Houston Astros Rumors

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

West Notes: Tulowitzki, Preller, Astros, Mulder

Troy Tulowitzki again today voiced his frustration with the Rockies‘ losing ways, though he clarified to the Denver Post’s Nick Groke that his frustration doesn’t mean that he wants to be traded. Said Tulo: “It doesn’t mean I want out of here. It means I’m sick and tired of losing. Something needs to change. Hopefully that comes fairly quickly.” Tulo went on to cite the Red Sox and their quick turnaround from cellar-dwelling team to World Series champions, also opining that the lineup the Rockies fielded in April was good enough to contend.

Here’s more from baseball’s Western divisions…

  • New Padres GM A.J. Preller won’t be taking many (if any) colleagues with him to San Diego, Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News“In this case,” said Daniels, “with such a notable position and somebody who has been here so long and has unique relationships, there are strong restrictions on their ability to take anybody else.” As Fraley notes, such the Rangers put some strict guidelines in place when granting Preller permission to interview, and such tactics are not uncommon when a front office allows one of its members to interview with another club.
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow will monitor the waiver wire with an attentive eye as always in 2014, but he tells MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart that he doesn’t expect to move anyone, as the club did in 2013 with Wesley Wright“I expect if we put our guys on waivers, most of them will get claimed because they’re young and affordable,” said Luhnow, “but we’re not looking to do anything. … Last year, we ended up moving Wesley through that, but we don’t anticipate anything this year.”
  • Left-hander Mark Mulder, who was with the Angels in Spring Training but tore his Achilles tendon before his comeback attempt could get off the ground, tells the Orange County Register’s Jeff Fletcher that he has begun throwing and will attempt another comeback in 2015 (Twitter link). Mulder, who turned 37 yesterday, hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2008 and hasn’t topped 11 innings since 2006.

Quick Hits: Draft, Astros, Lester, Souza

Since next year’s amateur draft will be the 50th June draft, Baseball America’s John Manuel thinks MLB should use the milestone to make changes to the draft’s structure.  Manuel’s suggestions include moving the draft to All-Star week, shortening it to 20 rounds and implementing a standardized pre-draft physical for every player that would help avoid another Brady Aiken situation.  Testing would take place during “a medical combine” that would get official gauges on other measurable physical skills and baseball abilities.

Here are some notes from around the sport…

  • The Astros will have a hard time finding 40-man roster spots for all of their promising Rule 5 draft-eligible prospects, Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper writes.  One interesting facet of the Jarred Cosart trade with the Marlins, Cooper notes, was that Houston freed up two extra 40-man roster spaces for use this winter.
  • The perception that Jon Lester and the Red Sox have some sort of tacit agreement that the southpaw will re-sign with the team this winter is “amusing,” ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in his latest Insider-only column.  Such an agreement would require a lot of trust between both sides, and after the way the Sox approached negotiations with their former ace, “the Lester-Red Sox relationship degraded into a business transaction.”  This doesn’t necessarily mean Lester won’t re-sign, Olney notes, just that Boston will need to greatly increase their contract offer in the offseason.
  • Also from Olney’s column, he lists nine starters who the Red Sox could pursue in trades this winter since the free agent pitching options (and/or prices) may not be to Boston’s liking.
  • When the Nationals were trying to acquire a reliever before the deadline, several teams asked for outfield Steven Souza in return, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports.  Souza, who received his second big league call-up today, has posted huge numbers in each of his last three minor league seasons, including a .354/.435/.601 slash line with 18 homers and 24 steals (of 31 chances) in 386 PA for Triple-A Syracuse this year.

July Trade Recap: AL West

We’ve got recaps in the books for the AL Central, NL CentralAL East and NL East, which means its time to turn our focus westward. We’ll start with the AL West, which had no shortage of interesting moves.

Angels

Astros

Athletics

Mariners

Rangers

Synopsis

The arms race was on in the AL West, with the three teams at the of the division shifting resources into present production and the two at the bottom looking to the future. Somewhat interestingly, the three buyers each had a key area that they addressed with multiple trades.

For a Halos club that is closing in on Oakland for the best record in baseball, the focus was clearly on the bullpen. GM Jerry Dipoto added four relievers (counting the since-released Hill), headlined by Street. It took a good portion of the club’s much-maligned young talent to make these deals. Street, in particular, required a fairly substantial return given his short, reasonably-priced contract. It bears noting that Grilli, added in a change-of-scenery swap for the former closer Frieri, has been lights out since coming to Anaheim (2 earned runs, 19 strikeouts, 3 walks in 14 1/3 innings). While the pen now looks to be in good shape, it will be interesting to see if (and if so, how) Dipoto adds depth to a rotation that now looks especially thin after an injury to Tyler Skaggs.

“Bold” seems too weak a descriptor to capture GM Billy Beane’s moves. He gave up the organization’s best-know player in Cespedes and its best prospect in Russell to get Lester (a tested, rented gun for the rest of the year), Samardzija (who has thrown like a top-line starter this year and comes with another season of control), and Hammel (an innings-eating, back-of-the-rotation arm who will soon be a free agent). The club sacrificed a lot of future value upside, though Cespedes’s is more limited than might be expected because he comes with just one more year of control and cannot be made a qualifying offer. But that is what it took to re-make the club’s rotation, which will obviously play a key role as Oakland looks to fend off the Angels in the division and ultimately make an extended postseason run.

Of course, Beane also had an eye on a crafty means of replacing the lost production of Cespedes. By adding Gomes in the Lester swap, the A’s will be able to utilize him in a promising platoon with Stephen Vogt. And Fuld will offer the team plenty of flexibility as well, with injuries clouding the outlook for regular center fielder Coco Crisp and reserve Craig Gentry, though the club surely would have preferred not to give up the useful Milone.

Seattle’s additions flew under the radar a bit, but nevertheless seemed very well-conceived. With a long-term second baseman at the MLB level and tons of bullpen arms, it did not hurt much at this point to move Franklin and Pryor. In return, the team added an above-average MLB center fielder (Jackson, controllable through arbitration next year) and a much-needed bat (Morales, whose path this season has been no less strange than that of Stephen Drew). Denorfia, too, looks to be a solid bench piece. Oft-doubted GM Jack Zduriencik deserves credit, especially for managing to insert Seattle into the David Price deal and coming away with Jackson as the prize for making the pieces fit for Tampa and Detroit.

Finally, we come to the sellers. Texas had more of the look of a traditional seller, with several veterans on expiring contracts that were of little use to a team that was obliterated by injuries. But the club elected not to make any of the really major moves that some imagined possible beforehand (Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, etc.), and even chose not to take a substandard return for outfielder Alex Rios (who remains an August trade candidate). The prospect haul for Soria looks solid, especially given the team’s need for arms in the mid-term, while Frasor brought back a player that looks like a younger, cheaper, longer-controlled version of himself. We don’t know what GM Jon Daniels could have achieved for the team’s more desirable players, but the lack of such moves seems to indicate that the club will seek to contend next year. It will certainly be fascinating to see how he goes about re-constructing a contender.

Houston, meanwhile, did not have many veteran pieces at all, let alone ones that figured to draw much interest. The team decided not to move closer Chad Qualls, a non-move which drew some jeers but might well have made sense if (as is likely) he was not going to bring much back anyway. The same holds true of resurgent southpaw Tony Sipp, who will be a cheap piece for the ‘Stros next year. Instead, GM Jeff Luhnow announced that he would consider moving some of the team’s young arms, and then sat back and waited to be overwhelmed. That apparently happened, as he pulled the trigger to move a talented-but-questioned arm in Cosart (along with the reasonably valuable Hernandez) in exchange for a few prospects who had no place (Marisnick) or had disappointed (Moran) in the Miami organization. Baseball Prospectus calls this a sell-low swap, and it looks that way from here as well. It’s certainly an interesting deal from the two teams that ended last year at the very bottom of baseball’s cellar. While the results will take years to tally, the deal could (but might not) have rather substantial effects on the trajectory of these two organizations.



Quick Hits: Hahn, Royals, Luhnow, Cotts

The White Sox didn’t make any noise on deadline day but things could’ve been much different had a proposed three-team trade been finalized, GM Rick Hahn told reporters (including ESPN Chicago’s Sahadev Sharma).  The deal “would’ve wound up netting us such a [future] piece, a guy who’d been a target for a while,” Hahn said, though talks fizzled about two hours before the 3pm CT deadline.  While no trades were made, Hahn felt some progress was made in negotiations and “hopefully laid the groundwork for some future deals,” while also noting that the ChiSox will explore the August waiver wire for any possible moves.

Here are some items from around baseball as we wrap up an extremely busy week here at MLB Trade Rumors…

  • The Royals also didn’t make any moves yesterday as the team was seemingly hamstrung by an unwillingness to either trade its young players or (perhaps more pressingly) add payroll, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes.
  • The Astros were willing to discuss trading their young starters and indeed sent Jarred Cosart to Miami.  Beyond that, the club couldn’t find any satisfactory offers for Collin McHugh or Dallas Keuchel, GM Jeff Luhnow told reporters, including The Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich and MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. “Probably Keuchel was the one that we received the most inquiries on…we weren’t willing to move Keuchel,” Luhnow said.  It seemed as if Luhnow cared for the McHugh offers even less, saying other teams apparently “felt like just because we picked him up off of waivers we might get rid of him for cheap.”
  • The Rangers have spoken with left-hander Neal Cotts about a new contract for next season, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.  Cotts earned $2.2MM in 2014, his final arbitration-eligible year, and he’ll be a free agent this winter.  Grant believes this new contract could “likely be a club-friendly deal.”  Given that Cotts is 34 and has a checkered injury history, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cotts look for security over a higher dollar figure.
  • Also from Grant’s piece, he notes that while the Rangers are suffering through a disastrous season, they could quickly rebound next year.
  • Looking at teams who did and didn’t make key moves, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports lists the 15 winners and eight losers of the trade deadline period.
  • Big TV contracts are seen as huge boosts to team revenues, yet as Fangraphs’ Wendy Thurm observes, broadcaster disputes have left Padres, Astros and Dodgers fans unable to watch their teams play on local TV while the Nationals and Orioles seem poised for a major legal battle over MASN’s broadcasting fees.
  • The Tigers‘ acquisition of David Price drew all the headlines yesterday, but the team’s need for a left-handed reliever went unaddressed at the deadline, MLB.com’s Jason Beck points out.

Top Prospect Promotions: Foltynewicz, Ranaudo

Two well-regarded young arms both got the call for their respective teams. At this point, even if both players stay on the MLB roster the rest of the way, they will of course not be able to accrue enough service time to set them up for eventual Super Two qualification. On the other hand, they’ll bank plenty of service days now and begin moving towards arbitration eligibility. Let’s take a look:

  • Righty Mike Foltynewicz will get his call-up for a relief role with the Astros, reports Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). The 22-year-old with a big fastball currently ranks 65th on MLB.com’s list of the game’s top 100 prospects, with Baseball America ranking him 59th coming into the year. With Foltynewicz, the big question is whether he can develop his secondary offerings to the point that he will stick in a rotation, but Houston will plan to use him in relief this season and give him a chance at earning a starting role in the spring (according to a tweet from MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart).
  • Meanwhile, Anthony Ranaudo will take the bump today for the Red Sox after previously scheduled starter John Lackey was dealt away, as Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal tweets. Ranking 82nd among the game’s prospects per MLB.com, the 24-year-old righty has put up excellent results in each of the last two seasons as he climbed through the minor league ranks. This year, he owns a 2.41 ERA through 119 1/3 innings at Triple-A, with 7.5 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9. MLB.com praises his sinker and sharp curve, though says he still was work to do refining his change.

Marlins Acquire Jarred Cosart, Enrique Hernandez For Colin Moran, Jake Marisnick, Comp Pick

The Marlins have announced a multi-player trade with the Astros that will bring starter Jarred Cosart, shortstop Enrique Hernandez, and outfielder Austin Wates to Miami in exchange for third baseman Colin Moran, outfielder Jake Marisnick, pitcher Francis Martes, and the Marlins’ 2015 compensation pick.

MLB: Houston Astros at Chicago White Sox

In short, both of baseball’s worst teams from 2013 have shuffled a series of young players in a deal that could have wide-ranging repercussions for both franchises. Miami was said to be chasing a young arm, and that’s exactly what they got. But it came at a fairly steep price.

In Cosart, the Marlins are getting a pitcher who came to Houston in the 2011 Hunter Pence deal and has blossomed somewhat in the last two seasons. The 24-year-old has a 4.41 ERA through 116 1/3 frames with 5.8 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 and a sterling 56.5% groundball rate. That has been good for a 4.02 FIP, 4.28 xFIP, and 4.42 SIERA — hardly ace-level numbers, to be sure, but useful and promising enough given his age. Of course, much of Cosart’s value lies in the fact that he will not even be eligible for arbitration until 2017.

Miami also added some other useful pieces in the trade. Hernandez reached the big leagues this year at just 22 years of age, and owns an impressive .284/.348/.420 slash line through 89 plate appearances. He had slashed .336/.379/.503 in the upper minors, which itself represented a major step up in his results for the youngster. Wates, 25, is something of an on-base machine: he owns a .303/.381/.415 career triple-slash in the minors. Though he does not bring much power to the table, he does have 31 stolen bases this year in his first extended action at Triple-A.

For Houston, the deal brought a variety of goodies in return. Moran was the 6th overall pick in last year’s draft, and numerous reports suggest that he was seriously under consideration with the Astros’ first overall selection. Though he has not exactly dominated at High-A at age 21 (.294/.342/.393), he is not far removed from the amateur ranks and has plenty of time to develop.

Marisnick, meanwhile, is expected to slot right into the club’s lineup. A perennial top-100 prospect who was somewhat blocked in Miami, he has struggled in limited MLB exposure (.183/.231/.248 line in 169 total plate appearances). But the right-handed hitting outfielder, still only 23, has a .277/.326/.434 line in his 377 Triple-A plate appearances.

And then there is the compensation pick, which will come in the first available slot and carries a good bit of value (delivering immense flexibility to a Houston club that will have two high first-round choices next year). The final piece, Martes, is just 18 years old. The Dominican native has worked at the Rookie level this year, tossing 29 innings of 4.97 ERA ball and working both in relief and as a starter.

Brian McTaggart (via Twitter) first reported the deal. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (via Twitter), Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter), and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter) all reported details of the players involved.


Astros Fielding Interest In Cosart, Not Shopping Keuchel

12:03pm: The Marlins and Rangers are two teams that are checking in on Cosart, Rosenthal reports (Twitter links).

9:59am: The Astros are “very busy” taking calls on righty Jarred Cosart, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Houston has taken lefty Dallas Keuchel off the market, however, though it always seemed a longshot for him to be dealt.

Houston has been said to be willing to listen on its young starting pitching, which has featured some better-than-expected performances. Of course, the biggest surprises have comes from Keuchel and Collin McHugh. Unsurprisingly, the Astros appear more hesitant to deal either of those arms.

But Cosart, 24, has turned in a solid season in his own right. He owns a 4.41 ERA through 116 1/3 frames with 5.8 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 and a sterling 56.5% groundball rate. That has been good for a 4.02 FIP, 4.28 xFIP, and 4.42 SIERA — hardly ace-level numbers, to be sure, but useful and promising enough given his age. Of course, much of Cosart’s value lies in the fact that he will not even be eligible for arbitration until 2017.

 


Astros Looking To Move Chris Carter

3:11pm: Though Seattle is in need of offense, the Mariners don’t have interest in Carter, a source tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

3:08pm: The Astros are looking to trade first baseman/DH Chris Carter, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).

The 27-year-old Carter has plenty of power, as evidenced by the 50 homers he’s mashed since Opening Day 2013 (21 this season). However, the righty slugger is hitting just .212 with a .291 OBP despite a .474 slugging percentage that is huge, considering his paltry batting average.

Carter also comes with limited defensive value. He has some experience in left field, but the results haven’t been pretty (-29.6 UZR/150, -7 DRS in 509 innings). He’s also highly strikeout prone, having whiffed in 31.7 percent of his PAs this season and 33.9 percent in his career. Carter will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason and is under team control through 2018.


Astros Open To Trading Keuchel, McHugh, Cosart

TUESDAY, 7:11pm: Houston is reluctant to deal Keuchel, a GM tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle, who discusses the club’s decisions on whether to deal arms that come with future control. The Orioles could be a fit for the emergent southpaw if the Astros are willing to part with him, sources tell Drellich.

1:18pm: The Astros are getting increased calls about their pitchers after yesterday’s comments from Luhnow, reports MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart (on Twitter). The goal remains the same, says McTaggart: MLB-ready offense.

MONDAY, 6:21pm: When asked about prospective deals Houston GM Jeff Luhnow said there’s “nothing that feels close” at this time, tweets Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The GM went on to say (link), “There’s conversations happening and there have been for the past week multiple conversations happening every day.”

5:32pm: The Astros have previously said that they weren’t inclined to move left-hander Dallas Keuchel or right-hander Collin McHugh, both of whom are in the midst of breakout seasons, but Luhnow softened his stance when speaking to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (12:23 timestamp in the update window). The Houston GM tells Rosenthal that the lack of available starting pitching has prompted him to consider dealing Keuchel, McHugh, or right-hander Jarred Cosart:

“We do seem to have an excess of pretty good young starters so we wouldn’t rule anything out. We’d have to get back a big-league piece, preferably a bat, in a package that makes sense for the future and present.”

The 26-year-old Keuchel can be controlled through the 2018 season, while McHugh, 27, and Cosart, 24, are controllable through the 2019 campaign. Keuchel and McHugh, in particular, have had surprisingly strong seasons, with Keuchel posting a 3.11 ERA in 127 1/3 innings, and McHugh notching a 3.45 ERA with 102 strikeouts in 88 2/3 innings (10.4 K/9).

Keuchel was Houston’s seventh-round selection in the 2009 draft, while McHugh was claimed off waivers (Houston had tried to trade for him in 2013), and Cosart was acquired in the Hunter Pence deal back in 2011. None of three are eligible for arbitration after the season. Keuchel will be arb-eligible following the 2015 season, while Cosart and McHugh are eligible following the 2016 season.


Nationals Notes: Astros, Hill, Prado, Iglesias

It’s difficult to tell whether the Nationals could be very busy or stand pat before the trade deadine, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes.  It seems like the Nats are at least exploring a number of options, as Kilgore reports…

  • The Nationals have asked the Astros about available relievers, and Houston had scouts watching the Nats’ Triple-A and Class A affiliates over the weekend.  Left-hander Tony Sipp best fits the Nationals’ needs, Kilgore surmises, since Washington is thin on southpaw relief options.
  • The Nationals haven’t talked to the Diamondbacks about Aaron Hill or Martin Prado.  Either player could fill the hole at second base created by Ryan Zimmerman‘s injury (Anthony Rendon moved to third), or Prado could simply play third and Rendon could return to second.  Kilgore isn’t sure the Nats want to pay Hill the $26MM he’s owed through 2016, however, though Hill loved playing for manager Matt Williams when Williams was a D’Backs coach.  Arizona is reportedly shopping Hill but “barely listening” to inquiries about Prado.
  • With Jose Iglesias possibly on the trade block in Detroit, Kilgore thinks the Nats could be interested given the team’s desire to add a young shortstop as depth if Ian Desmond can’t be extended.  The Tigers had a scout watching the Nationals’ Class A team recently, Kilgore notes, though that isn’t necessarily related to Iglesias.
  • Speaking of scouting assignments, the Rangers had an evaluator watching a recent game between the Nationals’ and Braves’ Triple-A teams.  The two NL East rivals are both known to be looking for relief pitching.
  • Washington had scouts watching two recent Red Sox series, and Kilgore figures that they were checking out relievers Koji Uehara and Andrew Miller.  Earlier today, Peter Gammons reported that the Nats were interested in Miller.