"We're going to be viewed as a land of opportunity for teams to try to improve the teams that are in contention," Astros GM Ed Wade tells Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Indeed, as one of the few teams clearly out of the postseason race, the 'Stros should be one of baseball's busiest teams as we head into the trade deadline. Here's the latest on a few of Houston's trade chips…
- Jeff Keppinger's versatility makes him a strong infield option for contenders like the Tigers, Cardinals, Giants, Indians and Pirates, writes Stephen Goff of the Houston Astros Examiner. MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith looked at Keppinger's trade candidacy last week.
- Brett Myers's $10MM option for 2013 will vest if he makes 25 starts in 2012 and isn't on the DL at the end of that season, reports MLBTR's Tim Dierkes (Twitter link). Myers will be paid $11MM in 2012 and is slated to earn roughly $3MM over the rest of 2011. That 2013 option contains a $3MM buyout.
- Bud Norris, Mark Melancon and Jordan Lyles seem to be the only players the Astros won't consider trading, writes MLB.com's Brian McTaggart, though Wade wouldn't confirm if any Houston players were indeed "untouchable." Also from that piece, Wade notes he would run any potential deal by both current owner Drayton McLane and the incoming ownership group led by Jim Crane.
- Manager Brad Mills may be in "a can't-lose position" going into the last year of his contract, writes Chip Bailey of the Houston Chronicle. Even if Mills is fired after the season, he'll lose no respect around baseball since "most outsiders and onlookers recognize he has been managing in an impossible predicament of circumstances."