What will Dana do?
The Houston Astros have been to 6 straight ALCS and 2 straight World Series, winning it all in 2022. Still, they have had 2 different GMs in that span, with a 3rd being introduced this season. With a new rookie GM comes the unknown.
We can try to predict Dana Brown’s strategy based on things he’s said, team needs, and past tendencies in other front office positions. No matter his strategy, the Astros potential moves will be determined by the market and the values set on players by other GMs.
Let’s lay out some potential Astros trade deadline targets, and then go over what it might take to get them.
These are the frontline guys. The type of man you want on the bump for a World Series game.
#1. Blake Snell (SD, 30, 2.61 ERA, 17.4K-BB%)
The Player: Blake Snell’s tenure as a Padre started out rough. He improved last season, and now is having the 2nd best season of his career behind his 2018 Cy Young season.
The Fit: The fit is obvious. Slotting this ace-quality arm in a rotation with Valdez, Javier, and Brown will secure their rotation as one of the scariest to go up against in October.
The Trade: IF the Padres decide to move him, they’ll be receiving offers from almost every contender. He is a former CY young-winning rental with his contract up at the end of this season. Not only that, but Snell is having one of the best stretches of his career. Anticipating the market driving up the price, it’d be one of those trades that hurts to make. Eligible for a qualifying offer, any trade package for Snell needs to beat out a comp pick at minimum, as well as every other suitor.
SD Receives: Jacob Melton (22, CF, A+, HOU #2) + Zach Dezenzo (23, OF/3B, AA, HOU #5) + Spencer Arrighetti (23, RHP, AAA, HOU #7)
HOU Receives: Blake Snell through 2023 season
#2. Marcus Stroman (CHC, 32, 122.1 IP, 3.09 ERA)
The Player: Since debuting in 2014 at 23 years old, Stroman has been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball. He’s finished 8 seasons with more than 20 starts, and 7 of those 8 with an ERA under 4. At age 32, his 2023 campaign has been one of his best.
The Fit: Stroman is a ground ball and soft contact specialist, helped immensely by having Dansby Swanson, Nico Hoerner, and Cody Bellinger up the middle defensively in Chicago. Houston has solid defensive numbers this year too, so Stroman can keep rolling in the Juicebox with his pitch-to-contact style, only a minimal defensive downgrade.
The Trade: Chicago has had plenty of success with their pitching acquisitions as of late, with some demonstrated interest in finesse strikeout arms like recent acquisition Hayden Wesneski for Scott Efross last season. Arrighetti fits the bill, but Stroman would fetch a T100 type. A package it must be. The Cubs, however, have Happ, Suzuki, and Morel locked up long-term in their outfield and top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong on the way. Houston’s surplus of outfield talent might not move the needle here.
CHC Receives: Spencer Arrighetti (23, RHP, AAA, HOU #7) + Zach Dezenzo (23, OF/3B, AA, HOU #5) + Korey Lee (24, C, AAA, HOU #29)
HOU Receives: Marcus Stroman through 2023 season
#3. Eduardo Rodriguez (DET, 30, 2.95 ERA, 19.9 K-BB%)
The Player: Eduardo’s having the best season of his career at 30 Years Old. A similar year to Blake Snell on run prevention, and at the same age. He’s only made 4 starts since missing all of June with a finger injury.
The Fit: Another obvious fit, and like Blake Snell, he has playoff experience. E-Rod is a flyball oriented pitcher without devastating strikeout numbers, which might not play perfectly in Minute Maid, but he’s also a command artist averaging 6 innings per start, something Houston’s club desperately needs behind Framber.
The Trade: Detroit might not be set on moving E-Rod. He’s under contract until 2026 with nearly $50M remaining, BUT he does have an opt-out after this season. With how he’s pitched this year, he should decide to opt out for an even better contract than he currently has, making him essentially a rental as well. As far as Detroit’s needs go? Bats, bats, and more bats, as polished as you can make ’em.
DET Receives: Joey Loperfido (24, 2B/1B/CF, AA, HOU #6) + Colin Barber (23, OF, AA, HOU #15)
HOU Receives: Eduardo Rodriguez through 2023 season (potentially more)
These are all top 3 rotation arms that immediately slot in for a potentially Game 2-3 playoff series start.
#1. Jordan Montgomery (STL, 30, 3.37 ERA, 15.3 K-BB%)
The Player: At age 30, Jordan seems to be in the middle of his prime. Since his trade to the Cardinals last year, he’s had a 3.28 ERA in 178.2 IP.
The Fit: Adding another crafty lefty to join Framber Valdez in a pitching staff full of RHP, would be a great weapon to add to Dusty Baker’s arsenal for a playoff series.
The Trade: The Cardinals have made it clear: This deadline, they are addressing their 2024 starting rotation by adding long-term pieces who have some capability to miss bats. Turning rental Montgomery into a controllable starter would be a terrific way to do so. If there was ever a team to value Arrighetti highly, it’d be this year’s Cardinals.
STL Receives: Spencer Arrighetti (23, RHP, AAA, HOU #7) + Miguel Ullola (21, RHP, A+, HOU #12)
HOU Receives: Jordan Montgomery through 2023 season
#2. Dylan Cease (CHW, 27, 4.04 ERA, 18.5 K-BB%)
The Player: Functionally, not much has changed for Dylan Cease since his terrific 2022 campaign. He’s had much worse luck with RISP and he’s been a couple percentage points points more prone to the home run ball. The velocity is also down a tick, likely due to the pitch clock, but Cease’s walk and strikeout rates are in line with his dominant 2022.
The Fit: Cease is the Astros trade deadline archetype that we know and love. He’s a stuff monster. Some improvements on pitch sequencing might unlock him and bring his run prevention back to form. It’s exciting, but it would be costly.
The Trade: The White Sox ace is half a year removed from a 2nd place AL CY Young finish and would be under team control for longer than Gerrit Cole’s tenure with Houston. A 4 ERA doesn’t matter much, this is a trade that would take the farm.
CHW Receives: Drew Gilbert (23, OF, AA, HOU #1), Ryan Clifford (20, 1B/OF, A+, HOU #3), Zach Dezenzo (23, OF/3B, AA, HOU #5) + Spencer Arrighetti (23, RHP, AAA, HOU #7).
HOU Receives: Dylan Cease through 2025 season
#3. Lucas Giolito (CHW, 28, 3.79 ERA, 17.6 K-BB%)
The Player: Lucas has been a workhorse his entire career, aside from 2020, he’s started at least 29 games every year since 2018.
The Fit: If the Astros wanted a cheaper alternative to Cease, Giolito would be a solid mid-rotation rental option. Rumors are swirling about his potential reunion with his hometown Dodgers, but Giolito makes a lot of sense as a reliable playoff starter who can eat innings in the back half.
The Trade: The White Sox have not been the most impressive player development group lately, so they might do well to ask for a close-to-finished products at spots of need – second base, currently manned by *checks notes* Zach Remilliard, and catcher with Yasmani Grandal expiring.
CHW Receives: Joey Loperfido (24, 2B/1B/CF, AAA, HOU #9) + Korey Lee (24, C, AAA, HOU #29)
HOU Receives: Lucas Giolito through 2023 season
#4. Kyle Hendricks (CHC, 34, 3.45 ERA, 130 ERA+)
The Player: Hendricks might be one of the more underrated pitchers of the past decade. Since 2014 he’s thrown over 1,300 innings with a 3.45 ERA. He also started Game 7 of the 2016 World Series and has a 3.12 career postseason ERA.
The Fit: An effective veteran like Hendricks could really help eat innings and lend experience to this young staff.
The Trade: The Cubs potentially looking at a mini-rebuild, are reported to be looking for young pitching and catching. Barring a bidding war, the Astros could probably get him for a package of Korey Lee and a pitching prospect.
CHC Receives: Michael Knorr (22, RHP, A+, HOU #16) + Korey Lee (24, C, AAA, HOU #29)
HOU Receives: Kyle Hendricks through 2024 season
#5. Seth Lugo (SD, 33, 3.72 ERA, 3.67 FIP)
The Player: Seth Lugo has had a versatile and consistent career. With 300 IP as a reliever, and 269.2 as a starter, with a career ERA of 3.51.
The Fit: Lugo might be the best depth fit out of these starters with his ability to also pitch effectively out of the bullpen. A career 2.91 ERA as a reliever.
The Trade: Lugo has a player option for 2024 that you can probably expect him to take. If the Padres are sellers, they’ll be taking calls on a lot their players, and might not be willing to move any player for cheap.
SD Receives: Jacob Melton (22, CF, A+, HOU #2) + Miguel Ullola (21, RHP, A+, HOU #12) + Korey Lee (24, C, AAA, HOU #29)
HOU Receives: Seth Lugo through 2023 season (2024 Player option)
#5. Michael Lorenzen (DET, 31, 3.49 ERA, 124 ERA+)
The Player: Michael Lorenzen is another versatile pitcher, having pitched out of the bullpen as well as a starter. Although he’s been exclusively a starter since he left Cincinnati.
The Fit: Like Lugo, his versatility and experience out of the pen could be valuable down the stretch and in the playoffs.
The Trade: Lorenzen has been pegged as an Astros trade deadline target for a few weeks now. While it’s not the sexy move everyone wants to see, it could be a relatively cheap move that immediately gives the staff much needed depth.
DET Receives: Jake Meyers (27, CF, MLB) + Justin Dirden (25, OF, AAA, HOU #9)
HOU Receives: Michael Lorenzen through 2023 season
#6. Shane Bieber (CLE, 28, 3.77 ERA, 117 IP)
The Player: Currently going through the worst season of his career since his 2018 rookie season, he’s still a former Cy Young award winner with a career 3.26 ERA in 820 IP.
The Fit: Whether the Astros can restore Shane to his Cy Young form or not, he’d still be a great addition to the rotation.
The Trade: The question will be whether Cleveland decides to trade him at all. While they are currently 2nd in their division, the AL Central is always one hot streak away from flipping.
CLE Receives: Jacob Melton (22, CF, A+, HOU #2) + Grae Kessinger (25, SS/Util, MLB) + Miguel Ullola (21, RHP, A+, HOU #12) + Colin Barber (22, OF, AA, HOU #17)
HOU Receives: Shane Bieber through 2024 season
The Depth Guys
These are SP Depth moves. Guys that can slot in the #5 rotation spot at minimum, with the potential to be turned into stud with the Astros development.
#1. Paul Blackburn (OAK, 29, 5.06 ERA, 3.91 FIP)
The Player: An All Star last season, Paul Blackburn’s stats don’t jump off the page, he does produce above average soft contact and chase rate.
The Fit: His soft contact and chase rate abilities are something the Astros have been known to value. He could be a project that they see worth taking on.
The Trade: The A’s have been known to trade good players for less.
OAK Receives: Grae Kessinger (25, SS/Util, MLB) + Quincy Hamilton (25, OF, AAA, HOU #20)
HOU Receives: Paul Blackburn through the 2025 season
#2. Michael Kopech (CHW, 27, 4.44 ERA, 99 ERA+)
The Player: Michael Kopech is one of those players you wonder if they’re ever going to fully figure it out. He had a solid past 2 seasons, with a lively fastball, but hasn’t seemed to get everything to click.
The Fit: The past 2 seasons he’s had a 3.52 ERA as both a reliever and a starter. his “stuff” is there, if the Astros decide to try to unlock it.
The Trade: In 2018 the Astros traded for a flamethrowing 27 year old Gerrit Cole from the Pirates with 2 years of control for 4 prospects. Although Kopech is not Gerrit Cole, the comparisons are interesting.
CHW Receives: Zach Dezenzo (23, OF/3B, AA, HOU #5) + Colin Barber (22, OF, AA, HOU #17) + Korey Lee (24, C, AAA, HOU #29)
HOU Receives: Michael Kopech through the 2025 Season
This is Josh Hader.
#1. Josh Hader (SD, 29, 0.95 ERA, 433 ERA+)
The Player: Josh Hader has been one of the best closers in baseball since 2019. He’s only 29 and already has 156 career saves.
The Fit: Adding Josh Hader to the back-end of the Astros bullpen would just be unfair.
The Trade: Might be the most improbable trade, as it would be a HIGH cost for a rental reliever.
SD Receives: Zach Dezenzo (23, OF/3B, AA, HOU #5) + Korey Lee (24, C, AAA, HOU #29) + Grae Kessinger (25, SS/Util, MLB) + Jose Fluery (21, RHP, A, HOU #23)
HOU Receives: Josh Hader through the 2023 season
The Set-up Men
These are near-elite bullpen arms that can shore up the back end high-leverage scenarios.
#1. Justin Lawrence (COL, 28, 2.94 ERA, 172 ERA+)
The Player: After a 5.70 ERA in 42 IP last season, Justin has figured it out this year.
The Fit: Justin has been elite this season. Slotting him into the 8th inning makes Bryan Abreu that much more valuable.
The Trade: COL doesn’t have to move Justin as he’s still under control until 2025. So the cost might become unrealistic, depending on the Rockies mindset.
COL Receives: Justin Dirden (25, OF, AAA, HOU #9) + Michael Knorr (22, RHP, A+, HOU #16) + Jose Fluery (21, RHP, A, HOU #23)
HOU Receives: Justin Lawrence through the 2025 season
#2. David Robertson (NYM, 38, 2.05 ERA, 203 ERA+)
The Player: In the first game David Robertson pitched, Billy Wagner got the save. That’s how long he’s been around. In all that time he’s managed to be more than just effective. He has a career 2.84 ERA in 782.2 IP as a reliever.
The Fit: Because of his age, and the fact that he’s a rental, David would be the perfect candidate for a relatively low-cost high-leverage bullpen arm.
The Trade: The Mets will most likely be making many many trades at this deadline. The hope would be that you can get Robertson for 1-2 players from the Astros OF depth.
NY Receives: Justin Dirden (25, OF, AAA, HOU #9)
HOU Receives: David Robertson through the 2023 season
#3. Kendall Graveman (CHW, 32, 3.56 ERA, 124 ERA+)
The Player: Graveman started his career as a starter. In 2020 he converted to a reliever and has a 2.87 ERA as a reliever since.
The Fit: He’s not as good as he was in years past, but were he added to the Astros bullpen (again), he wouldn’t need to be “the guy”. He would most likely share 7th or 8th inning duties with Abreu, Neris, and Maton, giving them much need rest.
The Trade: It’s been reported that Chicago is looking for a young controllable Catching prospect. The Astros really only have 1 of those that they’re willing to deal.
CHI Receives: Korey Lee (24, C, AAA, HOU #29)
HOU Receives: Kendall Graveman through the 2024 season
#4. Jordan Hicks (STL, 26, 3.67 ERA, 119 ERA+)
The Player: Jordan Hicks burst onto the scene in 2018 with his fireball fastball. He’s always had the “stuff”, he just hasn’t been able to be the shut down guy people expected.
The Fit: His FIP is 3.02. With the Astros coaching and analytics team, he could become a dangerous weapon in the playoffs.
The Trade: He is a rental, but in a sellers market, STL might hold out for a high bid for their biggest bullpen arm.
STL Receives: Colton Gordon (24, LHP, AA, HOU #12) + Jose Fluery (21, RHP, A, HOU #23)
HOU Receives: Jordan Hicks through 2023 season
These guys come in and give your bullpen much needed depth.
#1. Steven Okert (MIA, 32, 3.25 ERA, 134 ERA+)
The Player: Okert had a 5.31 ERA in 50 minor league games in the Giants system in 2019. Then, after signing a deal with Miami in 2021, he’s had a 3.02 ERA in 134 MLB games.
The Fit: He’s a lefty reliever with a 134 ERA+ and a 24.5% K-BB rate. Need I say more?
The Trade: The deciding factor here will be whether the Marlins are willing to deal him at all.
MIA Receives: Andrew Taylor (21, RHP, A+, HOU #10) + Colin Barber (22, OF, AA, HOU #17)
HOU Receives: Steven Okert through 2026 season
#2. Matt Strahm (PHI, 31, 3.65 ERA, 118 ERA+)
The Player: At 31, Strahm is a bit of a journeyman. Spending time with Kansas City, San Diego, and now Philly. He’s bounced back and forth between starter and reliever his whole career, with a 3.04 ERA in 224.1 IP out of the pen.
The Fit: Strahm could kill 3 birds with 1 stone. Giving the Astros an innings eater-type of long man, a bullpen piece that’s allowed only a .640 OPS in high leverage innings, and that elusive shut down lefty reliever they’ve been toying with for years.
The Trade: Like Miami, whether they move Strahm at all could be determined by the next 5-6 games.
PHI Receives: Michael Knorr (22, RHP, A+, HOU #16) + Colin Barber (22, OF, AA, HOU #17)
HOU Receives: Matt Strahm through 2024 season
#3. Julian Merryweather (CHC, 31, 4.01 ERA, 112 ERA+)
The Player: After 3 season with TOR, Julian was picked up on waivers by Chicago. This year has been his best season, though he has a 4 ERA, his back-end number show some promise.
The Fit: Merryweather would mostly just add depth. He’d be in a similar role as Seth Martinez now, as an upgrade over the likes of Joel Kuhnel.
The Trade: It shouldn’t cost much to get him from Chicago. Especially if they’re having a fire sale.
CHC Receives: Kenedy Corona (23, OF, A+, HOU #11)
HOU Receives: Julian Merryweather through 2026 season
#4. Chris Stratton (STL, 32, 4.47 ERA, 3.00 FIP)
The Player: Chris Stratton is one of those guys you’ve never heard of that’s had an 8 year MLB career. Pitching for the Giants, Angels, Pirates, and now Cardinals, he’s managed to stick around with a career ERA of 4.50.
The Fit: This season his FIP is 3.00. Potentially there’s something there that the Astros can tap into while he eats up innings down the stretch.
The Trade: FIP aside, he’s a rental with a 4 ERA. The Cardinals asking price shouldn’t be too high.
STL Receives: Colin Barber (22, OF, AA, HOU #17)
HOU Receives: Chris Stratton through 2023 season
“We Can Fix Him”
These are arms that show potential with their “under the hood” numbers.
#1. Sam Moll (OAK, 31, LHP, 4.46 ERA, 3.28 FIP)
The Player: Sam Moll is an interesting player. Last season he walked more hitters, struck out less, and gave up more HR/9, but managed to have a 2.91 ERA in 53 games compared to this year’s 4.50.
The Fit: He’s a lefty with a 3,000 RPM sweeper and a lot of red on his Savant page. I think if the Astros could get him, he could really become dangerous under their coaching.
The Trade: The A’s would probably accept an MLB ready bat like Kessinger.
OAK Receives: Grae Kessinger (25, SS/Util, MLB)
HOU Receives: Sam Moll through 2024 season
#2. Scott Barlow (KCR, 31, RHP, 5.15 ERA, 14.5 K-BB%)
The Player: After being one of the best relievers in baseball in 2021-22 (2.30 ERA in 140 games), Barlow has lost it this season with a gaudy 5.15 ERA. Command issues have plagued him, although his under the hood numbers show he’s been unlucky at times.
The Fit: Like Moll, his Savant page is full of red and his xERA is significantly better than his ERA. He’s signed through 2024 and could be a sneaky elite add if he finds his form again.
The Trade: The Royals might be looking for a price aligned more with Barlow’s 21-22 seasons, but hopefully they’d except someone from the Astros OF prospect depth.
KCR Receives: Zach Dezenzo (23, OF/3B, AA, HOU #5)
HOU Receives: Scott Barlow through 2024 season
#3. Reynaldo Lopez (CHW, 29, RHP, 4.29 ERA, 16.9 K-BB%)
The Player: Reynaldo has an electric fastball, and has shown at times during his career that he can be lights out.
The Fit: Reynaldo’s fastball is very good, but he might rely on it too much. There could be something there that the Astros can tap into.
The Trade: Since he’s a rental, the White Sox would probably be happy to get any team’s top 20 prospect for him.
CHW Receives: Kenedy Corona (23, OF, A+, HOU #11)
HOU Receives: Reynaldo Lopez through 2023 season
The Premium Sticks
The hitters here take any lineup from good to elite.
#1. Luis Robert Jr (CHW, 25, LF, .884 OPS, 28 HR)
The Player: Luis is only 25 years old and is one of the best hitters in the game.
The Fit: Putting him in a lineup in between Yordan and Tucker would be completely unfair.
The Trade: He’s under control until 2027 and is only 25. This trade is probably the most unlikely trade on this list.
CHW Receives: Jacob Melton (22, CF, A+, HOU #2) + Zach Dezenzo (23, OF/3B, AA, HOU #5) + Jake Meyers (27, OF, MLB) + Colin Barber (22, OF, AA, HOU #17) + Korey Lee (24, C, AAA, HOU #29)
HOU Receives: Luis Robert Jr through 2027 season
#2. Cody Bellinger (CHC, 27, OF, .903 OPS, 141 OPS+)
The Player: Cody has had a rollercoaster of a career, but has seemingly found his way back into being one of the most dangerous hitters in the game.
The Fit: From an off the field perspective, there’s some question as to how it would go over in the locker room, but I think every player in that clubhouse understands that he’d make the team better, and can look past old bitterness.
The Trade: While he is a rental, he’s also one of the only elite lefty hitters available so a bidding war could happen that prices out the Astros.
CHC Receives: Jacob Melton (22, CF, A+, HOU #2) + Zach Dezenzo (23, OF/3B, AA, HOU #5) + Korey Lee (24, C, AAA, HOU #29)
HOU Receives: Cody Bellinger potentially through the 2023 season.
#3. Jorge Soler (MIA, 31, OF, .834 OPS, 24 HR)
The Player: Jorge Soler has been a boom or bust bat, but this year he has his 2nd highest walk-rate of his career (11.4%) to go with his 24 bombs.
The Fit: This wouldn’t be the 1st time a team traded for a player that hurt them in a previous postseason, and it wouldn’t be the last either.
The Trade: If Miami does decide to sell, he’d probably be one of the first to go.
MIA Receives: Jose Urquidy (28, RHP, MLB) + Andrew Taylor (21, RHP, A+, HOU #10) + Colin Barber (22, OF, AA, HOU #17)
HOU Receives: Jorge Soler through the 2023 season with a 2024 player option
The Impact Bats
These guys add to any lineup their slotted into.
#1. Jeimer Candelario (WSN, 29, SH, 1B/3B, .820 OPS, .867 OPS v RHP)
The Player: Jeimer Candelario’s career is the epitome of “the ups and downs of baseball. He made he debut at 22 in 2016, and has since had a few really good years, a few really bad years, and some in between.
The Fit: I think of the bats listed in this article, his switch hitting ability would be the most interesting weapon to give Dusty Baker. Most importantly, he mashes from the left side.
The Trade: He’s a rental, and the Nats will be fielding plenty of calls about him I’m sure, but if you can add him to the Astros lineup for some of your OF depth, you make that move every time.
WSN Receives: Jacob Melton (22, CF, A+, HOU #2) + Colin Barber (22, OF, AA, HOU #17)
HOU Receives: Jeimer Candelario through the 2023 season
#2. Randal Grichuk (COL, 31, OF, .857 OPS, 120 OPS+)
The Player: Did you know Randal Grichuk has a career 181 HR and is coming up on 1,000 career hits? He’s been around since 2014 and is having the 2nd best year of his career in a contract year at age 31.
The Fit: Randal would add experience and a potent bat to the bottom hald of the Astros order.
The Trade: The Astros have stated multiple times that they are looking for a lefty bat, but if the right price is there, it wouldn’t hurt to add this bat to the lineup.
COL Receives: Kenedy Corona (23, OF, A+, HOU #11) + Colin Barber (22, OF, AA, HOU #17)
HOU Receives: Randal Grichuk through the 2023 season
#3. Brent Rooker (OAK, 28, LF, .800 OPS, 127 OPS+)
The Player: Before this season, in a combined 81 games from 2020-22, Brent had a .668 OPS. This season he has an .800 OPS in 83 games.
The Fit: He probably doesn’t fit the Astros usual style, but obviously he’d be an upgrade over other bench options.
The Trade: He is controllable through 2027, making his price a little higher. I think other teams will value him more and offer more for him.
OAK Receives: Zach Dezenzo (23, OF/3B, AA, HOU #5) + Grae Kessinger (25, SS/Util, MLB) + Jake Meyers (27, OF, MLB)
HOU Receives: Brent Rooker through the 2027 season
#4. Tommy Pham (NYM, 35, OF, .827 OPS, 129 OPS+)
The Player: Tommy Pham, the MLB journeyman known to pop off on twitter, is having the 2nd best season of his career at 35 years old.
The Fit: He would be a clear upgrade over the current bench options of Julks and Meyers. Although as stated, the Astros have said specifically they are looking for a left-handed bat.
The Trade: Similar to Grichuk, I don’t think the Astros would press to hard for this trade. One of those “for the right price” moves.
NYM Receives: Kenedy Corona (23, OF, A+, HOU #11) + Colin Barber (22, OF, AA, HOU #17)
HOU Receives: Tommy Pham through the 2023 season
“We need a lefty”
These are lefty bats that can help against RHP.
#1. Ryan McMahon (COL, 28, IF, 15 HR, .853 OPS v RHP)
The Player: Ryan has had a very consistently average career at the plate overall, but this season he’s been mashing RHP with an .853 OPS.
The Fit: Most of his career has been spent at 2B/3B, so he wouldn’t be an every day starter on the Astros, but a left-handed IF utility bat that can start at DH occasionally, would be a very solid add to this lineup. He’s under control until 2027, so he could be seen as a potential stop gap if they’re unable to re-sign Bregman after 2024.
The Trade: He’s in his prime and controllable through 2027, so his price won’t be cheap.
COL Receives: Zach Dezenzo (23, OF/3B, AA, HOU #5) + Brandon Bielak (27, RHP, MLB) + Grae Kessinger (25, SS/Util, MLB) + Justin Dirden (25, OF, AAA, HOU #9)
HOU Receives: Ryan McMahon through the 2027 season
#2. Alex Verdugo (BOS, 27, OF, 2.1 fWAR, .844 OPS v RHP)
The Player: “The guy they traded Mookie Betts for”. Verdugo has had a very solid career consistently performing above average, but that moniker will stick with him as long as he’s in Boston.
The Fit: He has a career .817 OPS against RHP, and plays all 3 OF positions, making him possibly the best bat available for the Astros this trade deadline.
The Trade: Boston is hanging around the rim of the Wild Card hunt, but this could be the peak time for them to get value for Verdugo.
BOS Receives: Jacob Melton (22, CF, A+, HOU #2) + Justin Dirden (25, OF, AAA, HOU #9) + Jake Meyers (27, OF, MLB) + Andrew Taylor (21, RHP, A+, HOU #10)
HOU Receives: Alex Verdugo through the 2024 season
#3. Ryan Noda (OAK, 27, 1B/OF, 128 OPS+, .781 OPS v RHP)
The Player: Ryan is a 27 year old rookie having a hell of a first season. He’s a lefty bat, but in 60 PA against LHP, he has an .853 OPS.
The Fit: While he has hit LHP better in a small sample size, he still has a respectable .781 OPS against RHP. He plays 1B and LF, which could be very valuable to the Stros.
The Trade: Since he is still a rookie, and is under team control for a while, it would be interesting if he was dealt at all, but the A’s have done weirder things.
OAK Receives: Jacob Melton (22, CF, A+, HOU #2) + Zach Dezenzo (23, OF/3B, AA, HOU #5) + Grae Kessinger (25, SS/Util, MLB) + Jake Meyers (27, OF, MLB)
HOU Receives: Ryan Noda through the 2030 season
#4. Seth Brown (OAK, 31, 1B/OF, 10 HR, .780 OPS v RHP)
The Player: Seth Brown debuted in 2019 and is one of the longer tenured A’s at this point which is sad. He’s having a slightly down year, but had a career 113 OPS+ coming into the season.
The Fit: His 2023 .780 OPS v RHP is right on par with his career .789 OPS v RHP. Similar to Noda, he plays 1B and LF which is a great fit for the Astros.
The Trade: While Brown is controllable through 2026, the A’s could see this as a good time to move him for good value since they have Noda.
OAK Receives: Justin Dirden (25, OF, AAA, HOU #9) + Grae Kessinger (25, SS/Util, MLB) + Jake Meyers (27, OF, MLB)
HOU Receives: Seth Brown through the 2026 season
These guys would add depth on the bench
#1. Connor Joe (PIT, 30, LF/1B, .742 OPS, 1.2 WAR)
The Player: Connor Joe is a solid 1B/LF/RF utility bat that hits LHP for a .796 OPS in his career.
The Fit: He doesn’t fit the Astros current “needs” but could be a lateral type of move if they were to trade one of/both Julks or Meyers.
The Trade: If the Pirates want to get any value for him, this one be the deadline to do it.
PIT Receives: Grae Kessinger (25, SS/Util, MLB)
HOU Receives: Connor Joe through the 2024 season
#2. Dylan Carlson (STL, 24, OF, .696 OPS, 10.4 K-BB%)
The Player: Carlson is a switch hitter whose best season was 2021, but on his career has hit LHP for an impressive .858 OPS.
The Fit: He can play all 3 OF positions well, and if used as a bench platoon bat against LHP, he could be dangerous.
The Trade: He is controllable through 2025 and a former top prospect for STL, so the asking price might be more than it’s worth, but it doesn’t hurt to make the phone call.
STL Receives: Zach Dezenzo (23, OF/3B, AA, HOU #5) + Justin Dirden (25, OF, AAA, HOU #9) + Grae Kessinger (25, SS/Util, MLB)
HOU Receives: Dylan Carlson through the 2025 season
Justin Verlander (NYM, 40, 3.24 ERA, 3.39 FIP)
The Player: I don’t think I need to explain who Justin Verlander is to you. At 40, he’s still been elite with a 3.24 ERA in 89 IP.
The Fit: Putting him back in this rotation would be a godsend of experience and depth.
The Trade: IF Cohen is already trying to move on from him, he might be willing to eat some of the contract, or at least meet Crane halfway. I could see a scenario where Crane and Cohen help each other out a bit. The Astros are 16M away from the Lux Tax currently, so it would take some creative maneuvering and help from Cohen to stay under.
NYM Receives: Rafael Montero (32, RHP, MLB, 11.5M) + Colin Barber (22, OF, AA, HOU #17)
HOU Receives: Justin Verlander through the 2025 season. In this scenario Cohen would eat whatever remaining $ of JV’s contract this season that is needed to keep Crane under the Lux Tax as part of the deal.
Shohei Ohtani (LAA, 29, RHP/DH, 1.066 OPS, 36 HR, 3.71 ERA, 120 ERA+)
The Player: Yup
The Fit: Yes
The Trade: Probably not
LAA Receives: Drew Gilbert (23, OF, AA, HOU #1) + Ryan Clifford (20, 1B/OF, A+, HOU #3) + Zach Dezenzo (23, OF/3B, AA, HOU #5) + Spencer Arrighetti (23, RHP, AAA, HOU #7) + Andrew Taylor (21, RHP, A+, HOU #10) + Grae Kessinger (25, SS/Util, MLB) + Orbit + The Train
HOU Receives: Shohei Ohtani through the 2023 season
Which one, if any, of these proposed deals would you pull the trigger on? Keep up with any Astros trade deadline moves and other news by staying tuned to the Apollo blog and following us on Twitter and Instagram @ApolloHOU.
Thank you for reading.
- Joshua Hill (@Joshstros1)