As the trade deadline approaches, the yearly fire sale for bottom feeder teams is about to begin. Rumors of players moving from deadweight teams to contenders have already begun to swirl, and unfortunately for the Astros, they’re one of the sellers this year.
Sporting MLB’s worst record (31-64), the Astros have nothing more than pride to play for the rest of the season, and they will most definitely be welcoming calls from other teams in order to dump salaries so they can start (or continue?) the rebuilding process. There is no question the Astros will be sellers at the deadline this year. The real question is: Does Houston have anything worth buying?
Let’s take a quick look at the commodities that Houston can offer:
- Hunter Pence: The lone all-star for the Astros this year is far and away the hottest trade piece on the market. However, at only 28, Pence is still a young player and is the only real everyday player the Astros have to build around. Plus, for his production, Pence is a bargain, monetarily speaking. Making under $7 million this year, with one more year on his contract, makes Pence a prized possession for teams looking for an extra bat not only this year, but for next year as well. Potential deal breaker: The Astros will likely ask a team to break the bank for Pence. Pence may be worth it for this year, but is he really good enough to mortgage the future for a good not great right fielder? The Pirates have reportedly shown a lot of interest in Pence.
- Wandy Rodriguez: Rodriguez has been the Astros most consistent pitcher since Roy Oswalt left. He has historically bad starts, then ramps it up through the rest of the year and flies under the radar as one of the best lefties in the game, statistically speaking. It has been reported the Astros have been talking to the Rockies about trading for Rodriguez, but the Astros, again, are asking for a lot in return for a player who is good, but nowhere close to great.
- Brett Myers: The “ace” of the Astros has had a rough year. But his 3-10 record is not quite as bad as it seems. Early in the year, the Astros bullpen blew game after game for Myers, who easily pitched well enough in the early part of the season to post a winning record. He is a strikeout pitcher who can dominate games at times. The Rangers have shown some interest, as have some AL Central teams, and Myers could probably be had for a relatively cheap price.
- Michael Bourn: On a team where it looks like nobody is safe, Bourn might have the least to worry about regarding a trade. Bourn was brought over from Philadelphia because he had a history with GM Ed Wade, and has blossomed in his time with the Astros. He’s a hometown guy, the league leader in steals, and a two-time gold glover in centerfield. It would take a monumental offer for the Astros to give him up. However, if they receive a crop of youngsters in return, they should pull the trigger. For a team in a “rebuilding” stage, they certainly don’t have many minor league pieces they can bring up to fill the cracks in the foundation.
- Jordan Lyles: Lyles is on here simply because after scanning the Astros roster 10 times, no other player stood out as someone that a contender would legitimately want. Lyles won’t be traded, but he’s the only other piece that would draw interest, and he’s far too raw to help anyone win a title this year.
- Everyone else: With that said, everyone is available. But let’s do a quick run down … Carlos Lee is not tradable with his $19 million contract. Chris Johnson, Brett Wallace and J.A. Happ are inconsistent at best. The bullpen, well … have you watched the Astros this year? Nobody from the bullpen is getting traded. The other options I could see would be utility players like Jeff Keppinger or Matt Downs traded to be pinch-hitters or part-time DHs for contenders, much like former Astro Geoff Blum was in 2005 for the Chicago White Sox.