Another deadline looms just 7 weeks away. Recent comments by Luhnow suggest that Houston will again be very active. Here's how I handicap the players on the 40 man roster:
Group 1: "Can't. He's hurt."
Includes: Alex White, Edgar Gonzalez, John Ely, Rudy Owens, Chia-Jen Lo
Odds: Minimal. I suppose Ed Gon could find a taker, and Lo is back pitching, but I doubt anything happens with these guys.
Fair Value: N/A. White still has a lot of value, while Lo, Owens, and Ely could all be useful down the road. Ed Gon, let's say 1 C- prospect.
Group 2: "Why?"
Includes: Trevor Crowe, Rhiner Cruz
Odds: Minimal. Crowe is a AAAA OF with a former 1st round pedigree, Cruz is a high velocity reliever whose age says he's not a prospect and MLB results say he's not a big leaguer. I really can't see how either player would be of any use to a contender.
Fair Value: 1 C- prospect.
Group 3: "I consider them long term pieces, so you're going to have to drastically overpay."
Includes: Jason Castro, Jose Altuve, Matt Dominguez, Jordan Lyles, Dallas Keuchel, Jose Cisnero, Paul Clemens, Jonathan Villar, Jarred Cosart
Odds: Minimal. This group of young players represent part of the next winning Astros' team. Trading them, in my humble opinion, would fly directly in the face of Luhnow's plan.
Fair Value: Lots of sway here. For Castro/Altuve/Lyles, the return would need to be massive (2 Top 100 types to start). The next tier (Dominguez, Keuchel, Villar, Cosart) would require at least 1 very good (Top 100) prospect plus some, and it's hard to see any team paying that. The 2 young relievers could probably be had for less, but coming up with a price for a player like that is difficult.
Group 4: "He's not a core piece, so I'll discuss him, but the price is higher than you probably want to pay."
Includes: Chris Carter, Brandon Barnes, JD Martinez, Marwin Gonzalez, Josh Fields, Brett Wallace
Odds: 5%. This group are the players that aren't quite pencilled into the long term plans, but there's an argument to be made that they could be contributors to a 2017 playoff team. Each player has reasons a contender would want them, be it defensive prowess, potential upside, power, or other skills teams could fall in love with.
Fair Value: Again, a good amount of variance within the group. Generally, I'd say the talks would start around a B- prospect that would fall in the back end of most teams' Top 10 prospect lists.
Hypothetical: Chris Carter to the Reds for Nick Travieso.
Group 5: "We're still developing him, so unless he's part of a bigger deal, let's forget about it."
Includes: Jimmy Paredes, Robbie Grossman, Brett Oberholtzer
Odds: 5%. This group of AAA prospects could be used as a sweetener, but it's unlikely. Unloading any of these 3 would be selling low, and it's very doubtful any contender would view them as able to contribute immediately.
Fair Value: 1 C+/B- prospect.
Hypothetical: Jimmy Paredes and Bud Norris to Baltimore for LHP Eduardo Rodriguez, RHP Branden Kline, LHP Josh Hader, and LHP Michael Belfiore
Group 6: "Sure, if you're looking for cheap middle relief or infield help, let's talk."
Includes: Jake Elmore, Brandon Laird, Travis Blackley, Hector Ambriz
Odds: 10%. There are always a multitude of contending teams looking for relief or bench help, and the players in this group may garner some interest. Since these players probably don't figure into the long term plans and may end up blocking prospects from getting at-bats in AAA or Houston, it may make sense to flip them for a prospect.
Fair Value: 1 C+ (Org Top 30) prospect.
Hypothetical: Hector Ambriz to Detroit for RHP Brenny Paulino
Group 7: "If we get our asking price, we will trade them."
Includes: Justin Maxwell, Carlos Corporan, Bud Norris, Lucas Harrell, Wade LeBlanc, Wesley Wright
Odds: 30%. This is probably the group that will generate the most discussion (both here and among GMs), so I'll talk about each player individually.
Norris- He's elevated his value so far this season, and could be a legit #3 for most teams. This could be a sell-high point for Norris, as he is healthy, peforming well, and has 2 years of team control remaining. A hypothetical for Norris might be shipping him to SF for RHP Chris Stratton, LHP Edwin Escobar, and OF Gustavo Cabrera.
Maxwell- he needs to put in a few weeks of good performance to show he is healthy, but if he does, he could pretty much help any team. He has good defense and power.
Corporan- he is in the midst of a breakout season and may be worth more to Houston than other teams, since he may be a good influence on Castro and the young pitchers. Also, Carlos Perez probably isn't ready for a callup.
Harrell- he is under team control through 2017, and if Norris is traded, he will be the only established pitcher in the rotation. If he is moved, the price needs to be high, and since most teams probably view him as a #4 guy, I doubt it happens.
LeBlanc- if a team is looking for a cheap acquisition that can fill multiple roles, this could be their guy. A decent track record combined with the ability to start or relieve and a low asking price may make him good bait.
Wright- see LeBlanc, although Wright probably can't realistically be viewed as a starter. He hasn't helped his value so far this season, although there is always a market for lefties.
Group 8: "Make an offer."
Includes: Jose Veras, Erik Bedard, Carlos Pena, Ronny Cedeno
Odds: 75%. There appear to be replacements waiting in AAA for each of these veterans, so they will definitely be shopped; the only question is how the market develops. There will surely be plenty of suitors for Veras. If Bedard stays healthy, he will be traded. Pena and Cedeno haven't performed above expectations and may not garner much return, but given that Brett Wallace and Jonathan Villar are doing well enough in AAA and both are already on the 40 man roster, they will be shopped hard.
Hypothetical: Veras to Detroit for OF Danry Vasquez.
I expect 5-7 players to be moved. Norris, Veras, Bedard, Pena, and Maxwell will all likely be gone by 8/1.