Houston Astros Rumors

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

AL West Notes: White, Hahn, A’s, Paxton, Venable

Astros first base prospect Tyler White is a triumph for the team’s scouting department, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes. White, a 33rd-round selection that signed for $1,000 out of Western Carolina, has soared through the minors and reached Triple-A this year, where he’s hitting .396/.489/.617 with five homers and nearly as many walks (26) as strikeouts (28) in 178 plate appearances. Drellich spoke to Astros scouting director Mike Elias and the team’s director of decision sciences, Sig Mejdal, about the way in which they came to draft White. Drellich also wonders if the Astros, who are struggling with first base production, can afford to keep White in Triple-A. Though he doesn’t need to be added to the 40-man roster to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft, White could potentially boost the production of a team dedicated to winning right now, which may trump traditional roster concerns.

Here’s more from the AL West…

  • Athletics right-hander Jesse Hahn may not pitch again in 2015, manager Bob Melvin suggested to reporters, including John Hickey (Twitter link). Hahn has not yet begun playing catch since being shut down with a flexor tendon injury just over a month ago. Hahn, an offseason trade acquisition, was outstanding for the A’s through 96 2/3 innings this season, posting a 3.35 ERA with a 64-to-25 K/BB ratio. Durability, however, has long been a concern for Hahn, who totaled just 163 1/3 innings in a minor league career that spanned from 2012-14.
  • Billy Beane and his lieutenants have never had fewer than 74 wins in a season, but that number is in danger in 2015, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. A good deal has gone wrong for the A’s in 2015, but perhaps the most troubling fact is that the A’s have only received contributions from four players that are products of their own farm system. Two of those names — Max Muncy and Arnold Leon — have been fringe roster pieces this season.
  • Mariners southpaw James Paxton believes he’s ready to embark on a rehab assignment after throwing a pair of innings in a simulated game on Wednesday, writes Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Paxton said it’s been “a couple of weeks” since he felt pain in the strained tendon in his finger that has sidelined him since May 28.
  • Talks between the Padres and the Rangers on Will Venable came together fairly quickly, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link). Venable passed through waivers, and multiple teams showed interest, but the Rangers jumped into talks on Monday evening and had a deal completed by Tuesday evening.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Hamels, Cain, Girsch, Utley

The Phillies actually preferred the Astros offer for starter Cole Hamels, but the lefty ultimately used his no-trade protection to block the trade, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in his latest video. Included in the rejected deal were outfield prospect Brett Phillips and pitcher Josh Hader, both of whom went to the Brewers in the Carlos Gomez trade. The Astros may have been willing to guarantee Hamels’ fourth year, but he ultimately decided against the option.

  • The Royals will have a tough time re-signing several key players. Lorenzo Cain might be the easiest, but he’ll first want to see how Jason Heyward performs on the free agent market. While Heyward is four years younger than Cain, the average annual value “could be instructive” per Rosenthal. Cain is under control for two more seasons. Meanwhile, Alex Gordon can opt out after this season, and he looks like a lock to do so. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, both clients of Scott Boras, are also under club control for two seasons.
  • Cardinals assistant GM Mike Girsch was a candidate for the Padres GM job opening last year. That posting was eventually filled by A.J. Preller. Girsch may be considered for other top jobs, but the Cardinals hacking scandal may put a damper on his market.
  • Chase Utley will use his no-trade rights to pick his next team. Per Rosenthal, Utley may not make an obvious decision. For example, he may or may not be interested in playing for his home town Giants. As was reported repeatedly over the past few days, Utley will seek to find a home where he’ll continue to play regularly both this season and next.

AL West Notes: Martinez, Wilson, Astros, Davis

The Rangers optioned right-hander Nick Martinez to Triple-A following yesterday’s poor outing versus the Twins, and as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News points out, it looks like the option will be a costly one for Martinez. The 25-year-old has already spent 18 days in the minors this season, and barring a quick recall due to an injury, his collective time at the Triple-A level will likely be large enough to prevent him from accruing a full year of service time, thus delaying his free agency by a season. However, as Grant stresses, this isn’t an instance of a team manipulating service time. Rather, Martinez’s poor outing exhausted the bullpen yesterday and eliminated the possibility of working with a short relief corps for a few days. Martinez’s recent play hasn’t done him any favors, either; he’s pitched to a 6.25 ERA over his previous 11 outings after a brilliant start to the season.

Here’s more from the AL West…

  • There’s been no final decision made on whether or not Angels lefty C.J. Wilson will undergo season-ending surgery, writes MLB.com’s Greg Garno. Wilson had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache recently, and while the meeting revealed nothing new, per manager Mike Scioscia, the decision is solely up to Wilson. “Once he gets all the information, I’m sure we’ll get the results from it and see what C.J.’s decision is,” said Scioscia. The Angels are currently waiting for Wilson to “digest” all of the info and make the call, according to Scioscia. Wilson reportedly has eight bone spurs in his elbow which will need to be surgically removed at some point.
  • The Astros have had a rough stretch of games on the road, but GM Jeff Luhnow tells the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich that he’s confident due to the quality of pitching he’s received as well as the quality of upper-level players who will join the team in September. The Astros currently have a logjam of corner/DH options that will be magnified by the return of George Springer. As Drellich writes, though, it’s difficult to justify the loss of a player like Chris Carter for little to no return (that is, by way of DFA or waiver claim) when expanded rosters are just under two weeks away.
  • Alex Hall of Athletics Nation makes a case for the A’s to cut ties with Ike Davis sooner rather than later. As Hall notes, Davis hasn’t hit since coming off the DL in May, and his $3.8MM salary figures to increase even after a down season simply due to the nature of the arbitration process. Davis only has a year of team control remaining anyhow, so he’s not likely to be a long-term piece in Oakland, and the A’s could do well to replace him with a cheaper set of lottery tickets in 2016 as opposed to paying him north of $4MM. Davis was already acquired for very little last offseason, Hall points out, and a season marred by injury and more poor performance at the plate will sap him of any meaningful trade value this winter. Releasing him now would give Davis a chance to latch on with a contending team that wants to roll the dice on his previous success in the season’s final six weeks, which would be beneficial to both Davis and the A’s, Hall concludes.

NL West Notes: D-Backs, Dahl, Upton, Padres, Dodgers

After suffering a concussion during a simulated game and missing three weeks, 2015 first overall draft pick Dansby Swanson is ready for his first professional game.  MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg reports that Swanson will play tonight for the Diamondbacks‘ Class-A affiliate in Hillsboro.  Here’s some more from around the NL West…

  • The Diamondbacks‘ trades of Oliver Perez and Cliff Pennington both came together rather quickly, GM Dave Stewart told Zach Buchanan of AZCentral.com.  Stewart hadn’t had any talks with the Astros or Blue Jays, respectively, about either player prior to the July 31 trade deadline.  Stewart doesn’t expect to make any more deals in August, though “I didn’t think I was going to make those…. You never know.”
  • Baseball America’s Jack Etkin spoke with Rockies director of player development Zach Wilson about the frightening early-season injury to top outfield prospect David Dahl and the decision Dahl made to have his spleen removed following an outfield collision (subscription required). “The best thing for David’s life was to get that spleen out of there,” said Wilson, who went on to add that the splenectomy has allowed Dahl to play without fear. Dahl, who lacerated his spleen and suffered a concussion in the collision, would have had to play the rest of his career with a protective covering and would have been at risk of rupturing the spleen in the event of another collision. As Etkin notes, that’s a frightening proposition for a “hellbent” player like Dahl, who does not shy away from the outfield wall when roaming the outfield. Dahl is hitting .284/.301/.432 in 86 plate appearances since rejoining the Rockies’ Double-A affiliate.
  • The Padres will take a shot at re-signing Justin Upton this winter, GM A.J. Preller told MLB.com’s Barry Bloom“He’s made a very positive impression here,” said Preller. “We’re going to sit down in the offseason and see what we can do with him.” As Bloom notes, though the Padres haven’t panned out as they’d hoped, the team still has a core in place which can be built upon in future seasons, and improved ticket sales could help boost the team’s payroll heading into a season in which the Padres are set to host the All-Star Game.
  • The Dodgers‘ July pitching acquisitions haven’t worked out whatsoever to this point, writes ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon. Though Luis Avilan has tossed four reasonably effective relief innings, Mat Latos and Alex Wood have both struggled, while Jim Johnson has reverted to his disastrous 2014 form. As Saxon points out, Johnson did have very strong numbers in Atlanta, so it’s tough to fault the team for targeting him. He also points out that Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi must be a fan of Johnson, as he’s now been part of two front offices that have traded for Johnson in two years.

AL West Notes: Luhnow, Peacock, Mariners

Here’s the latest from the AL West…

  • The Astrosacquisition of Oliver Perez may have filled the club’s last remaining need, The Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich reports.  “There’s a lot of activity on the trade waiver wire and we’re monitoring it, but I think we’ve addressed the main areas that we wanted to address going into this trade season,” GM Jeff Luhnow said. “Obviously we’re going to be opportunistic if somebody pops up.”
  • Astros righty Brad Peacock underwent back surgery last week and will officially miss the rest of the season, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.  The procedure involved the removal of two bone spurs that were pinching a nerve near Peacock’s spine, which should hopefully solve the health problems that have plagued Peacock all season.  He made only one start for Houston back in April before a lengthy DL stint with what was thought to be a right intercostal strain.
  • The Mariners‘ problems stem from an inability to develop highly-touted young players, Grantland’s Jonah Keri writes.  This includes both many of their own draft picks as well as prospects acquired in trades, like Justin Smoak or Jesus Montero.  GM Jack Zduriencik had a strong track record of player development as the Brewers’ scouting director, yet his inability to duplicate this success with the M’s may cost him his job in the wake of Seattle’s poor season.
  • CSNBayArea.com’s Joe Stiglich takes a look at some of the Athletics’ top prospects, several of whom were just recently acquired in midseason trades to bolster Oakland’s farm system.

Orioles Acquire Matt Buschmann, Jason Stoffel

Here are today’s minor transactions from around the league…

  • The Orioles have announced the Buschmann trade and, additionally, the team announced the acquisition of right-hander Jason Stoffel from the Astros in exchange for cash considerations. A fourth-round pick by the Giants back in 2009, Stoffel has worked to a 4.91 ERA in 44 relief innings this season at the Triple-A level. The 26-year-old’s overall track record in the minors and at Triple-A is better than that, however, as he owns a career 3.55 ERA with 9.3 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9. Houston acquired Stoffel from the Giants in the 2011 trade that sent Jeff Keppinger to San Francisco. He previously ranked as high as 15th among Giants farmhands, though that was five years ago at this point.

Earlier Updates

  • The Orioles have acquired right-hander Matt Buschmann from the Reds in exchange for cash considerations, reports Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). The 31-year-old is a veteran of 10 minor league seasons and has split the 2015 campaign between the Reds and Rays organizations, pitching to a 4.03 ERA with 7.3 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 in 131 2/3 innings. Buschmann has a 3.79 ERA over his past four minor league seasons and should serve as a depth piece for the O’s.

Quick Hits: Napoli, Perez, Padres, Marlins

The Rangers acquisition of Cole Hamels was sold as a move for the 2016 season. However, the acquisition of Mike Napoli is a declaration that the Rangers want to win this season, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The Rangers have surged since the trade deadline. They’re now 4.5 games back in the AL West and 3.5 games behind the second Wild Card slot. Texas will use Napoli as a platoon bat against left-handed pitching. Despite poor overall numbers, Napoli still has a .229/.345/.500 slash against southpaws this season. The Rangers will cover about $1.5MM of his remaining salary with the Red Sox chipping in with the balance ($3.7MM). He’s a free agent after the season.

  • The Astros will use recently acquired left-handed reliever Oliver Perez in a lefty specialist role, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Perez will serve as a weapon against the tough lefties in the division like Prince Fielder and Robinson Cano. He’ll also free Tony Sipp to return to a full inning role. Houston will have to clear a 25-man roster spot for Perez prior to tomorrow’s game. In my opinion, one of Chad Qualls, Josh Fields, or Will Harris will be the odd man out. All three have pitched well this season.
  • The Padres confused many by standing pat at the trade deadline, but they may be following the same path as the Blue Jays, suggests Grant Brisbee of SB Nation. Per Brisbee, GM A.J. Preller supposedly had a couple deals in place that were scuttled by non-baseball decision makers. Preller drew the most flak for failing to trade Justin Upton – a free agent after the season. Another popular trade candidate, Craig Kimbrel, will at least provide value to future Padres rosters. Returning to the lesson of the Blue Jays, they underwent a similar transformation prior to the 2013 season. When things fell apart that season, they didn’t conduct a Marlins-style fire sale. Instead, they tinkered their way to the current offensive juggernaut. Brisbee suggests that Preller has similar plans for San Diego.
  • The Marlins plan to focus on starting pitching over the offseason, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The club would like to add two starters, although they’ll have to overcome their usual financial constraints. As was reported earlier, manager Dan Jennings is expected to return to the front office over the offseason. A couple old Marlins staffers – Ozzie Guillen and Larry Beinfest – will finally come off the books after this season.

Astros Acquire Oliver Perez

The Astros announced they acquired veteran lefty reliever Oliver Perez from the Diamondbacks for minor league southpaw Junior Garcia.  Houston moved righty Sam Deduno to the 60-day DL to open a spot for Perez, while Arizona announced that it will select the contract of lefty Keith Hessler to take Perez’s place on its active roster.

USATSI_8562304_154513410_lowresPerez, 34 next week, has a 3.10 ERA, 11.5 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.62 HR/9, and 38.9% groundball rate in 29 innings for Arizona this year.  This year he’s faced an even number of lefty and righty hitters and has been more effective against left-handed batters, as you would expect.  Perez joins Tony Sipp as another lefty option out of Houston’s bullpen, which ranks second in the American League with a 2.70 ERA.  The Astros had designated lefty reliever Joe Thatcher for assignment on July 21st, though he remained in the organization on a minor league deal.

Perez spent his first nine seasons in the Majors as a starter for the Padres, Pirates, and Mets before beginning a bit of a career renaissance as a reliever for the Mariners.  He signed a two-year free agent deal with the Diamondbacks in March 2014 and will be a free agent after the season.

Garcia, 19, signed with the Astros out of the Dominican Republic for $200K late in 2012. He mostly pitched in the Gulf Coast League in 2014 and got good results, although he posted a 3.9 BB/9 for the season. He’s improved upon that mark in 2015 while pitching in the Appalachian League and the NY-Penn League, posting an 0.96 ERA, 6.3 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 37 1/3 innings. He’s so far from the Majors, though, that parsing his statistics probably misses the point. He’ll provide the Diamondbacks’ system with a bit of left-handed pitching depth and upside.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor MLB Transactions: 8/7/15

Let’s check in on the day’s minor moves …

  • The Astros have placed righty Roberto Hernandez on release waivers, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets. The veteran intends to seek an opportunity with another big league club, Drellich adds. Hernandez signed a one-year, $2.65MM deal to join Houston over the offseason and contributed 84 2/3 innings of 4.36 ERA pitching before his release.
  • Cubs catcher Taylor Teagarden has accepted an outright assignment with the club, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. The 30-year-old has seen action in each of the last eight big league seasons, though he’s racked up just 563 plate appearances in that span (with a .202/.260/.376 cumulative slash). He put up a strong .826 OPS in his 148 plate appearances at Triple-A earlier this year.

Heyman’s Latest: Padres/Reds, Gausman, Cubs, Rox, Cespedes, Marlins

In his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports provides a laundry list of free agent and trade-related info. He kicks off the piece with a lengthy look at the curiously passive approaches of two teams that were seen as likely to be active sellers: the Reds and Padres. San Diego GM A.J. Preller told Heyman that his team discussed a number of deals and felt that, ultimately, the long-term nature of most of the Padres’ trade chips outweighed the value they were offered. The one notable exception is Justin Upton, who, as first reported by Buster Olney, could’ve fetched Michael Fulmer from the Mets. Regarding Upton talks, Preller told Heyman: “…the evaluation was what we’re being offered versus the value of the pick and having Justin for the rest of the year. There were offers right on the line, but none that made us move.” As for the Reds, Heyman notes that many are questioning the team’s decision to hang onto Aroldis Chapman, who is controlled through 2016, when the Reds may not be competitive until 2017. The Reds backed out of a Jay Bruce-for-Zack Wheeler swap, a source tells Heyman, with a second source telling him that Cincinnati simply “got cold feet” when it came to dealing Bruce. He also spoke to a number of executives who expressed disbelief that neither team was more active at the deadline.

Some more highlights from his column, though there’s far more in the full article than can be summarized here, so it’s worth reading in its entirety…

  • The Diamondbacks are still seeking an elite closer after coming up empty in their pursuit of Aroldis Chapman, and they might pursue him again this winter. Heyman lists their priorities as: a closer, a starting pitcher (someone below the tier of Johnny Cueto/David Price) and a bat to slot behind Paul Goldschmidt in the order. The Snakes talked about deals for Jeremy Hellickson, Oliver Perez and Cliff Pennington. They came the closest to trading Hellickson, who drew interest from the Pirates and Blue Jays, he adds.
  • Kevin Gausman‘s name was very popular in trade talks with the Orioles, as he was asked for by the Rockies (in exchange for Carlos Gonzalez), the Tigers (Yoenis Cespedes) and Padres (Justin Upton). The Orioles also talked to the Dodgers about Carl Crawford (for a lesser package) but found his injury history and contract too risky.
  • Others are “convinced” that the Cubs will land one of the top starting pitchers on the market this winter, with Price as a leading candidate but Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmermann and Cueto all landing on Chicago’s radar as well. The Cubs are expected to shop both Starlin Castro and Javier Baez this winter. The Padres‘ interest in Baez has been reported many places, though they do have some reservations about Baez’s approach at the plate (as, I would imagine, most teams do).
  • The Blue Jays, Astros and Giants all expressed interest in White Sox righty Jeff Samardzija, but the White Sox‘ winning streak plus so-so offers led the team to hold onto the right-hander. Heyman hears that the return would’ve been similar to the one the Reds ultimately got in exchange for Mike Leake, so the Sox simply held onto Samardzija. (Speaking of Leake, he adds that industry consensus pegs Leake as the most likely rental to stay with his new club — perhaps not surprising given Leake’s ties to California and the Giants’ history of retaining such pieces.)
  • The Indians received interest not only in Carlos Carrasco, but also in Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber. The Dodgers, Cubs and Red Sox all tried for Carrasco.
  • The Rockies were always more motivated to trade Troy Tulowitzki than Carlos Gonzalez, as the drama surrounding Tulo had become soap-opera-esque. The team didn’t shop Jose Reyes after the Tulo deal but did have his name come up in talks; Heyman writes that the Yankees are one club that “may have fit,” as they could’ve used him at second base.
  • The Angels made a brief run at Yoenis Cespedes but didn’t come close to landing him. Cespedes won the hearts of Mets fans in part by expressing an interest in signing long-term to remain in Queens, but as Heyman notes, Cespedes did the same in Boston and Detroit without any results. A long-term pact between the Mets and Cespedes is more likely than a reunion with the Tigers though, Heyman writes, as Detroit isn’t likely to enter a bidding war for the outfielder, let alone win one.
  • The Dodgers showed more interest in Cole Hamels than they did in either Price or Cueto. They were completely closed off to the idea of trading either Corey Seager or Julio Urias, though. He adds that right-hander Jose DeLeon wasn’t available in talks for rental pieces, which could imply that he was at least attainable in Hamels talks.
  • Dan Jennings is expected to be welcomed back to the Marlins‘ front office this winter, when the team will search for a long-term manager to replace him. The Marlins are also planning on trying to extend Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria this offseason, he hears. Talks for Hechavarria went nowhere last winter, and the shortstop’s batting line is nearly identical to its 2014 mark. Defensive metrics are far more impressed with Hechavarria’s work this season, though, for what it’s worth.
  • While Rays relief aces Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger were oft-mentioned in rumors leading up to the deadline, other teams came away with the impression that Tampa Bay wasn’t that interested in moving either.
  • There’s an “unhappy scene” surrounding the Nationals and manager Matt Williams, Heyman hears. Williams isn’t beloved by many of the team’s players, who feel that he’s “not loose” and “never relaxed.” There are those who have also questioned his bullpen usage, from the decision not to use Drew Storen/Tyler Clippard in the final game of last year’s NLDS to leaving both Jonathan Papelbon and Storen in the bullpen in close road games versus the Mets shortly after acquiring Papelbon (only to have both pitch with a five-run deficit in the next series). Heyman spoke to one Nats player who said the team is loose and has fun regardless of Williams’ demeanor. “I don’t think it affects us,” said the player. “That’s just how he is.”