The Houston Astros might’ve fallen short on the South Side of Chicago on Friday night, but they could strike gold on the North Side. The Chicago White Sox took their first victory from Houston this season in 10-1 fashion.
While Jake Odorizzi saw some command and offspeed inconsistencies on Friday, the Astros still have an opportunity to bolster different parts of the roster. From the bullpen to the rotation, there are All-Star arms on the trade block.
The Chicago Cubs have begun shopping players in response to their recent losing streak, and while linked to Craig Kimbrel, there are a few Cubs that the Astros should steer clear of. With Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez being trade topics, these two don’t show much value to Houston’s needs this season, so they would obviously be left out.
Depending what the front office addresses, these are three players that should be left out of discussion.
RHP Ryan Tepera
Addressing the bullpen will take a high-leverage arm to join the mix, and while the Cubs have a deep set of relievers, Ryan Tepera should not be an option. Although mistakingly receiving an MVP vote, the right-hander has posted a 3.20 ERA over 39.1 innings in 2021 as of Friday.
While not being hit hard this season, Tepera isn’t the high-leverage pitcher to push the bullpen’s status higher than it already is. The right-hander is only making $800,000 this season per Baseball Reference, and while a prorated salary wouldn’t bang up the payroll, the Astros could do so much better than a lateral move.
Although a Houston native, the right-hander’s five-pitch arsenal is not what the Astros are needing in a setup role. While looking for a fast-pitcher hurler, his fastball sits low 90s, but if he does end up in the discussion, it should be a throw in for one of their highly sought out players.
RHP Kyle Hendricks
The rotation has shown a lot of depth, but as seen in recent seasons, the Astros have added an elite starter to the mix. For the Cubs, Kyle Hendricks could be shopped, but it shouldn’t be to the Astros. This feels like another lateral move to a pitcher with a 3.65 ERA.
The minor-league rotational depth has run thin due to injuries since spring training, but the addition of Hendricks wouldn’t bolster anything. While mainly a contact pitcher, the right-hander has surrendered the most hits and home runs of any pitcher in the National League all season.
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Catcher Willson Contreras
Behind the dish, we have a seen a lack of platooning between Martin Maldonado and Jason Castro. Injuries, personal catchers and matchups could be contributors, but it doesn’t mean the Astros need to address the position right away.
Korey Lee should be an untouchable prospect at the deadline, and with Maldonado and Castro signed through the 2022 season, Lee is the future for the franchise. While crushing it in Triple-A, the right-hander might not be a late-season call up this season but could see his first 40-man stint this offseason.
Willson Contreras has been able to do it in the box and behind the plate in his six-year career, but the job isn’t worth the attention with the current state of the bullpen and rotation. The right-hander is having a down year, slashing .233/.343/.415 as of Friday.
With a new found rise in frame rate over the past few season, Contreras is flipping from a bat-first catcher to a glove-first one. He currently ranks in the 67th percentile, one behind that of Maldonado and five ahead of Castro. His OPS is higher than both of the Astros’ backstops, but the Astros could enter the postseason again down in the catching room.
While these three have no rumor of being traded to Houston, they are my three to avoid in trade talks. There are other players in Chicago and on the market to explore, while the three listed aren’t addressing the needs to the fullest extent.
The Astros close out their three-game set with the White Sox on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. with Framber Valdez matching up against left-hander Carlos Rodon. In the realm of rehab assignment, Josh James took a pitch back off his body, but there is no further word on how it will affect his progressions.