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Astros trade rumors: Houston willing to deal starters for bat?

Could Keuchel or McHugh be on the move?

Harry How

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow fanned the flames of the trade deadline by talking to Ken Rosenthal Monday. For the second time in as many days, Luhnow suggested that Houston might like to add a major-league bat.

A shortage of available quality starting pitchers is creating a seller's market as the non-waiver deadline approaches at 4 p.m. ET Thursday. And now Luhnow is open to trading Keuchel, McHugh or right-hander Jarred Cosart for the right return.

"We do seem to have an excess of pretty good young starters so we wouldn't rule anything out," Luhnow said Monday. "We'd have to get back a big-league piece, preferably a bat, in a package that makes sense for the future and present."

Keuchel, McHugh and Cosart all have less than two years of major-league service. Any one of the three presumably could bring a hitter with comparable talent and service time in return.

Of the three, McHugh seems most likely to be dealt. He's a pop-up guy, similar to Lucas Harrell in that he came out of nowhere after another team gave up on him. Unlike Harrell, McHugh has the strikeout rate to really be effective moving forward. Plus, he's still relatively young.

Keuchel and Cosart also seem to be in a dead heat. Cosart is younger and has better stuff, but that effectiveness translates more to ground balls than strikeouts. His prickly public personae hasn't reared its head lately, but Cosart has clashed with the Astros management in the past. Keuchel, on the other hand, seems like one of the leaders of this pitching staff, but may have the opposite problem of Cosart: great results, iffy stuff.

How other teams value them will likely determine who gets moved, if anyone does. If the Astros can get a young impact bat for any of them, they should do it.

So, who's your trade target? What bat makes enough sense to give up something of value?