Astros would need to be blown away to trade Collin McHugh as the balance winning and building a farm system.
The Sunday before pitchers and catchers report, Astros rumors have begun emerging. Last week, we heard of the Twins interest in Collin McHugh with a small mention of the Orioles. Then yesterday we heard about the Astros engaging in trade talks for J.T. Realmuto.
While some are not sold on sending Kyle Tucker as part of a deal for Realmuto, others see value in the move. Is it easier to find a catcher with power and speed or an outfielder with the same ability? The answer is clear, the catcher with that ability is very rare. As good a Tucker could be, he is still unproven at the moment.
I still don’t see that trade happening until the trade deadline.
Looking for McHugh?
There is high demand for McHugh now that the Astros rotation has added Gerrit Cole. The problem is, the Astros are not looking to get rid of McHugh. The front office values depth in the rotation and sees McHugh as an asset considering the health issues the rotation has experienced the last two seasons. McHugh is still under team control through 2019.
While McHugh may be the long-reliever for the Astros, I could see him still getting 10-12 starts this year. On a playoff-bound team, you need that backup starter. Brad Peacock has proven that he could be that guy, but he seems to be only a five-inning starter. However, with Joe Musgrove gone, Peacock is needed in the bullpen.
With that being said, the Astros will need to be blown away to trade McHugh. Does that mean that he will bring back 2-3 prospects in a trade? No, but he could bring back a good Low-A prospect ala Francis Martes. The Astros could also get a Triple-A depth prospect as well to help for 2018.
One thing that will not likely happen is McHugh for Zach Britton. While Britton will probably not pitch until June, the Orioles value him higher than McHugh. Another trade idea is to automatically nix a trade for Manny Machado. The two players aren’t on the same level, so don’t go there.
A trade idea.
Maybe the Astros could look at someone like left-handed reliever Tanner Scott who has a plus fastball. He has had a brief taste of the big leagues last year but hasn’t pitched in Triple-A yet. Granted, Scott is the 6th top Orioles prospect. But it would take a player like that to get a deal done.
There are several other depth options in the minor leagues for the Orioles. There are some RHP or outfield prospects to look at. The problem is that the Astros want to win now as well as stock the system with more prospects. We will discuss this tonight on Talking Stros and the CTH podcast.
Which goal do the Astros value more, we will see depending on where McHugh gets traded or not? McHugh is more valuable on the Astros, depending on the return. There is always a surprise young player that impresses in spring training. Maybe later in spring training, a deal can be made, but losing McHugh could hurt the depth of the team.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference and MLB Pipeline***