Trade Rumors Apps
- Padres, Rays, Nationals Agree To Wil Myers Trade
- Royals To Sign Edinson Volquez
- Indians Sign Gavin Floyd
- Angels, Rays Swap Kevin Jepsen, Matt Joyce
- Marlins To Sign Michael Morse
- Royals To Sign Alex Rios
- Dodgers To Sign Brett Anderson
- Yankees Sign Chase Headley
- Astros Sign Jed Lowrie
- White Sox To Sign Melky Cabrera
- Red Sox Acquire Wade Miley
- Twins Sign Ervin Santana
- Red Sox Sign Justin Masterson
- Marlins Acquire Mat Latos From Reds
- Tigers, Red Sox Swap Porcello For Cespedes
- Non-Tender Tracker
- Non-Tender Candidates
- 2014-15 Top 50 Free Agents With Predictions
- Trade Rumors iOS App
- Trade Rumors Android App
- MLBTR Podcast
- 2014-15 MLB Free Agent Tracker
- 2015 MLB Free Agent List
- 2014-15 Offseason Outlooks
- 2014-15 Free Agent Profiles
- 2015 Arbitration Tracker
- Projected Arbitration Salaries For 2015
- Free Agent Contest Leaderboard
- Reverse Standings
- 2016 MLB Free Agent List
- Transaction Tracker
- DFA Tracker
- Agency Database
- Hot Stove Glossary
- MLBTR On Facebook
- MLBTR On Twitter
- MLBTR Mobile
- MLBTR On Kindle
- Team Twitter/RSS Feeds
- Team Facebook Pages
- Hoops Rumors
- Pro Football Rumors
- $400K NFL Contest At DraftKings
- Quick Hits: Braves, Ross, Cabrera, Kang, Aoki
- Reactions To US Move To Reestablish Relations With Cuba
- Reactions To The Wil Myers Trade
- Minor Moves: Tuiasosopo, Beal, Partch
- Padres To Acquire Matt Kemp
- AL Notes: Hamilton, Cabrera, Toritani
- Athletics Designate Jorge De Leon
- Padres Likely To Keep Trading, Could Deal Seth Smith
- Padres, Rays, Nationals Agree To Deal Centered Around Wil Myers
- Marlins, Braves, Giants Interested In Jake Peavy
- David Hernandez, Diamondbacks Avoid Arbitration
- Royals To Sign Edinson Volquez
- Padres, Rays, Nationals Nearing Agreement On 3-Team Deal
- Blue Jays Sign Ryan Kalish
MLBTR Mailing List
Rumors by team
- Angels Rumors
- Astros Rumors
- Athletics Rumors
- Blue Jays Rumors
- Braves Rumors
- Brewers Rumors
- Cardinals Rumors
- Cubs Rumors
- Diamondbacks Rumors
- Dodgers Rumors
- Giants Rumors
- Indians Rumors
- Mariners Rumors
- Marlins Rumors
- Mets Rumors
- Nationals Rumors
- Orioles Rumors
- Padres Rumors
- Phillies Rumors
- Pirates Rumors
- Rangers Rumors
- Rays Rumors
- Red Sox Rumors
- Reds Rumors
- Rockies Rumors
- Royals Rumors
- Tigers Rumors
- Twins Rumors
- White Sox Rumors
- Yankees Rumors
Jarred Cosart Rumors
The latest salvo in Bryce Harper‘s grievance against the Nationals over his arbitration eligibility was fired yesterday when Harper failed to appear at NatsFest, the team’s annual fan convention. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, including James Wagner of the Washington Post, “We’re disappointed he’s not here, but he chose not to be here because of the grievance.” Harper responded with a statement provided by his representatives and quoted by Wagner, “I have attended NatsFest each year and always enjoy my experience with the fans, but was unable to attend this year’s event due to matters out of my control. I look forward to next year’s NatsFest.” The grievance hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in New York. If Harper wins his grievance, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $2.5MM arbitration award for the outfielder (as opposed to the $1.5MM base his contract stipulates for 2015), which will create a larger platform for future arbitration earnings.
In other news and notes involving the National League:
- Jordan Zimmermann reiterated his desire to sign an extension with the Nationals, but only at the right price, reports CSNWashington.com’s Chase Hughes. “If it’s a fair value, like I have said all along, I would gladly sign,” said Zimmermann. “But at the end of the day, it’s gotta be something that’s fair and if it’s not, then I’ll be moving on.“
- The Marlins are not willing to trade either Henderson Alvarez or Jarred Cosart for a first baseman, tweets Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Jackson also reports the Marlins have had more talks with Michael Morse in recent days and he represents the best realistic option to upgrade the position.
- The Marlins are listening to offers for right-hander Nathan Eovaldi; but, while the Pirates view him as a “terrific young pitcher” and “someone we’ll keep looking at,” club president Frank Coonelly says they are not close to bringing him to Pittsburgh, tweets MLB.com’s Tom Singer.
- In a separate Singer tweet, Coonelly also downplays the return of Edinson Volquez. “Two years for $20MM not far off for Volquez,” Coonelly said. “He could get that. It probably won’t be here.“
- The Cubs have met recently with Colby Rasmus and are one of several teams to show interest in him, reports Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes identified the Cubs as a potential landing spot for Rasmus back in September while the Orioles and Royals have also been linked to the free agent center fielder.
- With the elevation of Jeff Bridich to general manager, Rockies manager Walt Weiss has more independence in running the team with the front office no longer maintaining an offfice in the clubhouse and is more involved in player personnel decisions, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.
The Twins should look to the Cardinals, Braves, and A’s as role models, writes Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com. Like the Twins, those three clubs are middle class franchises, yet they also consistently succeed against the top payrolls in baseball. Mackey highlights a few traits to emulate. Minnesota should seek to supplement their upcoming prospects with affordable trade and free agent acquisitions. They can’t be afraid to trade a player at the height of his value (Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau come to mind). It also wouldn’t hurt to avoid bad contracts and exploit platoon hitters like Trevor Plouffe.
- While Mackey highlights Plouffe as somebody the Twins could platoon, Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune thinks the club should trade him before the waiver deadline later tonight. Plouffe was considered a bridge to top prospect Miguel Sano, who missed this season recovering from Tommy John surgery, but now the club can get similar offense and better utility from Eduardo Escobar. Danny Santana, who Souhan considers the Twins shortstop of the future, could move from center field to shortstop with Escobar shifting from short to third base. Lastly, Aaron Hicks could get another shot at the big leagues before Byron Buxton blocks him.
- Bartolo Colon is still expected to remain with the Mets through the trade deadline, tweets Matt Ehalt of the North Jersey Recorder. As Ehalt notes, things could change between now and the end of the day.
- Jarred Cosart has an “extra chip on his shoulder” following his trade from the Astros to the Marlins, reports Craig Davis of the Sun Sentinel. Cosart has helped to keep the Marlins long shot playoff hopes alive with a 1.64 ERA in five starts. Based on the pitcher’s comments, he was a little irked by the surprise deadline deal. Miami received quite a bit of criticism for the package they sent to Houston (Colin Moran, Jake Marisnick, and a 2015 competitive balance pick), but pundits will sing a different tune if Cosart continues to dominate opponents. Looking at his peripherals, Cosart’s short term success seems to depend on a 1.91 BB/9 that’s roughly half his typical walk rate.
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.
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.
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.
4:30pm: The Astros have issued the following statement regarding the leaked notes:
“Last month, we were made aware that proprietary information held on Astros’ servers and in Astros’ applications had been illegally obtained. Upon learning of the security breach, we immediately notified MLB security who, in turn, notified the FBI. Since that time, we have been working closely with MLB security and the FBI to the determine the party, or parties, responsible. This information was illegally obtained and published, and we intend to prosecute those involved to the fullest extent.
“It is unfortunate and extremely disappointing that an outside source has illegally obtained confidential information. While it does appear that some of the content released was based on trade conversations, a portion of the material was embellished or completely fabricated.”
2:29pm: Extensive trade discussion notes, apparently logged by Astros executives about their talks with other teams, have been leaked onto the site AnonBin here and here, with Deadspin breaking the story and Yahoo’s Jeff Passan verifying the authenticity of the logs. The earliest notes are from June 2013, and the latest are from March of this year. The Astros have yet to comment on the leak, which provides unprecedented detail into how the team values players and approaches trade discussions. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Astros have been reaching out to people around baseball apologizing for the leaks, and plan to issue a statement soon.
A March feature by Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle outlines Ground Control, the Astros’ confidential internal database from which the trade discussion notes were likely taken. At this time, it’s unclear whether the information reached the Internet via a rogue employee of the team, or by some kind of security vulnerability in Ground Control. The trade discussion information, mostly from last summer and offseason, is somewhat dated in the fast-moving baseball hot stove world. The larger ramification is the breach of trust experienced by the many non-Astros executives cited in the notes. It’s unlikely any team would rule out the Astros as a trading partner based on this breach, but some teams could approach talks with added caution. Additionally, I imagine the many other teams with such highly sensitive material online are doubling down on security right now.
The Astros’ trade notes from last summer and offseason range from the blockbuster to the mundane; here are some highlights.
- On November 15th, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow expressed interest with Marlins GM Dan Jennings in slugger Giancarlo Stanton. From the notes: “[Jennings] said he doesn’t think he’ll trade Stanton and the only deal he could think of from us that would work would be [George] Springer and [Carlos] Correa. [Luhnow] said that would not work. [Luhnow] posited a deal around [Jarred] Cosart and [Delino] DeShields.” It’s not a big surprise that Luhnow rejected Jennings’ proposal out of hand, as Correa and Springer were ranked #4 and #19 on Keith Law’s top 100 prospects list for ESPN, and are major building blocks for Houston. That Luhnow didn’t appear to offer either player suggests he was mostly gauging Stanton’s price after an off-year with three years of control remaining. UPDATE: Jennings has commented to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, saying it’s fabricated that they ever offered Stanton to the Astros or any other team, also using the word “laughable.”
- Interest in Astros catcher Jason Castro was strong last offseason, with a few surprising suitors. The Blue Jays and Rangers reached out in mid-October to gauge Castro’s price, the White Sox had “definite high interest,” and Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told Luhnow in November that he was getting calls from other teams asking if he could get Castro from the Astros for those teams. Zduriencik offered Dustin Ackley and was turned down.
- Notes for the Astros’ summer trade discussions begin at June 17th, 2013. The team ultimately went on to acquire Ronald Torreyes from the Cubs in June, and also dealt veterans Jose Veras, Bud Norris, and Justin Maxwell near the July deadline. The Astros did not end up acquiring any top 100-type prospects, but they sure did ask for the moon. For Norris, the Astros sought Kyle Crick and Clayton Blackburn from the Giants, Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman from the Orioles, Marcus Stroman and more from the Blue Jays, Xander Bogaerts, Allen Webster, Jackie Bradley Jr., or Garin Cecchini from the Red Sox, and Tyler Glasnow plus Luis Heredia or Nick Kingham from the Pirates. The Red Sox offered Ryan Lavarnway or Deven Marrero for Norris and were turned down. In the end, the Astros traded Norris and an international draft slot to the Orioles for L.J. Hoes, Josh Hader, and a 2014 competitive balance pick.
- When Nationals GM Mike Rizzo called to express interest in middling Astros starting pitcher Lucas Harrell, who had a 5.17 ERA at the time and nearly as many walks as strikeouts, “[Luhnow] told him we would still need a headliner like [Lucas] Giolito because we still value Harrell highly. Rizzo did not respond immediately.”
Harrell was designated for assignment, outrighted, and traded for a pittance nine months later, so the Astros might have overplayed their hand.
- “Untouchable” players from other teams were revealed through conversations with their executives. White Sox GM Rick Hahn wouldn’t consider trading Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu, or Avisail Garcia. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos considered Brett Lawrie off-limits. Pirates outfield prospect Gregory Polanco came up as well, in that GM Neal Huntington wouldn’t include him in any Norris deal. In December talks regarding Harrell, the Giants said they would not discuss Brandon Belt.
- More random notes: Mets executive Paul DePodesta asked Luhnow if the Astros would consider trading shortstop Jonathan Villar in a Daniel Murphy deal in December…the Marlins expressed interest in Jose Altuve, Matt Dominguez, and others in December.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Bud Norris | Carlos Correa | Chicago White Sox | Daniel Murphy | Delino DeShields Jr. | Deven Marrero | Dustin Ackley | Dylan Bundy | Garin Cecchini | George Springer | Giancarlo Stanton | Houston Astros | Jackie Bradley Jr. | Jarred Cosart | Jason Castro | Jonathan Villar | Jose Altuve | Kevin Gausman | Lucas Giolito | Lucas Harrell | Luis Heredia | Marcus Stroman | Matt Dominguez | Miami Marlins | New York Mets | Nick Kingham | Pittsburgh Pirates | Ryan Lavarnway | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Washington Nationals | Xander Bogaerts
Monday's game between the Astros and the Mariners will feature Jarred Cosart and Taijuan Walker, two top 100 prospects who made their debuts this year, MLB.com's Jason Mastrodonato reports. Before the season, Cosart was ranked the No. 73 prospect in baseball by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo and No. 86 by ESPN's Keith Law. Mayo ranked Walker baseball's No. 4 prospect, and Law had Walker at No. 9. The game will also be Walker's first at Safeco Field, and his last of 2013. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- The Mets could pursue a free agent shortstop in the coming offseason, Andy Martino of New York Daily News writes. Stephen Drew might be a possibility, and Yunel Escobar could be as well if the Rays decline his option, Martino reports. It seems doubtful that Escobar will be on the free agent market, but Drew, who is making $9.5MM this season, might make sense. (Other free agent options include Jhonny Peralta and Clint Barmes; you can find the full list of free agents here.) Martino quotes a team official calling Ruben Tejada a "very disappointing kid," but it's still possible that Tejada could be the Mets' starting shortstop next year as well.
- Padres manager Bud Black says had at least some interest in veteran pitcher Roy Oswalt before Oswalt signed with the Rockies, reports MLB.com's Corey Brock (on Twitter). Oswalt has struggled through four starts for Colorado this season.
- The difference between Xander Bogaerts and Derek Jeter mirrors the differences between the Red Sox and Yankees franchises in general, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Bogaerts, a dynamic young player, allowed the Sox to ship off Jose Iglesias (and three young players) in order to get Jake Peavy. Meanwhile, Jeter is declining and injury-prone. And more broadly, Sherman says, the Sox appear to have a well-stocked roster in place not only for 2013, but also for next year, whereas the Yankees' will feature a number of albatross contracts.
Astros right-hander Jarred Cosart is now represented by Excel Sports Management, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reports (via Twitter). Cosart made his Major League debut in July, making him eligible for salary arbitration following the 2016 season and free agency after the 2019 season.
Cosart, 23, was the Phillies' 38th-round draft choice in 2008 and was sent to the Astros as part of the Hunter Pence trade in July 2011. MLB.com ranked Cosart as the 89th-best prospect in the sport heading into this season and the righty has not disappointed in his first taste of the majors. Cosart has a 1.15 ERA through his first six starts with Houston, though his peripheral stats (3.50 FIP, 4.42 xFIP, 4.95 SIERA, 18 strikeouts and 18 walks) indicate that he's enjoyed a lot of good fortune through his first 39 innings.
Cosart joins an impressive Excel client list that includes the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jason Heyward, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley. If you're looking for information on who represents who in the baseball world, MLBTR's Agency Database has agent listings for nearly 1900 players in the major and minor leagues.
The Astros will promote top prospect Jarred Cosart to start against the Rays on Friday, Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle reports. The righty will replace Lucas Harrell in the Astros' rotation. If Cosart sticks in the big leagues, he'll be eligible for arbitration after the 2016 season, and eligible for free agency after 2019.
Before the season, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com ranked Cosart the No. 73 prospect in baseball, praising his 96-97 MPH velocity. ESPN's Keith Law (Insider-only) ranked Cosart No. 86, noting that he has great stuff and indicating that he could one day be a good closer if he doesn't make it as a starter. Baseball America's Prospect Handbook listed Cosart as the Astros' No. 7 prospect, arguing that improved command of his curveball would help him generate more strikeouts.
Cosart has pitched 93 innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City this season, posting a 3.29 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9. The Astros acquired him from the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade in 2011.
Today is Cinco de Mayo, a celebration of Mexican heritage, pride, and culture. The holiday traces its roots to the Battle of Puebla in 1862 where the undermanned Mexican army defeated the French, regarded as having the world's premier army at the time. More than 100 Mexican nationals have played Major League baseball, including Cardinals' lefty Jaime Garcia and Brewers' righty Marco Estrada. The pair squared off against each other at Miller Park this afternoon in the first-ever matchup between two Mexican-born starting pitchers on Cinco de Mayo and the 37th such meeting overall (per the Brewers via the Elias Sports Bureau). Garcia was masterful scattering eight hits across eight innings in the Cardinals' 10-1 victory. Estrada, meanwhile, channelled the French army allowing eight runs and six hits while issuing a career-high five walks (two with the bases loaded). Adding insult to injury, Chorizo lost the Sausage Race (h/t Adam McCalvy of MLB.com via Twitter). Por otras partes en béisbol:
- Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com believes Angels manager Mike Scioscia needs a fresh start and proposes the Dodgers as the most obvious possibility. Rosenthal notes owner Artie Moreno would recoil at the idea of Scioscia managing the crosstown rivals, but the Angels would be better for it if they could obtain a significant player or two in a John Farrell-style trade.
- Indians outfielder Michael Brantley hasn't heard anything about contract negotiations and that's by design, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes. "Once the season starts, it's time for me to concentrate on baseball," Brantley said. "I don't need distractions like that. If my agents have anything going on, they'll get in touch with me."
- The Astros have dropped Erik Bedard from the starting rotation and need a starter for Friday's game against the Rangers. MLB.com's Brian McTaggart doesn't sense the Astros are in a rush to start the service clock of top prospect Jarred Cosart, who is 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA and 9.5 K/9 in 27 1/3 innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City. Cosart's next scheduled start is tomorrow night.
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum told reporters, including Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald, Carlos Marmol's status remains unchanged a day after he failed to retire any of the three batters he faced (two walks and one HBP). "Obviously he had a bad outing and couldn’t throw strikes," said Sveum. "Like I said he’s one of the seven guys, and he’s got to pitch, and we’ll get him back out there in some fashion. You can’t hide people. They have to pitch." Marmol pitched a perfect sixth inning today.
- Matt Garza will pitch his second minor league rehab start tomorrow for Triple-A Iowa, writes Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. Garza, number seven on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, is scheduled to throw three innings.
The Astros entered 2013 with a shockingly low payroll by today's standards thanks to a number of offseason trades that were intended to boost their farm system. It's nothing new for Houston — a team that hasn't finished above .500 since the 2008 season. General manager Jeff Luhnow and his staff have done a terrific job of amassing young talent to build promise for the future, but the first step may have been taken by Luhnow's predecessor — Ed Wade.
In July 2011, the last-place Astros had a number of desireable pieces on their roster, but perhaps none more appealing than Hunter Pence. The 28-year-old right fielder was hitting .308/.356/.471 with 11 homers when the Astros traded him to the Phillies (along with $2MM) for a package of four prospects: first baseman Jonathan Singleton (19 years old at the time), right-hander Jarred Cosart (21), right-hander Josh Zeid (24) and right fielder Domingo Santana (18).
Let's look at all of the players involved…
The Major League Side
- Hunter Pence: The Phillies acquired a year-and-a-half of Pence's service in the deal. He slid into the Phillies' lineup and immediately provided a boost. Pence had homered 11 times in 100 games for the Astros but matched that total in just 54 games for the Phils. He closed out the season on a torrid pace, hitting .324/.394/.560 in 236 trips to the plate as the Phillies marched to a 102-win season and a first-place finish. Pence's second season with the Phillies didn't go as well; his Musial-esque 159 OPS+ dropped to 108, and he was eventually traded to the Giants for a package of players highlighted by catcher Tommy Joseph (that trade could be a whole new post). All told, the Phillies parted with four prospects and were rewarded with 676 plate appearances worth of .289/.357/.486 production and average right field defense. Fangraphs pegs Pence's value in Phildelphia at 3.6 wins above replacement.
The Minor League Side
- Jonathan Singleton: Singleton has emerged as the best prospect in this deal (Cosart, at the time, was regarded slightly higher). Baseball America ranked him as the game's 39th-best prospect prior to 2011, and he now occupies the No. 27 spot on that list. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo agrees with that ranking and places him first among Astros prospects. BA calls Singleton "the best first base prospect in baseball," noting his plus raw power and ability to hit to all fields. Mayo agrees that he's the best first base prospect in the game, and both think that Singleton could be in the Majors as soon as this season. He hit .284/.396/.497 with 21 homers as a 20-year-old at Double-A last season. Houston fans will have to wait, however, as Singleton is serving a 50-game suspension after testing positive for marijuana.
- Jarred Cosart: Cosart's stock has fallen after a 2012 season that was slowed by recurring blisters on his pitching hand. He still posted a solid 3.30 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 114 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. He's fallen out of BA's Top 100 and ranks as Houston's No. 7 prospect in their eyes, but Mayo is more of a believer; he ranks Cosart No. 89 in the game and No. 4 in the Astros' system. Both feel that Cosart's stock would soar if he could improve his command of a plus curveball with 11-to-5 break, as it would complement what BA refers to an "electric" fastball that sits 96-97 mph. Some feel that Cosart could end up as a closer, but control of his curveball could have him sitting atop Houston's rotation in the near future.
- Domingo Santana: Santana, the youngest player in the trade, was included as a PTBNL and viewed a high-risk prospect. He's emerged as the team's No. 11 prospect per BA and No. 13 prospect per Mayo. BA writes that he has significant raw power and an advanced opposite-field approach to pair with enough athleticism to develop into a regular right fielder if things break right. Mayo concurs with that analysis and notes that he has "an outstanding arm that fits perfectly in right field, along with his offensive profile."
- Josh Zeid: Zeid doesn't rank among the Top 30 prospects in Houston's system per BA or the Top 20 per Mayo, but he ranked as Philadelphia's 23rd prospect at the time of the trade. BA credited Zeid with the best slider in Philly's farm system following the 2010 season, noting that his fastball can reach 97 mph when he's serving in a relief role. That's exactly what he's done since coming to Houston, but he posted an ugly 5.59 ERA in 56 1/3 innings at Double-A last season. However, his 10.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and strong 3.52 FIP suggest that there are better times ahead for the 26-year-old. He's pitching at Triple-A Oklahoma City to open this season.
The Phillies gave up quite a bit of talent in order to land Pence, and the Astros are clearly better off for it. Twenty percent of the players in Houston's Top 15 prospects were acquired via this trade, and while there are question marks surrounding some of them, Singleton's future looks more certain. Philadelphia, meanwhile, received a boost to their lineup that helped cement a division championship. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. was able to flip Pence one year later to recoup some of the prospect value that he gave up in order to land Pence.
The Phillies got precisely what they were hoping for in Pence, but the Astros appear to be better positioned for the long-haul as a result. Scenarios like this are often the case when dealing prospects for short-term help at the Major League level. Had the Phillies won a World Series title in 2011, there wouldn't be much second-guessing the trade. As it stands, Houston picked up enough future upside that they could eventually make Philadelphia fans regret the deal.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.