Astros rumors: Analysis into an unlikely Jacob deGrom trade

Jun 12, 2017; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) pitches during the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 12, 2017; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) pitches during the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

Another day, another Astros rumor involving a starting pitcher from outside the organization.

In one corner, you have the best team in baseball, the Astros, who arguably need a starting pitcher for their playoff push. In the other corner, you have the Mets, who have decided to rebuild following their disappointing start to the 2017 season. The length of their rebuild is to be determined.

Combine the two teams and their respective circumstances, and you may have the makings of mutual trade interest.

Per Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated a few days ago, he noted that the Astros “would love” to acquire a certain Mets pitcher: Jacob deGrom.

This trade scenario makes sense, in theory, for both franchises. But I would like to note that Verducci did mention in his column the Mets have given “no indication” that they “would even consider” in parting ways with deGrom. But this is still an interesting scenario to examine. After all, plenty can change between now and the trade deadline in July.

Regardless of how likely, or unlikely, the scenario, the Astros wouldn’t mind adding another quality starting pitcher to their loaded roster. They also have the prospects that should interest the Mets. And the Mets, let’s be honest, need prospects.

I am sure by now that most, if not everyone, who reads baseball news on a consistent basis are familiar with deGrom’s career up till this point. But for the sake of this article being even slightly more informative, let’s examine deGrom’s numbers.

2017 statistics: 89 IP, 28.1% K%, 9.6% BB%, 17.3% HR/FB, 3.94 ERA, 3.90 FIP, 3.52 xFIP

At first glance, the 29-year old has been a solid major league pitcher this season. While the ERA and FIP is a tad high for a pitcher that would cost multiple prospects, it’s definitely within the area Houston needs from a starting pitcher.

The Astros should have some concerns about deGrom, though.

For example, deGrom’s ERA, FIP and xFIP in 2016 was noticeably higher than his first two seasons.

2014: 2.69 ERA, 2.67 FIP, 3.03 xFIP

2015: 2.54 ERA, 2.70 FIP, 2.92 xFIP

2016: 3.04 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 3.47 xFIP

When you compare these figures with his 2017 results thus far, the concern seems to be justified on the surface. And his walk rate has increased noticeably this season compared to last by about 3.6%. This could be partially explained by his 4.4% increase in strikeouts thus far in 2017.

If we dig deeper, though, we will find that his home run per fly ball rate has also notably increased.

2014: 6.1% HR/FB

2015: 9.5% HR/FB

2016: 11.5% HR/FB

This season, deGrom’s home run-to-fly ball rate has climbed even further to 17.3%. This is, um, a bit alarming.

Of course, the Astros could see something that can be fixed in deGrom. Pitching coach Brent Strom is known for getting more out of pitchers with less talent. Despite his issues this season and the alarming increase in his peripherals, it’s difficult to find a pitcher who can throw a four-seam fastball with an average velocity of 95 MPH.

The Mets will rightly ask for a hefty return in any trade involving deGrom. Even with his performance issues noted above, deGrom is still under club control through 2020, his age-32 season. This holds quite a bit of value in today’s baseball landscape.

Next: Astros have a good problem to have in a deep rotation

But say the Mets eventually become truly inclined in trading away deGrom, then the Astros will likely have to offer one or two of the following prospects if they enter the fray: Francis Martes, David Paulino, Kyle Tucker and Derek Fisher. Throw in another prospect or two who are not highly ranked and you may have a deal. It’s no doubt a steep price to pay. But this a scenario Houston’s front office should consider, no matter how unlikely it may actually be in reality.

**Statistics and information courtesy of Fangraphs and Spotrac**