The Houston Astros had a relatively quiet trade deadline.
Yes, the Astros acquired Francisco Liriano, but he has not pitched well in his first two appearances. While it was rumored that they were close on a few trades, nothing got done by the deadline.
As we discussed on Talking Stros last night, fans and national media bashed the Astros on not making a move. The Nationals, Yankees, and Dodgers all made moves to strengthen their weaknesses.
Didn’t address the bullpen needs.
The bullpen appears to be a weakness post deadline, especially with Will Harris going back on the DL. Joe Musgrove has looked good, and Ken Giles is the most reliable reliever at the moment. Kenneth has earned a place in Astro fans circle of trust after a rocky 2016. Chris Devenski has struggled recently as well.
The Astros have depth in the starting rotation even with a Lance McCullers out. However, outside of healthy Dallas Keuchel and McCullers, who could be that third starter in the playoffs? Brad Peacock could, but would his role be better in the bullpen?
What about Collin McHugh or Charlie Morton? A month ago I would have said Mike Fiers, but he has struggled in his past two starts. With the uncertainty with McCullers back issues, the Astros could still be looking for a starting pitcher.
Justin Verlander is available.
No matter how much you trust Jon Morosi, he claimed the Astros were trying to get Justin Wilson and Justin Verlander last month. There was some buzz, but it was unclear how much they discussed a trade. That was then, and this is now. Could Jeff Luhnow be ready to make a move?
According to Anthony Fenech, the Astros had a scout watch Justin Verlander pitch the other day. In that game, Verlander recorded double digit strikeouts. While scouts go watch players play all the time, could there be more behind that tweet?
As expected, Verlander did clear waivers. Now he is available for any team. Morosi again tweeted that the Astros and Tigers have had contact this month about Verlander. He states that he is not sure there is any progression towards a deal.
The reasons a Verlander trade will be hard.
It would be harder to make the deal now because the Astros can not trade anyone on the 40-man roster. To do so, they would have to clear waivers. Francis Martes, Derek Fisher, and J.D. Davis would not clear waivers. They would have to look deeper into the farm system.
Unfortunately, Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley are not on the 40-man roster. Jeff Luhnow said there are no untouchables. It just depends on the player they are getting back in return. They would like to hold onto those two players if possible.
If we are to believe Morosi, it is still not likely that a deal gets done. The big question is would Verlander even accept a deal to Houston as he has a full no trade clause.
Then you have the $56 million guaranteed over the next two seasons plus the remaining salary this year. If Verlander finishes in the top five in Cy Young voting, he has a $22 million vesting option for 2019.
How much the Tigers would pay on that salary would depend on what package they get back. With all that said, it is unlikely to get a deal done. The Astros don’t want to give up the prospects and Tigers don’t want to pay.
Verlander not likely happening.
Even if Verlander is not the pitcher he was when he won Cy Young or MVP, he could have helped the Astros. This could be another case of the Astros trying, but unable to reach a deal. This was an extremely unlikely case anyway. Move on from Verlander.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***