Both Alyson Footer and Brian McTaggart are reporting via Twitter that the Astros have struck a deal with the Colorado Rockies for infielder Clint Barmes. Houston will send oft-injured right-hander Felipe Paulino to the Rockies in the deal.
Barmes is a middle infielder who has spent time at both second base and shortstop in his major league career. He immediately upgrades the infield situation and could start at either position. He has posted positive WAR values in all but one season in the majors (2007) and that's largely due to his defensive ability, according to Baseball Reference. His walk rate hovers between 5 percent and 8 percent. Barmes also strikes out a bunch (17.3 percent for his career), but shows some pop.
Barmes will be 32 by the start of next season, so he's not a long-term answer at the position, but he could be an upgrade over Tommy Manzella and Angel Sanchez. He's not really an upgrade over Jeff Keppinger at second. His defense would be much better than Kepp's, but his bat is nowhere near as good.
We have speculated about a Barmes trade for months now. Barmes is heading into his third arbitration year after signing a 3.325 million dollar, one-year deal to avoid arbitration last winter.
Okay, now time for some analysis. I'm with a lot of you on this. I don't love the trade. Barmes is old. He's a defense first guy who's probably stretched a bit playing short full-time. He's going to be expensive if he's not the starter (I bet around 4 million in arb this year). But, he's cheaper than any of the option on the free agent market. He'll hit about the same as Manzella or Sanchez might, but with a better glove. Maybe that will make a difference.
Two of the main sticking points here are that the Rockies could have just non-tendered him in coming weeks. What happened to Wade sticking this out and waiting to sign a low-cost veteran in January? Seems like he jumped the gun again. Second, I really wonder if Houston's perception of Paulino was this bad. I've gotten the sense that this front office didn't view him as highly as some of us on here did. He has phenomenal stuff, but can't seem to stay healthy or consistent over the course of a season. If we can see that, other teams can too. Maybe his trade value just wasn't that high. When I saw Jason Collette speculate on Twitter that he would have done a Jason Bartlett-for-Paulino deal, I wept a little. That would have been infinitely better than this deal.
Where do we go from here? This also makes me think the Astros might make a run at a mid-level starter. They were rumored to be interested in Dan Meyer as a lefty reliever and could go after another reclamation project. What if they went after someone like Carl Pavano, though? Injury risks mean he probably won't get a long contract, but he's an interesting player at the right price. Of course, Jon Heyman is reporting today that he's looking for 11 million over three years. I sincerely hope this doesn't mean that Jordan Lyles will be slotted into the rotation. They need someone else, like yesterday. I can't handle the stress of having our one top prospect hurt in his rookie season.
What do you think? Was this the help the Astros needed?