The Astros need to address their bullpen at the trade deadline.
For the most part, this Astros bullpen has been money. Each of Ryan Pressly, Bryan Abreu, Hector Neris and Phil Maton have been great, with the latter three all posting ERA's starting with 1 so far. Pressly has been a steady presence at the back end as well, though, notching 11 saves with 27 strikeouts in 24 innings already.
But then there are the Rafael Monteros, Ryne Staneks and Seth Martinezs of the world. Each of this trio has been subpar, with Montero easily being the least productive reliever, posting a 6.20 ERA in 24.2 innings of work. Surely there is some work to be done here, so why not go out and try and shore up a relief pitching corps that's oh so close to being dominant?
Looking around the league, there is perhaps no better fit for the Astros than the Kansas City Royals, who are one of the worst teams in the game this season. At 18-44, the Royals are nowhere close to contention and are reportedly dangling some of their tradeable assets already in potential deals. This includes both Scott Barlow and Aroldis Chapman, who are the two most notable relievers on their current active roster.
Barlow, a right-hander, is the younger of the two (30) and is not set to become a free agent until after next season, which only furthers his value. He has been a reliable presence in the Royals' pen since he broke into the league back in 2018, functioning as both an oft-used middle reliever and a closer. To kick off the current season, he has a 3.52 ERA, 2.98 FIP and 126 ERA+ through 22 appearances and 23 innings pitched. His experience in high-leverage situations should definitely interest the Astros.
Chapman complicates things a bit, but only because of his checkered past both on the field and off of it. The Royals are reportedly wanting to pair the two of these hurlers in one deal as a form of both shedding salary and improving the return in a possible deal.
Chapman, 35, once seemed to be on his way to a Hall of Fame-caliber career, but he's fallen off a bit recently and that seems to be a thing of the past now. A free agent at season's end, the left-hander has made 23 appearances for the Royals this year and has a sparkling 2.95 ERA, 1.97 FIP and 151 ERA+. He seems to have regained some of the mojo he's lost in recent years, so trading him now is certainly the smartest move for the Royals.
Adding these two hurlers would not necessarily gut the Astros' farm system and it would absolutely strengthen their bullpen. This feels like the way to go if the club determines this is a spot they could upgrade their roster.