The Crazy Trade The Astros Could Consider Making With the Mets After Their Injuries
The Astros and Mets make intriguing trade partners
The New York Mets went all-in this offseason, with Steve Cohen throwing money at any big-league free agent with a pulse. Their title hopes took a big hit this week, after the Mets lost their closer Edwin Diaz for the rest of the season in a fluke injury celebrating in the WBC. Just yesterday, Brandon Nimmo went down on a slide into second base and appeared to suffer a severe knee injury.
New York committed $262 million to those two players this offseason. They aren't winning a World Series without both of those players. They need a closer, and if Nimmo is down for an extended period of time, they need a center fielder. Enter the Astros.
Houston's bullpen is loaded, and with arms like Ronel Blanco and Matt Gage proving their worth this Spring, they have even more assets than they possesed last year. Ryne Stanek becomes expendable in this case.
Stanek just set a franchise record for ERA last season, finishing with a 1.15 ERA. That said, he finished in the first percentile in walk rate and his 77th percentile xERA, while still solid, is more in line with the pitcher he actually is. It's likely he regressess this season, and Dusty Baker already showed last postseason he didn't trust Stanek, repeatedly passing him over for Montero, Neris and Abreu.
The Astros only have Stanek for one more year. It may be best to move him before he walks in free agency. If Nimmo is down too, they can package multiple pieces with Stanek for the move to be appealing.
Mauricio Dubon and Pedro Leon could be packaged along with Stanek. With the return of a healthy Jake Meyers and the emergence of David Hensley at the utility spot, Dubon is no longer needed. Justin Dirden is going to hit Dubon right off the roster. He plays a solid center field and can play multiple positions.
As for Leon, he has some very loud tools, but hasn't put them all together just yet. MLB.com ranks Leon as the Astros fourth-best prospect, but his ceiling all depends on his ability to hit.
They gave Leon an 80-grade arm, 70-grade run, 55-grade power and 50-grade field, but only a 40-hit grade. Leon walks a lot, but also has some prodigious swing-and-miss in his game. He is blocked in the Astros system, but could combine with Dubon to fill the Mets need for a center fielder.
So if the Astros offer two big leaguers and one of their top prospects, what do they ask for in return?
Alex Ramírez is the Mets fourth-rated prospect according to MLB.com and fifth according to Baseball America. The Mets signed him for $2.05 million in 2019. He is a consensus Top-100 prospect.
He missed all of 2020 like all prospects, but has shown big potential in his two minor league seasons.
So the proposition is trading Stanek, Dubon and another prospect for…a prospect?
Yes. I’m not adamant the Astros should do the deal, but it is one well worth considering.
As mentioned earlier, they won the World Series last year with Dusty basically refusing to deploy Stanek in a leverage role. And they simply cannot justify keeping Dubon on a roster of a team trying to win a title. Leon has promise, but also is beginning to be passed up by other prospects like Yainer Diaz and Drew Gilbert. The Astros should part with him while he has value.
Additionally, much has been made of the Astros and potential extensions this offseason. As time passes, it becomes less and less likely that the Astros retain Kyle Tucker. And with Yordan Alvarez displaying a propensity for injuries, Houston simply can't have too many.
Landing a talent like Ramírez keeps the Astros title window open, even if a player like Tucker is lost somewhere along the line.
From 2021 to 2022, Ramírez cut 10% off of his strikeout rate, and he hit 30 doubles in 2022, while moving up a level. Only four teenagers had more. Just 20, the sky is the limit for the outfielder. Baseball America gives Ramírez a 60-grade arm, 55-grade power and fielding, and 50-grade speed and hitting.
As he moves up from the spacious low-A ball fields, expect more of Ramírez' doubles to turn into home runs.
With prospects, there is always risk, but expect the 96th ranked prospect in the game to soar up boards by this time next year.
He has a 2024 ETA, and it is easy to forsee him contributing them, but also in a future outfield including some combination of Drew Gilbert and Jacob Melton. Houston could even justify asking for Jesus Baez too if they included Dubon and Leon.
When Dana Brown arrived, he said he wanted to get "greedy with winning." Landing a prospect like
Ramírez allows for such a thing to happen. It isn't a no-doubt trade, and could backfire if one of their leverage arms were to get hurt, but it is one Houston should at least consider.