How the top trade targets would look with the Astros

The MLB trade deadline is nigh, and although the Astros hold the second-largest division lead in baseball and are on pace for 104 wins, they could acquire a player to help be the first repeat MLB champion since the 2000 New York Yankees.

Last year around this time, the Astros added relief pitchers Francisco Liriano (wasn’t a travesty, but wasn’t very good either) and Tyler Clippard (a complete disaster).

The clear opening on the team could be in the bullpen, to add an experienced reliever to take the place of recently-demoted Ken Giles. But even that isn’t a clear-cut need since the Astros boast the 2nd-best bullpen in the major leagues by most measures, and the  best by others. The team has also called up 22 year old pitcher Cionel Perez, who throws nearly 100 mph from the left side, and has a tidy stable of AA and AAA pitchers with pedigree who could also fit the bill.

But standing pat isn’t fun. Neither is trading for a middle reliever. So in this article, we’re throwing reality to the wind and asking the question, “How would the best available trade targets fit on the 2018 Astros?”

Manny Machado

If the Astros acquire 26-year-old Machado (they won’t), an already top-notch offense would become historical. And hysterical.  Machado is currently hitting .315/.387/.575, or 56% more valuable than an average major league bat.

Machado would signal the end of George Springer batting leadoff. In this situation, Jose Altuve would return to the leadoff spot, Alex Bregman will hit 2nd, followed by Machado, Carlos Correa, and then Springer.

Presumably, this means a rotating DH/infield, which isn’t a bad thing, but it also means drastically reduced playing time for Evan Gattis, who would need to return to the Catcher position. While that is still an overall improvement in the lineup, the defensive catcher position takes a hit.

Overall, acquiring Machado would be less of an upgrade for the Astros than maybe any other team in baseball, but it still would be killer.

But it won’t happen. Even a half season of Machado would require saying bye-bye to Kyle Tucker or Forrest Whitley. And more.

Jose Abreu, Brian Dozier

Without rehashing, acquisition of either of these two fellows would have less of a positive impact on the offense than Machado, but would be (maybe) substantially cheaper.

However, the roster logjam ensuing would still be an issue, and when do the Astros see diminishing returns of a better offense but weaker defense?

Besides, it’s not clear that either of these guys are upgrades over Gattis, anyway. Both are struggling through down years, so the Astros would need to part with good prospects and hope that they can “fix” these struggling bats.

Lance Lynn, Bartolo Colon, Nathan Eovaldi, Derek Holland

Unless the Astros convert one of these guys to reliever, an experiment that did not work well with Liriano, there is no chance of them trading for a starting pitcher.

If the Astros traded for one of these guys, their sixth-best starting pitcher would be…Collin McHugh.  Their seventh-best would be…Brad Peacock.  And that doesn’t even consider Whitley, a national Top 10 prospect mowing his way through the Texas League. Or Francis Martes, who might come back healthy. Or Rogelio Armenteros or Cy Sneed or Josh James, who are all making the Pacific Coast league look silly.

How would a traded-for starting pitcher fit with the 2018 Astros? Short answer: they wouldn’t. Non-cop-out answer: bullpen.

Of them all, Holland makes the most sense in the pen because he’s left-handed. It could happen.

Carlos Gonzalez

After a very slow start, CarGo has caught some fire, has hit .293/.353/.495 since May 1st. He is no longer a star in the league, but he could fit with the Astros if Tucker proves not ready for The Show.

Sergio Romo, Brad Ziegler

Feel the excitement! They’d be bullpen arms. Acquisition of a middle-relief guy seems to be the most likely option at this point, although the Astros could surprise.

Zack Wheeler

No SP is a good fit for the Astros. The Mets could trade a starter, and Wheeler is the most likely. Don’t believe the internet – they aren’t trading Noah Syndergaard or Jacob DeGrom.

Blake Treinen, Kyle Barraclough, Brad Hand, Craig Stammen, Raisel Iglesias

I could see the Astros acquiring a non-rental reliever like this. They tend to like team control. Knowing the Astros though, it will probably be an off-the-radar guy who isn’t “name brand”.  They’ll get a better deal, but similar production.

One wonders if the Astros could pry away a pitcher like Joe Jimenez from the Tigers, who has five seasons of team control left, by offering a package of major-league ready players who have no home with the Houston roster, similarly to how Gerrit Cole was acquired. Mychael Givens is another name that has bee tossed around. How about lefty Jose Alvaredo, of the Rays? Jace Fry of the White Sox? Taylor Rogers, another underappreciated lefty on a bad team?

In fact, that will be my pick. I think the Astros should target Rogers; a contract-controlled lefty reliever with a proven track record, good command, a mid-90’s fastball, and a decent ability to strike batters out.