If the Astros don’t go the Ruf route and instead deem it necessary to fully displace Yuli Gurriel from the starting job at first base, Garrett Cooper should be a prime target. Not too long ago, the Marlins sat just 2 games under .500 and were likely considering at least a hybrid approach at the deadline. Since then, though, they have lost Jazz Chisholm, the cornerstone of their lineup, due to a back injury, and gotten swept at home in a key series against the Phillies in which they only scored a single run. As a result, they appear to be gearing up to be sellers again, and there are few better fits for Cooper than in Houston.
He has been fully healthy all season for the first time in his career, and currently boasts a 119 OPS+ coming off his first-ever all-star appearance. He is slugging just .426, so he gets it done with more of a contact-and-discipline approach as opposed to just hitting homers all the time. He does an exemplary job of hitting the ball to all fields, and has a batting average over .300 against both fastballs and changeups. The high-contact Cooper would take over the starting job at first base if acquired, demoting Yuli Gurriel to a bench role, but it might be worth the change: Cooper’s OPS is over 100 points greater than Gurriel’s as of now.
Cooper turns 32 following the end of the season, and he’s not the only first baseman in the NL East that the Astros are likely to pursue (Josh Bell), but he doesn’t hit free agency until the end of the 2023 season, meaning that if he’s the one the Astros trade for to address that need, he would be a good segue between Gurriel and whoever ends up being the long-term solution at first base. Of all the players on teams that could become surefire sellers at the trade deadline, Cooper is among the highest-profile names that the Astros could trade for.