With other potential targets not panning out, the Astros might be wise to look west for pitching help.
The Astros are known to be looking to add to their pitching staff with the trade deadline coming up on Wednesday. With the Mets bizarrely acquiring Marcus Stroman on Sunday, one big potential target came off the board. Speaking of the Mets, they’re throwing a big wrench into this pitching market.
Many fans have been clamoring for the Astros to acquire Noah Syndergaard, who has been rumored to be available. But the reports are that the Mets are not budging from their asking price and the Astros are unwilling to meet it, meaning they may have to move on to other targets.
I’m not overly enamored with Matthew Boyd, and the Tigers might not end up trading him anyway. Madison Bumgarner also may be staying put, and I’ll take a hard pass on adding Tyler (Trevor) Bauer. With those out of the mix, who’s left? Enter the Snakes, who have two strong starting pitchers potentially available.
The Case for Robbie Ray
The Astros are known to be interested in the left-handed Ray, who would slot into the middle of the rotation alongside Wade Miley. Ray is a much different pitcher than Miley, however, as he’s averaged 12 strikeouts per nine innings each year since 2017. He does have a tendency to issue too many free passes, but I’m sure Brent Strom could find a way to help him cut down on those.
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On the season, Ray is 9-7 with a 3.91 ERA. He’s made 23 starts so far, having been blessed with good health. He’s also under team control through next season via arbitration, so this wouldn’t be a rental. Ray could slot in behind Justin Verlander should both Gerrit Cole and Miley depart via free agency.
As for what it would take, including Forrest Whitley would be an overpay, with respect to Jon Morosi. Perhaps a trade centered around J.B. Bukauskas and Derek Fisher would be enough to entice Arizona, though they would probably want another decent prospect in addition to that. Still, for a year and a half of a 27-year-old lefty who strikes out hitters at the rate Ray does, it may be worth it.
The Case for Zack Greinke
Greinke would provide a bigger boost than Ray, as he would form a legitimate Big Three with Verlander and Cole. He’s not a huge strikeout pitcher, but he’s a veteran in the midst of a great season who rarely walks guys and doesn’t give up many long balls.
The 35-year-old Greinke is 10-4 with a 2.87 ERA on the season, leading the NL in WHIP at 0.943. He’s also durable, having made no fewer than 26 starts in every season since 2008. He’s also the reigning five-time Gold Glove winner in the NL.
The main impediment to a trade is Greinke’s salary. He’s earning $34.5 million this year, plus $35 million in each of the next two years. Astros owner Jim Crane has stated a desire to stay under the luxury tax, so Arizona would have to eat a chunk of Greinke’s salary to make a deal palatable for Houston. But to do that, the D’backs would want a bigger return in exchange.
The Astros wouldn’t deal Whitley or Kyle Tucker (or Seth Beer) for Greinke, but Bukauskas would be the start of a package. It would probably take another Top-10 prospect plus another player such as Fisher or Tony Kemp to get a deal done if Arizona absorbs some of Greinke’s salary.
This would be a big commitment for the Astros to give up a strong trade package for a 35-year-old who’ll be making $35 million in two years, but Greinke is on a Hall-of-Fame trajectory. He’s just as effective as ever, lending credence to the notion that he’ll still be effective in two years. Adding an arm like Greinke’s could give the Astros the game’s best rotation to pair with an imposing lineup.
Much can happen over the next two days, so stay tuned to CTH for all the latest news.