Astros: Looking at potential trade target Matthew Boyd

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 28: Matthew Boyd #48 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 28, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 28: Matthew Boyd #48 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 28, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /
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The Astros are rumored to have interest in trading for Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd.

In their quest to add to a pitching staff that desperately needs help, the Astros will undoubtedly be considering all available pitchers. One such pitcher is Tigers southpaw Matthew Boyd, and MLB Network’s Jon Morosi has reported that the Astros are interested.

Boyd’s name may continue to come up during the next few weeks, so it’s a good time to see what all the fuss is about. For what it’s worth, Morosi also reported that Jeff Luhnow has balked at the idea of trading top prospect Kyle Tucker for Boyd, so it’s worth looking into whether Boyd would be worth it.

The Case For Him

The 28-year-old Boyd was drafted in the sixth round by the Blue Jays in 2013 after pitching at Oregon State. He came to Detroit in the July 2015 trade that sent David Price to Toronto.

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So far this season, Boyd has posted a 6-6 record and 3.87 ERA in 18 starts. He’s posted sterling strikeout and walk rates of 11.9 per nine innings and 1.7 per nine, respectively. This translates to a league-leading strikeout-to-walk ratio.

His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is slightly better than his ERA (3.56), and ERA+ pegs him as 22 percent better than a league average pitcher. On the whole, he’s posted 2.9 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) so far in 2019.

Perhaps even more attractive is that he’s under team control for three additional seasons, which would give the Astros more stability in a rotation picture that’s rather uncertain going into 2020.

The Case Against Him

The main concern I have is whether Boyd’s performance this season is sustainable. While he’s certainly putting up some excellent numbers, they are far and away better than anything he’s done in the big leagues thus far. While it is possible for a player to fully break out at age 28, it’s nonetheless something to consider.

His strikeout and walk rates are significantly better than in any of his previous campaigns. Before this season, his previous career bests were 8.4 strikeouts per nine and 2.7 walks per nine, so he has made a tremendous jump in those stats this season.

He’s not far removed from a 2017 season that saw him post a 5.27 ERA in 26 appearances, and this is his first season in which he’s performed better than league average. The Astros will undoubtedly delve deeper into the analytics to see if they think this new-look Boyd is here to stay.

If they buy into it, they may end up having to include Tucker. There will certainly be competition for Boyd, and considering he’s affordably under team control for three more seasons, his price tag will be significant. It may just take including Tucker to outbid other suitors.

For me, I would be willing to include Tucker if it meant acquiring another co-ace or a clear No. 2-quality starter who can help the Astros both this year and next. I’m just not sure Boyd is that guy when looking at his track record, so I would be hesitant to trade Tucker for him.

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We’ve got less than three weeks until the trade deadline, so stay tuned. The Astros should be active, whether it’s for Boyd or someone else.

***Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference***

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