With a battered rotation and his poor performance, is Alex Bregman more valuable to the Astros as a trade chip?
After being drafted second overall in the 2015 MLB Draft, Alex Bregman ascended to the majors in record time. He became the first position player from that draft to reach the majors. He debuted with the Astros on July 25th, 2016 against the New York Yankees.
Bregman went 0-4 in that game, foreshadowing what would be a poor start for the LSU product. But after getting his feet wet, Bregman went on to put up a solid first year in the majors. He hit .264 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs. Not bad production for only 49 games in the majors.
But entering his first full season as the starting third baseman, Bregman has struggled. He has posted a 101 OPS+ this season, barely above league average. His poor play and the emergence of Marwin Gonzalez (187 OPS+ this season) have left many wondering if Bregman could be on the move come the trade deadline.
From Top Prospect to Trade Chip
Bregman was once the top prospect in a loaded Astros farm system in 2015. But he didn’t stay at the top for long, making his major league debut in 2016. So how does a former second overall pick become a potential trade chip in his second year in the majors?
It’s more about the team around Bregman than Bregman himself. Sure, if he were producing at a better rate, he would be a lock to stay in Houston. But with the best record in the majors at 44-19 and concerns about the starting rotation, the time to make a big trade is now.
The emergence of Marwin Gonzalez may also force Jeff Luhnow’s hand into making Bregman available via trade. The long-time utility man has finally found his stride at the plate, hitting .322 with 12 home runs and 34 RBIs this season. But if poor play by Bregman and the emergence of Marwin Gonzalez isn’t enough, a battered rotation may push Bregman to the trade block.
The Astros have had multiple questions about their rotation despite the teams’ 44-19 record. With Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton making multiple trips to the DL and the up and down performance of Joe Musgrove and Mike Fiers, the rotation could use some stability. Even with the strong performance of Brad Peacock, the Astros should look to improve.
Jeff Luhnow has made a case for himself as one of the best General Managers in the major leagues. He knows Bregman’s potential and his worth more than anyone. So when I say Bregman should be in consideration for trade discussions, know that Luhnow won’t be letting him go for pennies on the dollar.
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Only legitimate number one or number two starters will be in consideration, and that could be the piece that gets the Astros their first World Series title in franchise history. With that in mind, the Astros should only be targeting the best available starters.
Athletics starter Sonny Gray could be one of those starters. After a rough 2016 season, Gray has come back down to earth in 2017. And while his 4.37 ERA is not that pretty, his 1.268 WHIP and 3.36 FIP are promising signs. The Astros wouldn’t part with Bregman for just Gray, as they would need more compensation given Gray’s recent struggles.
Another option could be Twins starter, Ervin Santana. Santana has lifted himself into early AL Cy Young conversations with his 2.20 ERA and minuscule 0.88 WHIP. But at 34 years old, Santana wouldn’t be the only player the Astros would get in return.
While Bregman still has the potential to develop into an above average major league player, his value to the Astros may be highest as a trade chip. And if the move vaulted the Astros to a World Series title, would anyone question it?
***Statistics and data courtesy of Baseball-Reference and MLB.com***