With the trade deadline days away, it isn’t that hard to figure out what the Houston Astros are thinking. They’re thinking pitching. Who they put on the mound in the post season may just offer them the edge they need to make the World Series.
But will they act? And how? Plus, what about the chances of not being able to land the pitching deal they like?
There are a lot of considerations and options. But let’s look at the possibilities for position players.
We do this because the Astros have had some injuries crop up this year. Carlos Correa is just getting back after leaving the lineup in late May. Jose Altuve was also out for part of the first half, Aledmys Diaz is recovering, and Alex Bregman is still being evaluated for a serious head injury.
There have been others, but you get the drift here. The Astros might fear being short key players when September arrives. One or two more competent bats might be in order.
Astros In the Outfield
Most of the good hitters that might be available are in outfield positions, so if Houston were to seek out hitters, that’s where they would be.
Alex Gordon of Kansas City is one of those. He’s hitting .283, has 60 RBIs, and he doesn’t strike out much. The mutual option on his $23 million contract with the Royals comes up in 2020.
Nicholas Castellanos of the Tigers bats about the same (.285) and leads the American League in doubles with 36. Detroit has tried to trade him before, too.
There are also a couple of hard-hitting outfielders in the San Diego Padres order worth looking at. Both Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe bat in the .240s, but each is on pace for a 50-home run season. Renfroe is considered a better outfielder, but either could stand in as DH.
Pitchers Still There
But pitching is still the hope, and we listed a few candidates about three weeks ago, including prime choices Will Smith of the Giants and Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays.
Add to that list Ken Giles, also from Toronto, and Alex Colome of the Chisox. Both are relievers with solid ERAs and strikeout-walk ratios. Colome has 21 saves.
Toss Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer into the mix of pitchers who could be available. He’s 9-7 with a 3.49 ERA and 179 strikeouts.
Who Would Astros Deal?
Houston could draw from a number of options in their highly respected farm system to offer teams who are looking to build for the future. Forrest Whitley, Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez have all been in and out of the lower levels.
Max Stassi, a perfectly competent catcher who hasn’t seen much playing time as backup to Robinson Chirinos, has also been mentioned. But I don’t like giving up a good defensive catcher, even if the Astros turn to Martin Maldonado again.
This is obviously a solid team as is. But if they were to land Will Smith, fans should be dancing in the streets on the way to the Houston Astros ticket box.