August 2nd will be here before you know it, and some general managers around the league are singing a different tune than they were a few weeks ago, as plenty of players who were once seen as non-candidates to be traded are now available. The Houston Astros can improve at several positions which I have written about previously, with the most important being first base. Yuli Gurriel is not what he used to be and while I love “La Piña”, the time has come for him to be a bat off the bench rather than an everyday starter. In case that happens along with some other trades, let’s look at the ideal Astros trade deadline deals and the perfect, dream-team lineup which they would create as a result. Spoiler alert: Juan Soto is not included.
The Astros’ top trade deadline priority is first base, and Josh Bell is the ideal candidate. He could have more of an impact on the lineup than anybody else they are considering trading for at the deadline. The latest news coming out from the Washington Nationals is that they want to trade Bell sooner rather than later so they can focus on Juan Soto trade offers. Josh Bell could be an Astro before the end of the work week if Click bids enough to acquire him. Since so many teams are vying for his services, it would most likely be a 3-4 player deal rather than the 5-6 player package it would probably take for Juan Soto, which the Astros can’t afford.
Left field remains a question for the Astros as it’s possible that Michael Brantley has played his last game in Houston, with his previously repaired shoulder getting injured again this season. Brantley had similar issues in Cleveland and if he returns, he’ll likely only be used as a DH, creating a question as to who will play left field. There are numerous options, but Orioles 27-year-old Austin Hays might be the best one. Hays is under team control until 2026 so he won’t come cheap, and the Orioles see themselves as contenders within the next few years. Those reasons might make a Hays trade unlikely, but he would still be a great fit. The Astros could trade Chas McCormick in a package for Hays, which would give the Orioles a similar player stylistically.
A Willson Contreras trade deadline deal would add another dimension to the Astros roster and would create the toughest lineup in baseball. To find production at catcher is very difficult in 2022, and reports are that the Astros have been very aggressive and inquired about him multiple times. The Astros would have to give up prospects and likely a young pitcher for Contreras, and signing him to a longer deal would make the trade more worthwhile.
If those trades (or different ones for similar players) take place, the Astros lineup will be downright scary. The trade deadline deals above could create the following lineup:
That is a truly dominant lineup that opposing pitchers would fear. Pitchers not being able to take a mental break for a single batter in their lineup would cement the Astros as World Series favorites, and fans would have high hopes for the postseason. Let’s see if one or more of these deals happen and change the Astros lineup for the best.