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.

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