The Astros, in stark contrast with the club that plays Hatfield to Houston’s McCoy, made no deadline additions to the Major League roster via trade this season. Despite being rumored involved with several clubs at the August 1st trade deadline, the Astros instead upgraded from within. First, they called up the best prospect in baseball, infielder Alex Bregman. Then, the Astros signed International Free Agent third baseman Yulieski Gurriel to a 4+ year deal and promoted him to The Show on August 21st. Not to be forgotten, the Astros also called up starting pitcher Joe Musgrove, first baseman A.J. Reed, and outfielder Teoscar Hernandez.
The Texas Rangers, on the other hand, bolstered their playoff hopes by trading six quality prospects in return for 1-1/2 seasons of catcher Jonathan Lucroy, reliever Jerey Jeffress, who has since been arrested for DWI and has entered an inpatient rehab clinic to sort himself out,* and two months of outfielder Carlos Beltran.
*With no intention by the author to troll Rangers fans (again), the Rangers made their own bed with this one, after Jeffress has already been suspended twice for substance abuse under MLB’s rules. So, one can’t give the Rangers a pass for ignoring the risk of acquiring such a player.
Comparing the mid-season moves of both clubs is only relevant due to their proximity, newfound rivalry, and playoff aspirations. It is an interesting case-study in differing approaches, and also highlights the intent behind the Astros’ #process.
BY THE NUMBERS
Both teams have received similar production from their additions.
- Carlos Beltran - .272/.320/.439, 4 HR, 122 PA (97 wRC+)
- Jonathan Lucroy - .291/.365/.605, 8 HR, 96 PA (153 wRC+)
- Jeremy Jeffress - 4.00 ERA, 11.1% K-BB, 9 IP
- Yulieski Gurriel - .306/.333/.389, 0 HR, 39 PA (95 wRC+)
- Alex Bregman - .315/.371/.569, 7 HR, 143 PA (152 wRC+ since trade deadline)
- A.J. Reed - .177/.292/.274, 1 HR, 72 PA (61 wRC+ since deadline...hang in there, big guy!)
- Teoscar Hernandez - .220/.333/.424, 3 HR, 69 PA (104 wRC+)
- Joe Musgrove - 5.06 ERA, 17.1% K-BB, 6 GS (better things to come!)
Also, Teoscar does things like this, to make the umpires’ lives difficult:
By comparing the stats of the players added, it’s clear that both clubs have gained a big boost through the production of their added players. This has fueled an Astros resurgence that has the club within spitting distance of a second Wild Card playoff spot.
The Rangers, meanwhile, have increased their division lead more by a (perhaps expected) spike in production from a few players already on their roster: Rougned Odor, Adrian Beltre, and Yu Darvish.
This is a simpler comparison.
- $47.5 million over five years for Gurriel
- CF Lewis Brinson (MLB #16 prospect)
- SP Luis Ortiz (MLB #55 prospect)
- CF Ryan Cordell (Brewers #18 prospect, career 126-ish wRC+)
- SP Dillon Tate (Yankees #11 prospect, #4 overall draft pick)
- SP Erik Swanson (MOR-type with good K-BB numbers)
- SP Nick Green (BOR-type)
If the Rangers win a World Series and/or if Lucroy continues to provide All-Star worthy production in 2017, no Rangers fan should have anything to complain about. Long-term though, even with the likes of Nomar Mazara and Jurickson Profar still on the roster, that’s a big dent in the Rangers’ farm system (they now have but two players ranked in MLB’s Top 100 compared to the Astros’ six) in return for a half-season of average-ish offense from Beltran and 1.5 years of Lucroy. Worth it? Maybe, but that book won’t be written for a long time.
On the Astros side of things, it’s clear to see how the club upgraded its present roster from within, but without causing any impact to their future depth or organizational health. Indeed, there is a decent chance that the Astros’ future considerations improved with this deal, if one buys into the theory that signing Gurriel gives the club a leg up in negotiations with his younger sib Lourdes, another star-level Cuban batter who should sign with a Major League club during this off-season.
Both teams should be happy with their mid-season acquisitions, even though coming from completely different angles. The Astros pursued a non-traditional IFA signing to bolster their roster, while promoting from within. The Rangers gambled via the more common “now at the expense of later” method used by so many clubs for decades.
Which club made the smarter moves, in your opinion?