We all expect a blockbuster trade from the Houston Astros. Depending on your belief and opinion of the current front office, it is owner Jim Crane’s money and team, and he has allowed his baseball operations staff go after top talent in late July.
The luxury tax threshold is not limiting general manager James Click’s spending, and while the Astros have lost four draft picks in the past two years, they could be looking to lose more in 2022.
As a penalty for the sign stealing scandal and for going over the CBT, the organization lost and shuffled picks as punishment. But a World Series trophy is within grasp, so here are three bold predictions for the trade deadline that could make this goal more achievable.
The Astros have holes within the bullpen, but could they turn to these three points as well?
Kris Bryant included with Craig Kimbrel
When anyone mentions Kris Bryant, the first thought is “the Astros already have a third baseman.” That isn’t the case anymore for the former MVP. In 2021 across all outfield positions, the right-hander has totaled 389 innings, which shadows his 183.1 innings at third base this season.
The Astros have been linked to Craig Kimbrel of the Chicago Cubs, who would immensely bolster a weakened bullpen. But with both All-Stars looking to be shopped, the Astros would also be adding run support and versatility with a rental like Bryant.
This trade would cost a lot, while it will include current 40-man players and possible prospects, the Astros could even be evaluating a future for Bryant in Houston. If Carlos Correa’s value is too high for Crane, he could turn to Bryant on a shorter deal (more accustomed to Crane’s history) and move Alex Bregman over to shortstop.
The big question mark is about the CBT, and while these two would immensely go over the threshold, their prorated salaries wouldn’t be easy to match with current rostered players.
Trading for a starting pitcher
The bullpen is the weakest link on the team, but like every major deadline, the Astros have unloaded for a top-notch rotational piece. Depending on whether the Washington Nationals buy or sell, my choice would have to be Max Scherzer.
This would be a mind blowing move for all of major league baseball, but compare it to the organization acquiring Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke. Scherzer is on the final year of his current deal, and at 36-years-old, the ace could be wanting to be locked up until he is about 40-years-old.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
Here is where the Astros come in. The right-hander is not regressing with age, as he started in his fourth All-Star game this past Tuesday. With Verlander and Greinke off the books, the pitcher to have the big payroll contract could be Scherzer. And before you think that he wouldn’t want to be in Houston because of the sign stealing scandal, most players don’t care anymore.
Trading Forrest Whitley
A high-leverage arm will cost a highly ranked prospect. While missing all of the 2021 season due to Tommy John surgery, Forrest Whitley isn’t getting the chatter he would be getting right now. As the top ranked pitching prospect in the system, the right-hander could be on the forefront of the mind’s of opposing front offices.
While not having a 2020 or 2021 season to post career changing numbers, Whitley would be packaged for a top relief or starting pitcher. The farm system is already holding on by a thread, but it is about winning now and having to give up on their highest ranked hurler.
With the farm system the central thought, Triple-A holds a few names that are posting worthy numbers of being traded or promoted next season. The outfielding room has Jake Meyers, Ronnie Dawson, Jose Siri and Bryan De La Cruz, who all have numbers worthy of discussion.
The addition of the “Triple-A Final Stretch” entails that there will be a Triple A West champion (best winning percentage) after the original schedule is completed, but also a prize for the team with the best winning percentage through the conclusion of the “Triple-A Final Stretch.” Tie breakers are also in effect.
This offers more time to evaluate talent for a dead year of no postseason. While it comes after the trade deadline, it won’t affect July but could help with the offseason and weighing options before spring training.