2 Teams Are Holding Fire Sales. Who Should the Astros Take?
Marlins: Nick Fortes, Anthony Bass, Garrett Cooper
The Miami Marlins are stacked with young talent. Sandy Alcantara, their lone untouchable as mentioned, has been arguably the best pitcher in baseball this season. Pablo Lopez and Braxton Garrett continue to establish themselves as high-quality arms. However, the Astros currently have 6 MLB-level starters and are about to get a 7th when Lance McCullers completes his rehab starts, so the rotation is not an area of need. In terms of position players, Jazz Chisholm is becoming one of the premier faces of baseball, but with Altuve at second base, the Astros don’t need him either, and he’ll be out for most of August at the least with a back problem.
So, as with Detroit, the Astros would be best served to look at their under-the-radar trade candidates because they’re the ones at positions the Astros need to address. The first name to consider is backup catcher Nick Fortes. Not known very well whatsoever outside of Miami, he’s still a rookie, but is quietly hitting better than most young catchers in the game.
At age 25, he boasts a 118 OPS+ so far this year, meaning the Astros would be getting both offense at the catcher position and continued leadership from Martin Maldonado, because Fortes has yet to prove himself as a starter. He’s also proficient on the defensive side of the ball: his 1.4 rWAR is top-5 among Marlins position players this season, despite the fact that he has only played 30 games.
Another name that’s not as well-known by casual fans is Anthony Bass. I believe he should be the top right-handed reliever on the Astros’ list because at age 34, he has been one of the most lights-out bullpen arms in the game. Through 41.2 innings, Bass has allowed just 7 earned runs, coming out to an ERA of 1.51. He has a FIP of 1.95 and a WHIP of 0.96 to go along with that, and he would fit in quite well with the Astros’ bullpen on account of the fact that he’s only surrendered a single home run. His 31.5% hard hit rate is among the lowest in baseball, and he’s having a career year at 34. This is a guy who should absolutely be throwing in high-leverage innings for a contender in October.
The only reason Garrett Cooper wasn’t listed first is because I see him as a fallback option if the Astros can’t trade for Josh Bell or Trey Mancini. Cooper is no slouch himself, though; his 119 OPS+ and 21 doubles are just two of the reasons why he would be an upgrade at first base. I wrote more about Cooper in a piece from this past weekend; he is one of the many players who can add a larger spark and more length to the Astros’ offense.
Between Fortes, Bass, and Cooper, there are plenty of under-the-radar names on the Marlins that actually cater more to Houston’s needs than their stars do. Between these two reports about Detroit and Miami, rest assured that GM James Click and the rest of the front office are going to be even busier at the deadline than they were already planning to be.