Luhnow confirms Astros targeting pitchers in trade market

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 17: President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jeff Luhnow addresses the media prior to the Game Four of the American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox at Minute Maid Park on October 17, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 17: President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jeff Luhnow addresses the media prior to the Game Four of the American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox at Minute Maid Park on October 17, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Astros GM Jeff Luhnow has confirmed the team will be looking for pitching help in advance of the trade deadline.

Yesterday I noted the fact that the Astros are getting no help from their top minor league arms, and that it could cause them to pursue pitching help. Lo and behold, Jeff Luhnow confirmed just that to the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome.

Luhnow noted the team won’t specifically be targeting starters or relievers, but rather whoever can best help the team get outs in October. They have the luxury of targeting both thanks to the versatility of one particular player.

The Key

Brad Peacock‘s ability to pitch as a starter or a reliever provides the Astros with great flexibility. If they acquire a starter, Peacock can shift to the bullpen once the playoffs roll around. A team only needs four starters in the postseason, so a rotation of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley and the new acquisition would be stout. Peacock as a multi-inning weapon in the ‘pen has certainly worked out well in the past.

If they acquire a reliever, Peacock can remain in the rotation as the fourth starter. This would also allow the Astros to target someone who could help against specific hitters the team may face in October. Hector Rondon, Will Harris, Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna make up a formidable back end of the bullpen, but they’ll need more than four guys to get key outs late in games.

Team Could Make Big Splash for Starter

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While the Astros will surely be checking in on every available pitcher, this could be an opportunity to pull off a blockbuster move. On one hand it would create a “Big Three” with Verlander and Cole in the rotation. It would also fix the revolving door that has been the fifth rotation spot, with Collin McHugh, Corbin Martin and Framber Valdez all failing to keep hold of it.

On another hand, there’s a great deal of uncertainty in the future for the rotation. Cole, Miley and McHugh are all set to hit free agency this offseason. Lance McCullers Jr. should be back in 2020, and Verlander and Peacock will be back as well, but that’s it. There are several internal candidates to fill the last two rotation spots next year, but no one currently stands out above the others.

If the Astros want to remain contenders next year, they may need to acquire another front-line starter either at the trade deadline or in the offseason. Might as well do it now so you can have that arm for your postseason run as well.

Plus, Kyle Tucker can be used as the centerpiece of such a deal. I still believe Tucker will become a productive big league hitter, but he’s now blocked in Houston. George Springer, Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick and Jake Marisnick will all be back next year, and Yordan Alvarez has earned regular DH duties.

This makes Tucker expendable, and many teams would love to have him. Cleveland has a big need in the outfield, so that could be a perfect match right there.

Astros send down Framber Valdez, call up Cy Sneed. dark. Next

Either way, the next five weeks leading up to the July 31 trade deadline are going to be fun. Buckle up, Astros fans, because Luhnow is going shopping.

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