Astros may not want to get into a bidding war for a starter

OAKLAND, AZ - JUNE 04: Starting pitcher Sonny Gray
OAKLAND, AZ - JUNE 04: Starting pitcher Sonny Gray /

Welcome to the 2017 All-Star break with the Houston Astros already winning their 60th game.

The Astros have done so with Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, and Charlie Morton missing time. Collin McHugh, who has yet to make an MLB start, gets his third rehab start tomorrow. This rotation is getting healthy with the trade deadline approaching.

While many names have come up for the Astros with the trade deadline approaches, one name stands out. That name is Sonny Gray, who we have often discussed on Talking Stros. According to Jane Lee, “The Astros have been heavily linked to Gray.” Gray has a 4-4 record with a 4.00 ERA while striking out 74 hitters in 78 1/3 innings.

They will also monitor the Justin Verlander chase. Yes, it would be against what the Astros are trying to do if they trade for Verlander. Not acquiring the pitcher, but the large salary that would be attached. He has a prorated $28 million dollar salary for this season. He also has a total of $56 million over the next two years with a $22 million vesting option for 2020. Wouldn’t be surprised if Astros scouts watched Verlander pitched yesterday.

The Astros have become a team that seems unlikely to take on salary like that. Although, the Astros currently have the highest payroll in team history at the moment. Why would they consider Verlander? Maybe they can take on more money for fewer prospects. This is something that Ken Rosenthal has reported is not the case. The Tigers asking price is steep, but it may come down closer to the trade deadline.

The price too high?

According to Jon Heyman, the White Sox are asking for the moon for Jose Quintana, so he feels like a Yankees target. Gerrit Cole may not even hit the market, and we are still trying to decide if the Blue Jays will be in a sell mode. At this point, not sure if the Rays will sell Chris Archer as they reportedly maintain a high asking price.

Gray is out there for grabs, and the Athletics are reportedly ready to move him soon. With one of the worst records in baseball, the A’s are ready to cash in their trade chips. There is reportedly mutual interests between the two teams, but the Astros may want to wait till closer to the deadline.

The Astros have pretty much guaranteed a spot in the playoff. According to Shi Davidi, they can focus on getting the team playoff ready. They have a 16.5 game lead in the AL West and the best record in the AL. They don’t have the best record anymore. The Dodgers are 61-29 after a hot stretch.

A trade would be to improve playoff hopes.

Most teams trade to get to the playoffs, that’s what Buster Olney recently told me. The Stros would trade to upgrade their rotation. Don’t look for them to trade for another guy. They have those already. The Stros are looking for an impact starter, which Gray fits that mold. They are also looking for someone to be around for a few seasons. However, they don’t want to pay a lot for that starter.

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Jeff Luhnow has said that a potential trade could hurt. The Astros have a plan on how much they are willing to give up for an upgrade in the rotation. Tim Kurkjian said last week before the All-Star selection show that Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley are close to untouchable. You may be able to get Gray or Verlander without giving those two up.

That is unless multiple teams get involved in trying to acquire Gray. If the Astros get into a bidding war, at some point they may just walk away. They won’t make a trade just to trade. They are still trying for continued succeeds. The front office may think they have enough in the rotation. However, they probably need to trade for a starter.

The Houston front office is not in a rush, as Jon Heyman recently noted. They will look analytically at those pitchers available. As Peter Gammon’s Tweet above says, Luhnow could have a ‘keep me in mind offer’ on Gray. The reason to wait till closer to the deadline is to know who is on the market.

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One more starter would give the Astros a better chance. A quality starter could also help limit the innings used by the bullpen. This is what we discussed on Talking Stros. Happy hunting Jeff!

***Stats and salary information from Baseball-Reference***