So, the other day, it was reported by MLB Network’s Jon Morosi that the Astros have been shopping Jake Meyers to interested clubs this offseason. That revelation by itself isn’t surprising, as Houston has an outfield surplus, and Meyers had fallen out of favor during the season’s second half. Add the fact that Mauricio Dubón had usurped Meyers as the fourth outfielder in 2023 — “designated” center fielder for certain starting pitchers — and it all felt like only a matter of time before the latter was deemed expendable.
Again, that news by itself wasn’t unexpected. Anyone paying close attention to the club in recent months likely figured something would happen this offseason on that front. But it is interesting to note how Brown likely desires to bolster the active roster — mostly the bullpen — without committing too much money. How does one accomplish that? Through trades and waiver claims. Brown has already done a bit of work on the waiver claims part, acquiring Bennett Sousa and then Oliver Ortega in that manner. While it remains to be seen what happens with Ortega, Sousa impressed in his brief time as an Astro and likely would’ve been added to the postseason roster if he was eligible. Alas, due to the timing of his waiver claim — post-September 1 — the southpaw couldn’t help out in October.
There is still a trade route to explore for Brown to improve his roster. Cue dangling Meyers as a potential trade candidate. Ironically, this rumor is somewhat reminiscent of when Brown’s predecessor, James Click, ultimately sent Myles Straw to the Guardians for Phil Maton and Yainer Díaz at the 2021 Trade Deadline. Straw was traded, in part, to open a roster spot for Meyers at the time. While Click didn’t last only a couple of days past the 2022 World Series as the general manager, the trade for Maton and Díaz will likely hold long-lasting ramifications for the club, specifically involving Díaz, who looks like the primary catcher moving forward in Houston. Brown is looking to do the same by acquiring at least another promising, controllable arm to help fill the void presumably left by Héctor Neris and Maton, dependent on what occurs this offseason.
This offseason offers us the first real chance to see how Brown operates as a general manager. Sure, we caught glimpses of how he operates at various points in season. But from a roster construction standpoint, the next couple of months offer a different look. Much like Click before him, Brown is looking to bolster the roster without breaking the bank by looking to trade a center fielder. Unlike Straw, however, Meyers has a bit more upside as a hitter, hopefully the further removed he is from his shoulder surgery. If he can rediscover his swing or rebound to a roughly league-average hitter, there is real value to glean from having Meyers on an active roster. It was encouraging to see Meyers reach base more consistently (.296 OBP) and swing for more power (.382 SLG) compared to 2022, but those figures remain depressed compared to his 2021 debut. Even so, I’d normally say that he ought to remain with Houston, but it is clear at this point that they favor Dubón. If so, then a trade to gain something of value from Meyers is the likely best course of action.
In turn, I’d advise Brown not to delay in finding a suitable return for Meyers this offseason. There is risk in his profile, especially if his bat never fully rediscovers that promise before his shoulder injury in 2021. And it is a real risk. But a cost-controlled outfielder with above-average defense and some pop with the bat is a valuable player in his own right, especially if that bat isn’t a complete liability. That defense was good enough to generate a 1.7 fWAR with a bat about 12% below the league average. Ultimately, there is enough to still like about Meyers to garner some interest. The question for Brown now is whether he can find something valuable in return like his predecessor once did. I am never one to hold one trade against an executive. But I do believe it offers a bit of insight into how that person operates and their processes. Trades, after all, are a bit of a tricky business. Let’s see what happens.