MLB insider's AL rivals predictions suggest golden opportunity for Astros at deadline

Now that Houston is playing like we all thought they would, they could get gifted a prime opportunity by some of their rivals at the trade deadline.
Colorado Rockies v Houston Astros
Colorado Rockies v Houston Astros / Logan Riely/GettyImages

It took longer than anyone expected, but the Houston Astros are officially in the hunt for a playoff spot in 2024 after securing their sixth straight win behind an incredible start by Hunter Brown on Tuesday (they've since stretched the streak to seven). Left for dead by many observers just a month ago, the Astros have finally surged in June after finally shaking up their roster to overcome their dreadful start.

Just like that, general manager Dana Brown's resolve that Houston wouldn't sell at the deadline actually makes some sense. While the Astros aren't in a playoff spot in the standings just yet, they are now within striking distance and are playing like one of the best teams in baseball again. Payroll space and a lack of prospect reserves are concerns ahead of the deadline in terms of buying, but thoughts of a massive sell-off have fallen by the wayside.

In an ideal world, the Astros would be able to go out and add a quality starting pitcher at the trade deadline, with Justin Verlander's neck issue not resolving itself quickly and season-ending injuries to both Jose Urquidy and Cristian Javier. ESPN insider Jeff Passan doesn't have the Houston doing that just yet, but he did provide some trade deadline predictions that marked good news for the Astros. As it turns out, some of their biggest rivals may not be as aggressive as you would think.

Jeff Passan's predictions for AL rivals at trade deadline could give the Astros an opening

Now that the Astros are playing well again, it is fair to start considering themselves in competition with the rest of the AL's elite teams -- or, at the very least, firmly in the Wild Card conversation. In Passan's piece, he has two of those Wild Card rivals, the Yankees and Red Sox, not exactly pushing their chips in, with Tanner Scott being a target for New York, while Boston was paired with Savant anti-darling Luis Rengifo.

Scott and Rengifo are fine players, but they aren't likely to be game-changers for either team, and both squads have bigger flaws to deal with. The Yankees' offense is inconsistent, especially if Aaron Judge has an off night, and the rotation has shown cracks. The Red Sox don't really seem to have a plan beyond "hope this roster is good enough for a Wild Card spot and the Vibes Train keeps rolling". That is two AL teams who currently occupy playoff spots who might fall off in the second half if they don't turn some things around.

The bad news is that there are a couple AL teams that are near locks to be aggressive at the trade deadline. Passan has the Orioles as the best landing spot for Garrett Crochet, which could make them very tough to beat. Meanwhile, the Mariners are still in first place in the AL West, and now rumors are swirling that the trade happy Jerry Dipoto could be a major force at the deadline. Of course, the Rangers are the biggest wild card here, as they are just good enough to be potential buyers, and they could go on a major run any time now to defend their title.

Assuming some of Houston's chief competition at the deadline plays things safe, that could be the opening the Astros need. They are still going to have to play their brains out, and adding some pitching help from SOMEWHERE would be a huge help, but the path back to the postseason seems like it is becoming a lot more clear.

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