Houston Astros Rumors

Houston Astros trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

No Traction Between Yankees, Padres On Kimbrel; Astros Out Too

2:48pm: Drellich tweets that the Astros are out on Kimbrel as well.

2:25pm: There have been “zero talks” between the Yankees and Kimbrels in the run-up to the deadline, Sherman tweets.

2:17pm: Rosenthal tweets that there’s no traction between the Yankees and Padres in Kimbrel talks.

12:54pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Yankees believe the Padres to be discussing a larger deal with other teams that involves Kimbrel.

11:39am: Both Rosenthal and Olney (Twitter links) now say there haven’t been any discussions between the Yankees and Padres regarding Kimbrel recently. Olney says there have been none “so far in this work day,” which could suggest that talks have stalled since their overnight discussions.

Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets that multiple teams say GM A.J. Preller has consistently asked for “a ton” in return for Kimbrel.

11:24am: The Yankees are currently the team that is in the hottest pursuit of Kimbrel, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).

7:48am: The Yankees and Padres spent much of the night working on a trade to send closer Craig Kimbrel from San Diego to New York, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. The Astros, too, are in the mix for Kimbrel. Stark’s colleague, Buster Olney, tweets that he’s hearing the Yankees connected to Kimbrel as well.

Reports last night indicated that the Yankees would be willing to take on all of the $28MM that Kimbrel is guaranteed through the 2017 season. Stark hears the same but adds that the Yankees are continuing to balk at the possibility of including top prospects Luis Severino, Greg Bird and Aaron Judge in a potential swap. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets that the Padres have sought top shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo as well but been denied to this point.

Late last night, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reported that the Padres and Astros were at least discussing something big that involved Kimbrel and possibly one of Tyson Ross or Andrew Cashner. Stark adds today that it’s not known how much of Kimbrel’s contract the Astros would be able to take on after absorbing the $12MM remaining on Carlos Gomez‘s deal yesterday.


Latest On Aroldis Chapman

The Reds are listening on flamethrowing closer Aroldis Chapman, an All-Star in each of the last four seasons.  The 27-year-old is under team control through 2016.  The latest:

  • A source tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle that the Astros are more likely to make a deal with the Reds than the Yankees (Twitter link).
  • The Diamondbacks say their talks with the Reds for Chapman are now completely dead, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
  • It looks like the Diamondbacks are no longer in on Chapman, tweets MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert.

Earlier Updates

  • Arizona’s offer for Chapman includes pitching prospect Braden Shipley and one or two more of their top ten, tweets Nightengale.
  • Nightengale says the Reds’ price tag on Chapman is high, but five teams are involved, three seriously.  He feels someone will meet the Reds’ demands.
  • The Reds now have stronger offers for Chapman than the one made by the Diamondbacks, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today, and Arizona is considered a long shot to acquire him.  Jon Heyman of CBS Sports notes that while the Yankees have checked in, that’s not likely to happen either.  The Astros are another club that has been linked to Chapman, tweets Heyman.   Their interest goes to the ownership level, he adds.

Pitching Notes: Yankees, Nolasco, Twins, Teheran, Leake

The Yankees are still looking at the market for starters, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post, but “feel doubtful” of getting anything done on that front. New York feels comfortable with its internal options to fill in for the just-DL’ed Michael Pineda, he adds. That may be true, of course, but we had heard of interest in a rotation addition prior to Pineda’s injury, so it seems unwise to count New York out of the market until the final bell has sounded.

More pitching notes:

  • The Twins and Padres have had some trade discussions, and the concept of offloading the remaining two years of Ricky Nolasco‘s contract has been floated in those discussions, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. As Wolfson notes, Jeremy Nygaard of TwinsDaily.com first suggested the notion. Nolasco does have a three-team no-trade clause but it does not include San Diego, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press notes on Twitter.
  • The Twins are looking at set-up options that include Joaquin Benoit of the Padres and several Rays pitchers, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Minnesota has long been said to be pursuing pen arms, and it would be surprising if the team doesn’t make an addition today. We’ve already heard of recent interest in Tampa Bay’s relief arms from the Astros.
  • Julio Teheran may have been available at one point, at a high price, but the Braves now seem more or less unwilling to move him, Heyman tweets. Atlanta just sent young starter Alex Wood to the Dodgers, of course, which could have impacted their willingness to part with another controllable arm (particularly since he’s scuffled this year).
  • The Giants believe they can hold onto the just-acquired Mike Leake beyond this year, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com tweets. San Francisco has had no trouble reaching late-season extensions in recent years, or with re-signing its own free agents off the open market, so it certainly bears watching.


Relief Market Notes: Astros Working Hard, Twins, Lowe

The Astros are “pushing hard” to find an upgrade in the bullpen and have several irons in the fire, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Given the players under consideration, it looks like Houston is aiming high. We just heard of talks with the Padres that may include Craig Kimbrel, and Bowden says they’ve also discussed Joaquin Benoit. As Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweeted earlier, the Rays have spoken with the Astros about pen arms, though he adds nothing seems likely there, and Bowden lists Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee as names that have come up. And Houston has even made inquiries on outstanding Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, he adds.

Here’s more on the relief market, which should be among the most active areas of discussion leading up to tomorrow’s deadline.

  • Though the Twins are in the market for relief help, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (via Twitter) that they’re not interested in either Junichi Tazawa or Craig Breslow of the Red Sox. Berardino hears that the Twins are turned off by Tazawa’s five-plus years of service (he’ll be a free agent after 2016) and Breslow’s impending free agency.
  • Mariners right-hander Mark Lowe is drawing quite a bit of interest, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The journeyman reliever is in the midst of a breakout season, having pitched to an incredible 1.00 ERA with 11.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 36.5 percent ground-ball rate in 36 innings this season. Lowe’s average fastball velocity of 95 mph is his best since 2011, and because he took a minor league deal in an attempt to revitalize his career (so far, so good), any team could afford him from a financial standpoint.

Astros, Padres Working On Significant Deal; Nothing Close At Present

12:44am: The sides are talking, but nothing is close, a source tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).

12:38am: The Astros and Padres are “working on ‘something big,'” Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. It’s unclear precisely what is involved, but he notes that Tyson Ross and Craig Kimbrel have both been discussed, with San Diego potentially looking for a center field acquisition.

Ross has been discussed quite heavily as a hotly-pursued trade piece. He’s controllable for two more seasons after this one, fairly young, and relatively inexpensive. And Ross has posted rather steady, rather high-quality results for some time now. Much the same could be said of Kimbrel, who is reportedly in play.

Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets that Houston center fielder Jake Marisnick is “believed to be in play” in talks. The Astros obviously have a theoretical glut in the outfield after adding Carlos Gomez earlier tonight. Marisnick, who came over in a deadline deal last summer, could conceivably be put to better use as a trade piece with players like Gomez, George Springer, Colby Rasmus, a


Latest On Craig Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel‘s name is still coming up on the trade market, as ESPN’s Buster Olney notes (Twitter links), adding that the Yankees remain positioned to make a run at the Padres’ closer. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted tonight that many outside executives believe that the Yankees will ultimately end up with Kimbrel (though he also points out that industry consensus expected the Yankees to land a top-tier starting pitcher not that long ago as well). Earlier today, ESPN’s Jayson Stark linked the Yankees to Kimbrel as well.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports tonight that the Yankees are still in the mix for Kimbrel and have even expressed a willingness to assume the remaining $28MM or so on Kimbrel’s contract in order to help facilitate a trade. The Astros, too, could be interested in making a “stealth try” for Kimbrel, though their involvement to this point is unknown. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune hears that the Astros are indeed still in on Kimbrel, though tonight’s Carlos Gomez acquisition makes it even less likely that they’ll meet the Padres’ asking price (Twitter link).

The Yankees have been more prominently linked to starting pitching than relief pitching this summer, and those rumors will probably escalate in the wake of today’s injury to Michael Pineda. However, adding an elite reliever to mix in with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances would effectively shorten the game for a potentially shaky rotation (in a similar manner to the Royals’ dominant trio of Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera).

Kimbrel got off to a rough start this season, surrendering three early homers that caused his ERA to balloon to a much higher number than observers are accustomed to see in association with his name. He’s returned to his old form over the past couple of months, surrendering just three earned runs over a span of 25 2/3 innings with a 36-to-10 K/BB ratio in that time. Many reports this evening have pegged the Padres as a team that looks to be on the verge of an exceptionally active finish to the non-waiver trade season, so Kimbrel figures to be one of many Padres that will see his name bounced around the league late tonight and into tomorrow.


Astros Acquire Carlos Gomez, Mike Fiers For Four Prospects

The Astros and Brewers are announced a blockbuster trade on Thursday that will send center fielder Carlos Gomez, right-hander Mike Fiers and an international bonus slot (valued at $287,500) to Houston in exchange for outfield prospects Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana, right-hander Adrian Houser and lefty Josh Hader. The Astros did not have to make a 40-man move to add either player, as they had an open spot, and Santana was already on the 40-man.

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Gomez, of course, was believed to be headed back to the Mets last night in a swap that would’ve sent Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores to the Brewers, but the trade fell through after names were agreed upon due to a combination of medical concerns pertaining to his hip and perhaps financial elements as well.

Adding Gomez to the outfield mix should result in a significant improvement for the Astros over the remainder of the season. Despite hamstring issues that cost him three weeks earlier in the year, Gomez’s defense remains above average, and if he’s 100 percent healthy, he has a track record as one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball.

Plus defense has long been part of Gomez’s game due to his excellent range, but Gomez over the past three-plus seasons has turned himself into a genuine offensive weapon at the plate as well. Dating back to Opening Day 2012, Gomez is a .275/.335/.474 hitter that has averaged 24 homers and 38 stolen bases per 162 games played. Wins above replacement pegs Gomez at an average of five to five-and-a-half wins per year in that time, depending on your preferred version of the metric. Houston center fielders have been sound from a defensive standpoint this season, but they’ve combined to bat just .226/.285/.370, making Gomez an upgrade on both sides of the ball.

In addition to his strong all-around game, though, Gomez made for an appealing trade candidate due to his contractual situation. He’s the rare Scott Boras client that took an extension as opposed to waiting for free agency, and while he should still secure a $100MM+ contract with ease following the 2016 season, he’s currently in the midst of a three-year, $24MM pact that has worked out beautifully for the Brewers. Gomez is earning $8MM in 2015 — of which about $3.02MM remains — and he’ll earn $9MM in 2016. Provided he remains healthy, the Astros will pay about $12MM for as many as 221 games of Gomez’s career.

And of course, Gomez isn’t the only piece the Astros are receiving in this deal. By persuading the Brewers to include Fiers in the contract, they’ve landed a rotation piece that can potentially be controlled through the 2019 season. In fact, he won’t even be eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season, meaning that Houston can control him for roughly the league minimum.

Fiers, 30, is a soft-tossing righty and a pronounced fly-ball pitcher, but he’s performed well overall despite an average of just 88.8 mph on his fastball. He’s somewhat of a late bloomer but has a 3.89 ERA in 118 innings this season and a lifetime 3.66 mark in 341 2/3 innings as a Major Leaguer. Fiers has averaged 9.2 K/9 despite his pedestrian heater, and he’s paired that ability to rack up K’s with solid control (2.8 BB/9). He should step directly into the Houston rotation behind ace Dallas Keuchel, rental acquisition Scott Kazmir and right-handers Collin McHugh and Scott Feldman. Fiers drew quite a bit of interest from the Blue Jays earlier this month, though Toronto has obviously gone a different route and made a splash of their own with the acquisition of David Price.

From the Brewers’ perspective, Phillips is the clear prize of the deal. A sixth-round pick by the Astros out of high school in 2012, the 21-year-old has risen to the Double-A level and shown no signs of being overmatched by the pitching he’s faced. Phillips is hitting .320/.377/.548 with 16 homers and 16 stolen bases this season while appearing primarily in center field. He entered the season as one of the Astros’ top prospects, but his excellent first half propelled him to rank 21st on Baseball America’s midseason Top 50, 35th on the midseason Top 50 of ESPN’s Keith Law and 39th on the midseason edition of MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects. Law calls him a “true five-tool” player with the potential to remain in center field, and MLB.com gives him above-average tools across the board, with his speed and arm rating as the top tools in his profile. He should immediately become the club’s No. 2 prospect behind shortstop Orlando Arcia.

The 22-year-old Santana, originally acquired by the Astros in the 2011 Hunter Pence trade with the Phillies, went hitless in a 17-at-bat big league debut in 2014 but has fared better in another limited sample in 2015, hitting .256/.310/.462 with a couple of homers in 42 plate appearances. A corner outfielder by trade, he could potentially step right onto the Brewers’ big league roster. He’s slashed .305/.400/.515 in 195 Triple-A games — part of the reason for his No. 7 ranking on MLB.com’s midseason Top 30 for the Astros and No. 87 on their overall Top 100. Santana has everyday upside but there are plenty that worry about his penchant for strikeouts; he’s whiffed at a 29.9 percent rate throughout his minor league career.

Hader came to Houston alongside L.J. Hoes from the Orioles in the 2013 trade that sent Bud Norris to Baltimore. He ranked eighth among Astros farmhands at the time of the swap, per BA, and 14th on MLB.com’s list. BA notes that Hader’s delivery at times draws comparisons to Chris Sale, and MLB.com writes that his velocity gets up to 96 mph but is paired with inconsistent secondary pitches. Hader has a 3.17 ERA with 69 strikeouts and 24 walks in 65 1/3 innings at Double-A as a 21-year-old this season.

Houser has a 5.10 ERA split across two levels (Class-A Advanced and Double-A) this season, and he’s worked as both a starter and a reliever. He’s averaged 8.5 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 this year, and MLB.com rated him 21st among Houston prospects prior to the trade. Their scouting report praises his mid-90s fastball and ability to generate grounders but notes that the 22-year-old’s control has plenty of room for improvement.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported (via Twitter) that Gomez and Fiers were going to Houston. The Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich reported that there would be four to five prospects in the return (Twitter link). Lookout Landing’s Nathan Bishop nailed the return (on Twitter), and Heyman added that all of the medicals had been approved.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Stark, Crasnick On Mariners, Cubs, Ross, Padres, Chapman

The Mariners and Cubs have had recent trade talks, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter), though he’s yet to ascertain which specific players were involved. The conversations didn’t center around Starlin Castro, Crasnick continues. Clearly, there could be a wide range of targets at play here, though the Cubs have been connected to pitching upgrades in both the rotation and the bullpen.

Some more trade notes from a couple of ESPN’s top reporters…

  • In today’s Rumor Roundup over at ESPN, Jayson Stark writes that other teams view Tyson Ross as the Cubs‘ top trade target. Chicago likes Andrew Cashner but considers him a fallback option, should the price for Ross become too steep. Both Castro and Javier Baez have previously been of interest to the Padres, although Castro’s stock is way down. Stark also reported today that the Cubs are now “aggressively” shopping Castro.
  • From that same piece, Stark adds that other clubs believe Justin Upton, Cashner and Joaquin Benoit are the most likely players to be traded by the Padres, and one particular executive to whom Stark spoke feels it’s “likely” that Craig Kimbrel will be traded as well. In a followup tweet, Stark adds that the number of people who feel Kimbrel will end up with the Yankees is “amazing.” New York already possesses a dominant late-inning duo in the form of Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. Adding Kimbrel to the mix would give them a trio to rival the three-headed bullpen monster (Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera) that the Royals rode to the World Series in 2014. The Astros, too, like Kimbrel, according to Stark. However, Houston wouldn’t want to take on all of the money he’s owed.
  • Stark also tweets that the Reds are still discussing Aroldis Chapman with teams, but the price remains very high. At this time, the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Giants and Astros are all in the mix for Chapman, who is earning $8.05MM in 2015 and is controlled via the arbitration process for the 2016 season.

Pitching Notes: Teheran, Karns, Ross, Giants

We just checked in on Yovani Gallardo, who may or may not be dealt before the deadline. Here’s the latest on the starting pitching market, which was one of many topics covered in today’s podcast with Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca.

  • Despite reportedly being prepared to deal Alex Wood to the Dodgers, the Braves are still listening on Julio Teheran, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports (Twitter links). He suggests, however, that the club may just be hoping for an overpay rather than actively shopping the young righty.
  • Given their starting depth, the Rays have indicated a willingness to listen to offers on right-hander Nate Karns, Passan reports on Twitter. Karns is already 27, but has ample team control and has emerged with 115 innings of 3.37 ERA pitching this year.
  • Padres righty Tyson Ross is “drawing intense interest,” Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. The AstrosBlue JaysCubs, and Dodgers are all in the mix, says Heyman, and Houston could be the “at the forefront” of efforts to pry him away from San Diego. Notably, many of those clubs are also viewed as prime contenders for David Price. Heyman further breaks down Price’s market in an article today.
  • The Giants are also said to be looking into a run at Price after falling short in a “late push” for Cole Hamels (per Rosenthal, on Twitter). GM Bobby Evans says he doesn’t foresee the club parting with players from the team’s current everyday lineup in any deals, as Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com tweets. But the Tigers do like several of San Francisco’s minor league arms, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets, which could make them plausible pursuers of the ace lefty.

Astros Designate Roberto Hernandez

The Astros designated righty Roberto Hernandez for assignment to open a roster spot for Jed Lowrie, tweets Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.  Lowrie will start tomorrow for the Astros at third base, after recovering from May thumb surgery.

The Astros signed Hernandez to a minor league deal in February, and he made the team out of spring training.  His contract was worth $2.65MM.  Hernandez, 35 in August, posted a 4.36 ERA, 4.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.96 HR/9, and 51.9% groundball rate in 84 2/3 innings, including 11 starts.