Do the Astros really have a left field problem and how can they fix?

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 09: Kyle Tucker #3 of the Houston Astros flies out in the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park on July 9, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JULY 09: Kyle Tucker #3 of the Houston Astros flies out in the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park on July 9, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Now that the Astros have addressed two of the roster needs, could they be looking at adding a bat as well?

The Astros added to their catching depth by trading for Martin Maldonado from the Angels. On paper, it wouldn’t seem that they need too much more. It would be nice to add another reliever, which they did last night in Ryan Pressly. Could they still add another reliever? Most of the impact ones have been already traded. That is unless the Nationals decide to sell as I wrote about a couple of days ago.

Jeff Luhnow said after the Maldonado trade that they are mostly looking to add a pitcher via Brian McTaggart. He wouldn’t rule out adding another bat. After both trades had been finalized, Luhnow still hints at adding a bat via Chandler Rome.

What about Tucker?

Maybe there was some logic behind Ken Rosenthal’s tweet earlier. Rosenthal suggested that the Astros could be looking for a left fielder with Kyle Tucker struggling through 43 at-bats. Left fielders are batting .241 (.698 OPS) with eight homers and 41 RBI via Baseball-Reference before last nights game.

Tucker is batting .154 with no homers and three RBI with an OPS of .463. He has also added a stolen base, but more will come once he gets on base more. As he adjusts to big league pitching, he will be the answer in left field. In my opinion, it is too soon to call Tucker a bust, similarly to what Keith Law tweeted. The front office has a few days to evaluate Tucker before deciding on pulling the trigger on a trade. It was odd that they didn’t start him last night.

Who are some realistic, not Harper, targets?

Tucker has a bright future, but I wouldn’t blame the Astros for looking for a better option for 2018. No, that player is not Bryce Harper, but he would change the dynamics of this roster. Outside of the Maldonado trade, they don’t like to trade for high price rental players. There are a few targets out there, but will the Astros bite. Names like Adam Jones, Shin-Soo Choo, Avisail Garcia, Nick Castellanos, Derek Dietrich, Curtis Granderson, and Billy Hamilton.

Like all trades the Astros make, the player has to be a significant upgrade to justify the players they are giving up. Dietrich is probably the least likely target because he has two years of control left for the rebuilding Marlins. They have already had their fire sale and may want to build around J.T. Realmuto and Dietrich. However, he does fit what the Astros could need. But Tucker could offer the same production with time.

Castellanos also would be a tough get as he is becoming the face of the franchise as Miguel Cabrera struggles to stay healthy. Castellanos has one year remaining of team control before he likely leaves via free agency. Choo could be had, but he comes with a Justin Verlander like salary of $20 and $21 million in 2019 and 2020. Choo put on a good audition last night.

Before the game last night, Luhnow said they were talking to 6-7 teams about trading for a reliever or a bat. They did make the trade for Pressly, so we will see what the next step is for the Astros. The problem is if they add an outfielder under team control beyond 2018, it will stall Tucker’s development with a loaded outfield.

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I would love to add Dietrich, who is batting .283 with 13 homers and 36 RBI, stats via Baseball-Reference. He is the leadoff hitter for the Marlins, but won’t come cheap. A few days left before we know what the near future holds for Tucker.