybe being claimed by the Reds was the best thing for his career as he went 14-8 with 3.73 ERA in 191 1/3 innings pitched.
While Straily didn’t seem like a big loss at the time for Houston, what Kratz did at the plate for the Astros makes it exponentially worse. He had two hits in 29 at-bats, for a whopping .069 batting average. As soon as Evan Gattis was ready to become the backup catcher, Kratz was released. The Padres and Astros both get the raw end while the Reds enjoyed their spoils.
The Reds get a win-win by claiming Straily.
But wait, there is more. Not only did the Reds get Straily for nothing, they just traded him for three legit prospects. Houston only got a catcher that the Padres would have designated for assignment anyway. Yesterday, the Marlins traded for Straily, for a steep price. The Marlins gave up their number 5 prospect (Luis Castillo), 9th (Austin Brice), and 15th (Isaiah White) per MLB.com. That is three top 15 prospects for a player who was a waiver claim.
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This will make it even less likely that the Astros will be able to trade for Chris Archer, Jose Quintana, or Sonny Gray. It was already a seller’s market with what the White Sox got in return for Chris Sale and Adam Eaton. To give you an example of what that trade would look like, you might want to skip this part of the post.
The equivalent to the Straily trade for the Astros would be Derek Fisher, Franklin Perez, and Cionel Perez. Instead of Fisher, the Reds probably would have wanted David Paulino instead. While that package may not seem major, imagine what it would take to acquire a proven pitcher like the three mentioned above.
You can see how Luhnow has been hesitant to pull the trigger on a trade, giving up Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker, Paulino, and others could be a tough price to pay. You have to give up talent to get talent, but if it means a World Series in Houston again? Maybe we should deal with what we have for now and upgrade at the deadline. Buyers beware!
***Stats from Fangraphs and prospect rankings from MLB.com***