Minor league prospects are the lifeblood of a major league organization. But there are times to “cash in” those chips for proven major league talent.
Looking ahead, the Astros are approaching a crossroads. Not only does the front office have to plan for the 2019 season, their course of action this winter will impact future seasons. Based on the available assets on hand, Houston is likely a buyer this offseason.
General manager Jeff Luhnow has proved in the past that he isn’t afraid to trade away prospects to address the major league roster. His trade a few offseason ago for Evan Gattis and James Hoyt stands out along with the Carlos Gomez deal. Mike Fiers was the saving grace of that deal. In return, the Astros parted ways players on the upswing in Mike Foltynewicz and Josh Hader.
So, who are the top three trade chips this offseason for Houston?
Trade Chip #1: Kyle Tucker
There is no doubt that the Astros have high hopes for the age-21 outfielder. Although the Pacific League is known for inflating a hitter’s numbers, a 155 wRC+ is still noting to sneeze at for a young prospect.
2018 Minor League Numbers: .332/.400/.590, 24 HR, 93 RBI, 10.3% BB%, 18.1% K%, 155 wRC+
Yes, I do realize that Tucker’s major league debut was less-than-stellar, but he was the unluckiest hitter based on batted ball data. And if I see one more comment how he is already, I’m going to internally scream.
That said, I’d imagine the Astros, along with other teams, are aware of Tucker’s unlucky showing in 2018. I’d doubt it takes any luster off his prospect star, which could attract rebuilding clubs looking to acquire more young talent. The Marlins are an automatic fit based on the continued trade rumors surrounding All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto. Oh, look, the Astros have a need at catcher. A potential match, right?
For Houston, the key question surrounding Tucker is whether they feel that he would provide more value over next half decade or so than an established veteran catcher or starting pitcher?