If The Astros Become Sellers

Today is April 19th and the Astros are four games out in the NL Central.  It seems rash to count them out entirely, but Baseball Prospectus' Playoff Odds Report gives the team a 0.0% chance of making the playoffs.  Let's see who they could offer in trades a few months from now.  The remaining salary figure is calculated as one-third of this year's salary plus any additional salaries and buyouts, so we're assuming players would be dealt around the July 31st trade deadline.

  • Carlos Lee, LF/1B: $24.7MM owed through 2012.  Since September of 2009, Lee is hitting .248/.290/.415 in 839 plate appearances.  He seems more likely to be released than traded.  Contenders might view Lee as nothing more than a bench bat, a role with which he could be unhappy.
  • Wandy Rodriguez, SP: Up to $38.3MM owed through 2014.  Since Wandy is paid only $7MM this year, he'd fit into most contenders' 2011 budgets.  His '13 club option becomes a player option with a trade, the salary of which is reflected in the $38.3MM figure.  If the 32-year-old is in the midst of a disappointing but not terrible season, the Astros could have a way of getting out of the contract.  If he's pitching well, the Astros could get solid players in return.
  • Brett Myers, SP: $16.3MM owed through 2012; could become $23.3MM through 2013 if option vests.  Like Rodriguez, Myers is earning only $7MM this year.  At the least he's an innings eater, and the Astros could extract a decent bounty from a desperate team at the trade deadline.  GM Ed Wade holds a couple of excellent trade chips in Rodriguez and Myers, though it remains to be seen if they'll become available.
  • Hunter Pence, OF: $2.3MM owed through 2011; arbitration eligible for 2012 and '13.  Moving Pence would be unpopular and could decimate an already-questionable offense.  Still, after winning his arbitration case in February, Pence is in line for $10MM+ in '12 and even more in '13.  If the Astros don't see him as part of their long-term plans, the best time to move him is this summer.
  • Brandon Lyon, RP: $7.25MM through 2012.  The Astros would have an inexperienced bullpen without Lyon, but Wade has to be willing to make short-term sacrifices.  If Lyon is pitching decently in July the Astros have a chance to get out of a contract that makes little sense for them.
  • Michael Bourn, CF: $1.5MM through 2011; arbitration eligible for '12.  Credible center fielders are hard to come by, and as a Scott Boras client Bourn probably won't be signing an extension with the Astros.  The Nationals could be a match.
  • Clint Barmes, SS: $1.3MM through 2011.  Barmes would like an extension, and considers himself an everyday player.  He'd need to play well for a few months to establish trade value.
  • Bill Hall, 2B: $1.25MM through 2011.  Hall is only through about a tenth of his season, but he'll need to pick it up to prove he should be a regular.  An acquiring team might want him back in a super-utility role.
  • Jeff Keppinger, IF: $778K through 2011; arbitration eligible for 2012.  Keppinger had foot surgery in January and may make his season debut in May.  He's probably the Astro most likely to be traded this summer.

36 Responses to If The Astros Become Sellers Leave a Reply

  1. MB923 4 years ago

    Cashman, take notes, so you don’t get angry

  2. Heh. “If”.

  3. PostMoBills 4 years ago

    Everyone has their price, but I really don’t see Pence being dealt at all.

  4. Dave_Gershman 4 years ago

    Good stuff, Tim.

    I was going to write about Pence today, actually. He is arb eligible as you said after this season and aside from being a lousy base runner he really doesn’t provide much than what you simply see, which is a guy who doesn’t walk much (his walk rate has dropped several points since ’09), a guy who fails to create many baserunning runs (-0.19 EQGAR [ground advancement runs] and -1.16 EQSBR [stolen base runs]. However, he’s always been above average in the field and hits for average/power a decent amount. So he should generate some trade value.

    I just don’t know if it’s worth it for the Astros.

    • Dave_Gershman 4 years ago

      “So he should generate some trade value.”

      Sorry, that should read “So he should generate some trade buzz”

      • Guest 4 years ago

        I agree about Pence. He and Bourn are both about to be paid a lot more than they’re probably worth. Wouldn’t be a bad idea to try and ship both of them out this summer while their value is still pretty solid

        On a side note…I worry about Wandy Rodriguez. He can be really good, but I think I’d trade him too before he does anything to make people think he isn’t worth his contract. Brett Myers is probably the only guy out of that group I’d consider holding onto for the future. His leadership (don’t laugh Phillies fans, he’s provided a lot of it in Houston), ability to eat quality innings and favorable contract make him an attractive piece to keep on a rebuilding team. Unless someone wants to offer a stud prospect in return, of course

  5. daveineg 4 years ago

    If I’m the Astros, I hold on to both Bourn and Pence who are both 28. They represent the core of the team. With Lee off the books after next year, I could see locking them up for 3-4 years. Myers and Rodriguez should each bring a quality young arm or two and trading them makes some sense.

    Astros are going to be drafting high the next couple years regardless. That’s where they have to focus. Dealing your few good players never worked for Pirates and it won’t work for Astros either.

    • MadmanTX 4 years ago

      I’d agree with you, but the upcoming change in ownership and the likelihood that being competitive is 5 years away for the Astros, do you hang on to Bourn and Pence for that length of time and hope their skills haven’t diminished or do you trade them now and get younger talent that can develop into better players during those 5 years? I’d make the trades.

    • I like keeping Bourn, but Pence’s inability to avoid sliders in the dirt is going to be his downfall. Pitch him low and away and he’s an out every time. Can’t hit it; can’t lay off.

      • daveineg 4 years ago

        Guys can learn to do that. The exact same thing was said about Corey Hart too. He still did it but not as much last year and his numbers took off.

        Pence has flaws sure, but he’s a talent, and that doesn’t grow on trees. He’s not the reason the Stros have slid to their current spot.

  6. j6takish 4 years ago

    The Astros are in a good position as they essentially have a monopoly on any starting pitchers worth trading for.

  7. cmock 4 years ago

    I really don’t see anyone but Pence bringing in much trade value, Myers could be worth a decent prospect. Wandy and Carlos Lee are both owed a ton of money. The Astros would have to eat loads to get anything of value for Rodriguez and Lee is really not worth much at all unless he came at no cost to the team looking to acquire him. Everyone else on that list is probably worth a lottery ticket at best. The Astros should have became sellers years ago if they wanted to compete anytime soon, if I can remember correctly their farm system isn’t exactly lighting the world in fire. They spent too many years thinking they’ll go on those second half runs, but they never really had enough to be serious contenders, IMO.

    • MadmanTX 4 years ago

      Blame the delusional Uncle Drayton, sitting in his fuhrerbunker and believing that this gutted roster was always a World Series caliber team. If they had committed at least the money to sign their past draft picks instead of sucking up to the Commish by sticking hard to the slot guidelines…I still shake my head at that.

      • cmock 4 years ago

        You hit the nail on the head there, I think it was just recently they started spending significantly on the international market as well.

    • Seems like people undervalue Wandy and Myers here. Wandy would command $13 or so mil annually were he to sign a free agent contract, so three years of control at his current one is a pretty solid deal.

      And I don’t know any team who wouldn’t want Myers. People seem to forget he completely reinvented himself on the Astros essentially to the tune of a QS every outing. Everyone except the phillies (for two reasons) should want this guy and trade a couple big chips for him if he is keeping this up by the deadline.

      Yes, obviously I’m an Astros fan.

  8. MadmanTX 4 years ago

    Lee is at best a DH in the AL, but really, you have to wonder if he’d get a roster spot with any of the AL teams even if he were available. Pence and Bourn might bring the best return in trades, but they wouldn’t exactly bring in team-changing hauls. Still, if all the guys above get traded, some talent is better than none to restock the farm system and start on a five year rebuilding plan like the Rangers did.

  9. 0.0% chance of making the playoffs? I don’t sense that as professional calculation, I sense that as an insult.

  10. wkkortas 4 years ago

    I’m guessing that, given their ownership situation, you could get the plumbing fixtures from the clubhouse if the price was right.

  11. 14 Rocks 4 years ago

    I would think that the Braves, unless McLouth starts hitting again, would be interested in Bourn if he were made available. They definitely have the minor leaguers to make it happen.

  12. LUWahooNatFan 4 years ago

    If Bourn becomes available, I’d definitely like to see the Nationals go after him. Nats are in need of a good CF, and leadoff man, and Bourn can do both

  13. nats2012 4 years ago

    If they do trade these guys, they have to really cash in with players coming back. You have to get young core players like the Nats did with Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps. One of the only trades I really like that the Nats made.

  14. mgsports 4 years ago

    They will get what they get for them if Traded. They need a 2B/a one year Catcher and others.

  15. Jason Klinger 4 years ago

    If Utley is shut down for the year, the Phillies will be all over Keppinger, and we all know Wade loves trading with his old friends in Philadelphia. Or maybe Ruben has compromising pictures of Wade tucked away somewhere.

    • rovert22044 4 years ago

      I would say you are correct, IF Utley stays inactive.

  16. rovert22044 4 years ago

    As a huge Astros fan, I really wish they would just go into rebuilding mode. Look at the Royals for example. They went into rebuilding mode a few years back, and now that have a packed team or future stars. I’m not saying the Astros will be the same, but I would rather us try than be a medicore (at best) team in the MLB. Here is what I think the ‘Stros should do:

    – Get rid of Carlos Lee. I know it would be hard, and he doesn’t have that much value, but at least we can get something out of him. His No-Trade Clause is the only thing preventing this…
    – Trade Wandy Rodriguez. Though he is a decent pitcher, he has good value. I think we could get 2-3 prospects for him. And with the new contract he signed would really help finding a suitor.
    – Explore trades for EVERY player on the team. Even though I would be upset if they traded Pence, Bourn, Myers, or Johnson, I think we should see what we can get for them. Some teams would give a good amount for them (or at least HOPE they would).

    This is what I would like the Astros to do. Basically, follow in the Royals/Pirates footsteps. Sure it will be a tough few years, but once it is over, we will be a good team with a revamped farm system with lots of potential.

    But this is just my two cents…

    • coldgoldenfalstaff 4 years ago

      The Astros have a few nice prospects, but still have one of the worst farm systems in the majors.

      As a fan, are you willing to sit through a bunch of 90-100 loss seasons to get the farm system restocked and then get to where the Royals and Pirates are now? I’m not.

      Hopefully the new owner(s) is announced soon, and a more competent GM installed (Andrew Friedman?) to put an end to this speculation of the Astros young, talented players on value contracts being moved for pennies on the dollar.

      We have some good pieces in place that we can build around, which can be the base for contending teams of the future.

      I do agree that Lee’s contract is going to be a problem until it expires, or the Astros get someone else to take it.

      • rovert22044 4 years ago

        I am half and half on that. It bothers me when the ‘Stros do bad, so it would suck to (well) suck for the next few seasons. But after that, we would be good. I think we have the tools, just the players aren’t living up to their potential. But if the team lived up to their potential and stayed healthy, we could be a decent team. All we need is a bullpen and we are good… IMO.

  17. davengmusic 4 years ago

    i have a small problem with the restocking the farm system ideology. pittsburgh has been restocking their farm system for a ludicrous amount of years, and only until recently do they have anything to show for it. for every andersen-for-bagwell trade, there’s at least 3 or 4 wagner-for-one-time-prospects-that-never-pan-out trades. it seems that teams are at their best when they invest in their farm systems, so wouldn’t it be best to hold onto guys who are playing above their contract value (bourn/pence/possibly myers if he’s still good at the end of the contract), offer arb when the contract is up, and pick up supplemental draft picks when they bolt for FA dollars?

  18. as far as I’m concerned Bourn is the only untouchable. I love his speed. I’m a life long Astro fan and I’m tired of loosing. SICK of it. We need a new Owner so bad it’s crazy. I’m tired of he’s a good guy owner but just doesn’t want to spend the money. For the city Houston we should have better sports. I hear people say oh they don’t suport the teams here BS…. When we have had good teams they sale out or do very well in attendance. I have a family of 4 it’s 100.00 buck in the cheap seat for me to go. beer 7.00 crazy. I say Give us a winner and we will be there. So if a team wants to trade a quality player for Pence or any other go for it.

  19. stroh 4 years ago

    Of the current starting lineup, I think only Michael Bourn is a sure keeper, given his two Gold Gloves, great speed having led the NL in steals two years in a row, and improving bat. Brett Wallace is starting to show why he was thought of so highly by the Cardinals and Blue Jays, so could become a keeper. Hunter Pence is an awkward player, doesn’t hit well in the clutch, and doesn’t walk. He does have some power, and a good arm in right field, so could turn into a decent trade chip. I would keep Wandy, but trade Myers. Wandy has great stuff, and has the potential to be a 15-18 game winner on a good team. Myers is an innings eater but will never win more than 13-14 games, and is probably good trade bait. I doubt Carlos Lee can be traded for anything other than a low minor league prospect, given his huge contract.

  20. harrigang 4 years ago

    I think just about every team out there would LOVE to have Pence. I’m a Rays fan, and even though our outfield is pretty decent, I’d still love to have his bat in our lineup. He has more RBI’s than any player on our team, and he’s on a team that doesn’t have much offense. I wish we weren’t such a poor team. We could get him and at least have another name in our lineup.

  21. hawkny1 4 years ago

    I do not know what his defense is about but as a hitter I could see Hunter Pence going to the Red Sox.  His numbers are similar to a long line of people who have played right field for the Sox, going back to the days of Jackie Jensen.  Might the Astros go for something like Lowrie, Reddick and Bowden, a shortstop who hits, a replacement right fielder who has power, and a young starter/long reliever?

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