Early Monday morning the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs got together on three players deal.
To the Cubs:
- Outfielder Dexter Fowler
To the Astros:
- Right-handed pitcher Dan Straily
- Infielder Luis Valbuena
It appears Fowler was the odd man out after the Astros acquisition of Evan Gattis from the Atlanta Braves, who is expected to play left field. While Fowler's on base skills will be missed at the top of the lineup, the Astros did trade from a position of strength to try and improve their depth in the rotation and at third base.
The former Oakland Athletics and Cubs pitcher Straily, 26, has a low 90s fastball, a good slider, and a changeup. He's a flyball pitcher that should get an opportunity at the backend of the rotation.
The 29 year-old infielder gives the Astros some flexibility in the infield. He will get an opportunity to be the starting third basemen for the Astros this season. Last year he had a breakthrough season offensively, but took a step back defensively, according to the defensive metrics. Over his career Valbuena has been a good defensive infielder that walks at an above average rate, but is overall below average offensively.
This is two teams getting together to trade from positions of strength. While Straily and Valbuena aren't the sexiest names they do provide the Astros with other options at their respective positions. The Astros are also getting players with more control: Fowler was in his final year of control; Valbuena has two years of control left; and Straily has five.
Jake Marisnick or George Springer are expected to be the starting centerfielder this season. Neither are a bad option and may even be a defensive improvement over Fowler. The Astros do take a hit to the top of their lineup, however, they have improved the infield and pitching depth, which makes them a better team overall.