Option 1: Utilizing the trade market
The first thing to consider is who Houston would put out there as trade bait. The one thing that Jeff Luhnow has made very clear is that top-tier prospects will not be included in any trade talks. So it can be safely assumed that, at the very least, Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker will still be wearing Astros uniforms come 2019.
Beyond the untouchables, Whitley, Tucker and possibly Yordan Alvarez, the Astros have a pretty deep pool of pitching and position prospects that could be offered up in any given trade scenario. Houston could conceivably afford to lose two or three players with promising forecasts and not mortgage the future in the process. Cionel Perez, J.B. Bukauskas, Framber Valdez and Freudis Nova are just a few names to mention.
Some of the teams seeking a deal for their elite pitchers would undoubtedly require a major leaguer in any swap, to help fill their immediate needs. Luhnow has also talked of adding another bat to the Astros’ lineup. Depending on what position the newly acquired bat would occupy, Houston could perhaps part ways with the likes of Tony Kemp, Jake Marisnick or Yuli Gurriel.
There are quite a few big-name pitchers being trotted out for those teams in need. Needless to say, there are also quite a few teams battling it out to scoop up these same pitchers. Noah Syndergaard, Zack Greinke, Corey Kluber, and recently, Madison Bumgarner are just a few names involved in the latest trade rumors around the MLB. Obviously, pitchers of this caliber would most likely come at a high cost but could be well worth it.
Houston would then have to weigh out the cost of trading for any one of these pitchers. What players would the other team want in return? What is the length and amount of the existing contract of the pitcher coming our way? The age of the incoming pitcher and how many more serviceable years does he have left. But as we’ve seen, pitching coach Brent Strom seems to do wonders with whoever enters the scene.