The trade deadline looms and the Astros are in the thick of the playoff race.
What moves do you predict the Astros will make at the trade deadline? Will they stand pat, make some minor moves, or make a major splash?
I believe the Astros will either stand pat or perhaps make a minor trade for a left-handed reliever, and I think that's more due to a dearth of options that are available at a sane price than it is about any particular abundance of satisfaction the team might feel about its current roster.
I typically give lukewarm takes that don't really answer the question. So I'll do something fun here instead:
Astros trade Tony Kemp, Albert Abreu, and Colin Moran to the Rays and receive Drew Smyly and a PTBNL from the Rays.
Astros fans are outraged because of his 5.42 ERA, but under Brent Strom's tutelage, Smyly gets his whack-a-doodle home run rate under control and posts a sub-3.00 ERA for the remainder of the season, while striking out 11 batters per nine. In a related move, the Astros trade Doug Fister to the Rangers in exchange for LHP Brett Martin.
IT COULD HAPPEN.
They stand pat. Their big addition came a couple weeks ago when they signed Yulieski Gurriel to that four-year contract. Oh, and calling up one Alex Ulysses Bregman.
Those are two pretty significant additions and since both are expected to stick with the team down the stretch, I don't see any areas they might try to improve. The bullpen? If anything, they have more guys than they know what to do with. James Hoyt is just wasting away in Fresno, for Pete's sake. The outfield? How do you juggle Tucker, Rasmus, Gomez, Marisnick and now Bregman and still add someone else? Catcher? What do you do with Castro and Gattis in the meantime?
This isn't a perfect roster, but it's one that cries out to be overhauled this winter, not now. The Astros will retool after Gomez, Castro and possibly Rasmus leave but for now, they'll stay put.
Which, given my track record of predicting stuff, means they'll trade for Andrew McCutchen in about 30 minutes.
I'm leaning more towards standing pat. I think they'd really like to add a starter, but the market is just too crazy. This is the downside of the extra wild cards; it will always be a seller's market.
I think they will make a major move. Remember that last year, the Astros traded for Scott Kazmir and then had a deal in place for Cole Hamels before Hamels exercised his no-trade clause to nix the deal. I remember hearing reports that the Astros' package was better than the package the Rangers eventually sent to the Phillies. The point being that Luhnow is not afraid to trade away multiple good prospects for quality MLB talent. Even though it is a seller's market, I still think Luhnow pulls off a big trade. As easy as it is to get attached to our favorite prospects, Luhnow understands that this is a business and the value of great prospects lies not only in their ability to eventually contribute at the MLB level, but also in their ability to help you acquire great MLB talent.
As a caveat, this is not necessarily what I think the Astros should do. I'm simply answering the question of what I think Luhnow will do.
I think they will add a left-handed reliever and move either Doug Fister or Scott Feldman. Both have contracts that end this season, and the market is so crazy for starting pitching right now (the Rangers just gave up an actual prospect for Lucas Freaking Harrell!) that I don't think the Astros front office can resist taking advantage of the value.
The one move I could see on the offensive side would be adding an outfielder. Buster Olney wrote in a recent article that the price isn't as high for outfielders because of more supply. If the Astros believe that George Springer can play center, they could acquire someone like Jay Bruce and shift Springer over, fixing the giant production problem out of the center field position this season.
Ultimately, I think they stand pat, and no deals of real substance will be made before the deadline. I agree with Mr. Coleman that the front office will view the additions of Gurriel and Bregman as the nice upgrades to the offense. When you think about the timing, their hopeful time frame of mid-August for Gurriel to be wearing an Astros' uniform is just a week or two longer than the trade deadline, so even the timing works out nicely.
However, I think that IF we do something, it will be something BIG. I think we will be in on four possible starting pitchers: Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Chris Archer, and Sonny Gray. Our pitching as a whole has been very good so far this season, and with Keuchel pitching well lately, and with McCullers getting healthy and stronger, it could get even better. But I think any deal made will be with the postseason in mind. I think the front office wants another elite arm to count on in a playoff series (heck, I think Luhnow has even explicitly stated it).
In a 7 game series, I don't think a rotation of Keuchel, McCullers, McHugh, and Fister scares many opponents. However, a playoff rotation of Keuchel, Sale, McCullers, and McHugh would definitely strike fear in the opposition, and equally important, it would give our team a confidence boost going to battle. I think the front office understands that while the current roster is not perfect, they have confidence going to battle with this team (plus Gurriel and Bregman) and fighting for a playoff spot, and hopefully eventually earning one.
But there are also good reasons why nothing major happens. I can see the White Sox deciding not to deal Sale or Quintana, and proceed to build their future around them. I can also see Archer's team-friendly deal simply too valuable for the cost-conscious Rays to trade away. The A's are the wildcard, and we can hope they pull another Josh Donaldson kind of deal for us, but even then, Gray has struggled mightily over the last year. We should learn from the Diamondbacks, and not pay for an ace, but end up with a Shelby Miller.
So, as appealing as adding Chris Sale would be (he or Jose Fernandez have been a pipe dream of mine for a long time now), there are a lot of good reasons (many out of our hands) that will more than likely prevent it from even getting close.
That is why I think we will end up standing pat.
I'm in agreement that the Astros stand pat during the trade deadline. Perhaps a minor trade happens that nets us another lefty reliever, or maybe some 1b help if the injury to Valbuena is serious enough.
Unless something incredulous happens, I don't see the Astros making a move. We've already seen the trade market prices for less than stellar pitching; imagine the ridiculous cost of trading for someone like Sale.
I wouldn't be surprised if the Astros stand pat, but I think they could be looking into trading for a starting pitcher. Is Luhnow really comfortable with Doug Fister and Mike Fiers comprising 2/5ths of the rotation during the final stretch for a playoff spot? Is he comfortable with either of those guys as a number 4 starter in a playoff series? This is a GM who has like, 7 guys who are competing for an outfield spot right now. I think he's still looking for pitching depth.
I don't think the Astros will stand pat this year at the trade deadline. I just don't. The Astros were six outs away from sending home the Royals who eventually won the World Series. Six outs! That's going to leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth. I have to believe that with this current surge in the standing towards a potential AL West crown that if there's an opportunity to better this 25 man squad that Jeff Luhnow and his front office of misfit toys will likely do so.
For me, this Astros squad is like a beautiful bake potato that has butter, cheese, and chives. It's great as is and flat out delicious, but would be food porn worthy with sour cream and bacon. That's right bacon.
The Astros do not have to do anything and can go into the playoffs as is and just be fine.
This is why I believe that if the Astros do anything it's going to be a minor tweak here or there and nothing in the blockbuster aisle of H.E.B.
I could see the Astros adding a LH RP such as Boone Logan and possibly adding some depth to our bench by going after someone such as Steve Pearce who has position flexibility.
If I believe Sean's answer (which I basically do, my previous response notwithstanding), there's ample reason to support it. Where were the signs last year that the Astros were about to make the Carlos Gomez trade? When did we know they would try to add an impact bat in center field? Or that they'd add another starting pitcher even after trading for Scott Kazmir?
We'd all do well not to underestimate this front office, especially at this time of year. They may not do anything, but they're having conversations and they're going to try to improve the team at the deadline. I'm just not sure anything gets done.
This team's only absolutely glaring need is a LOOGY. I believe that Luhnow will be able to get one of them for a cheap piece. I don't believe that any other moves will be made, and I really would hope they would stand pat. Trading for an Andrew Cashner or a possibly broken Sonny Gray doesn't seem to really look like a remedy to this team. There are many intriguing internal options to try and fix the back end of the rotation. The only way I would see the Astros making a trade would be a major blockbuster one to bring in a front line starter, and if they do that, I think it will come out of nowhere with very little buildup or rumor mongering.