The Houston Astros made sense for Blake Snell, at least on paper, but the price to acquire him was far too much for them to pursue.
The Houston Astros made sense for Blake Snell. He would have given the team the frontline starter they desperately need to replace Justin Verlander who is out for most, if not all, of the 2021 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
Instead, Snell is being traded to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Luis Patino, Francisco Mejia, Blake Hunt and Cole Wilcox. The price is considered by many executives to be steep – Patino is among the top pitching prospects in the game and Wilcox was a first-round talent in the 2020 MLB Draft – but the Padres were willing to pay it since Snell is under contract for three years and $39 million.
While Snell’s contract is team friendly, it was not a deal the Astros would have done. The front office, led by general manager James Click, is working to replenish a bare farm system. They are missing their top picks in the next two drafts as punishment for the sign stealing scandal. And if the Astros hope to continue to compete in the future, they will stockpile those assets – not trade them as they are churn their roster.
With Snell off the board, it is possible the Astros look at Joe Musgrove or other top starting pitchers on the market. Even then, the price to acquire Musgrove was already high and with team’s missing on both Snell and Yu Darvish, it is possible the price for Musgrove goes even higher as rival teams turn to their Plan Bs.
The most likely scenario, however, remains that the Astros add a veteran starter on a cheap contract with the hope that pitching coach Brent Strom maximizes their value. The bulk of the Astros’ money will go toward the outfield and upgrading the backend of the bullpen, with Michael Brantley and Liam Hendriks being among their many targets.