Framber Valdez looked like he was en route to becoming an all-time Astros great in 2022. Valdez finished top-five in AL Cy Young voting after setting a record for most consecutive quality starts and finished with a 2.82 ERA.
The postseason was even more kind, as Valdez finished 3-0 in four stars, including the World Series clincher in Game 6.
Big things were expected of Valdez in 2023. While he delivered in the first half, his second half was a nightmare, and just when you thought it couldn't get worse, he imploded in October, finishing with a playoff ERA north of 9.00.
With bans on the shift and new pitch clock rules, can the enigmatic Valdez ever regain what made him so special? Or would the Astros be wise to try to flip him now while his stock is high?
Valdez remains one of the most durable arms in the game, and he comes with two years of team control. If Houston were to move Valdez, they'd likely be able to address multiple areas of need.
It would be a stunning maneuver, but one Dana Brown should absolutely consider.
5 potential blockbuster trades involving Framber Valdez
We just examined what a blockbuster deal for Alex Bregman could look like. Now let's look at five returns Houston could get for their mercurial lefty.
#1 Framber Valdez for Coby Mayo and Heston Kjerstad
Trading Valdez to the Orioles could easily backfire, as the Astros could be facing a resurgent Framber for years to come in the postseason. But this is a tantalizing deal. Coby Mayo and Heston Kjerstad would give the Astros two massive bats they are sorely lacking. Kjerstad could platton as a DH with Yordan for the next couple of years, but likely would take over for Kyle Tucker in right when King Tuck walks in free agency.
Kjerstad is phenomenal, but he's likely blocked in Baltimore with so much talent already on the team. The #2 overall pick in 2020 hit .303 with 29 doubles and 21 bombs in the minors last year before making a brief big league debut in September.
And just as Kjerstad is blocked, so is Coby Mayo, who would truly be the prize of the deal. With Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg already having made their debuts, and the consensus top prospect in baseball not far behind in Jackson Holliday, where does Mayo play?
Baltimore may have to trade him, and Houston would be wise to pounce if so. Mayo hit 29 bombs with a .974 OPS in 140 minor league games last season. Mayo would be Bregman's heir apparent at third base, but could also split time at first base this season if José Abreu doesn't bounce back.
The Astros are getting Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. back in 2024. They have the depth in the rotation to make such a move, and would even be able to sign an insurance arm with the arbitration money they would be coming off of by moving Valdez.
Mayo and Kjerstad worst case would solidify their bench this season, but could very well force their way into every day playing time. They'd be staples of the next era of Astros baseball, and would prolong the window of title contention.