Jose Altuve Rumors
The Astros have trimmed payroll to unheard of levels for today's game over the past year as they look to rebuild their franchise, but it appears that they're not afraid to spend if it meant keeping Jose Altuve around long-term. General manager Jeff Luhnow told Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle that the team "will consider any opportunity to keep [Altuve] here over the long haul" (Twitter links).
Altuve, 23, has established himself as an asset at second base over the past three seasons. Though he stands just 5'5" and weighs 175 pounds, he's an accomplished hitter. Altuve has a .294/.336/.397 batting line in 1,031 career plate appearances. In 2012, he swiped 33 bases and clubbed seven home runs. His defense graded out poorly according to UZR and The Fielding Bible in 2012, but it's been stellar in this season's small sample according to both metrics.
There's certainly no rush for the Astros, as Altuve still has less than two full years of service time and won't be eligible for arbitration until after the 2014 season. As it stands right now, the Astros control Altuve through the 2017 season, after which he will still be just 27 years old.
A look at MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows that Luhnow hasn't yet completed an extension since taking over as the team's general manager, but Altuve's agents at Octagon are no strangers to such deals. Octagon has negotiated high-profile multiyear contracts for Felix Hernandez, Miguel Montero, Ben Zobrist and Yovani Gallardo, to name a few.
Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow wrote the club's season ticket holders this afternoon to encourage them to stay on board as they look to build for future seasons. Houston is dead last in the standings but Luhnow pointed to the club's commitment to building through the draft, international free agents, and the trade market as evidence of better things to come. More on the Astros..
- While the Astros weren't expecting to contend this year, new owner Jim Crane told the Associated Press that he wasn't expecting the team to be struggling this much. "We made a lot of trades and once we made that decision — Jeff started moving some of the talent — we knew we might slide back a little bit, but we didn’t think it would be this bad," Crane said.
- Prospect Delino DeShields Jr. is on a path to reach the majors in the near future, but Luhnow says that the club isn't yet concerned about what to do with him and All-Star Jose Altuve, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. "If we get to the point we have two guys up here and they're blocked, or one guy here and one guy [at Triple-A], maybe then you make an adjustment. That's how we're going to approach it," the GM explained.
- The Astros' rebuilding project is a gift to the rest of the contending teams that are scheduled to face them in the coming weeks, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Of the seven teams in the hunt for the Wild Card (including the division-leading Reds), five have games remaining against Houston.
- The Pirates have moved Kevin Correia to the bullpen to make room for Wandy Rodriguez in the rotation and Correia isn't thrilled about it, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Angels could be interested in acquiring the California native, who says that he hopes to get back to being a starter.
- As it stands now, Greinke is scheduled to pitch against the Nationals on Sunday, but Nats skipper Davey Johnson doesn't expect to see the right-hander on the hill, writes Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. "I'd be real surprised," Johnson said. "I know in the past if a ballclub's intent on making a move, you're not going to pitch him two days before the deadline."
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com handicaps the most likely destinations for Greinke and the Rangers top the list with 9-5 odds. The Red Sox are categorized as a longshot with 100-1 odds.
- Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter) believes that someone will bite on the Pirates' Kevin Correia as he is owed just $1MM for the rest of the year. The Bucs are reportedly sending signals that they could part with Correia after acquiring Wandy Rodriguez.
- Teams have expressed interest in Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. However, the Brewers would be have to be overwhelmed to trade either player.
- Brewers relievers Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Veras, Manny Parra and Kameron Loe had been drawing interest, but their value “tanked” following a poor showing in Philadelphia this week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow suggested to Rosenthal that absorbing salary can help Houston obtain better prospects in trades. “In this environment, you’re limited in how much money you can spend on the draft, how much you can spend internationally,” Luhnow said, referring to the rules regulating amateur spending in baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement.
- Pitching prospect Shelby Miller is available in trade talks, yet the Cardinals don't appear anxious to make an impact deal, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (on Twitter).
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The market for Zack Greinke appears to consist of the Rangers, Angels, White Sox and Braves, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reports. Rival teams say the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Dodgers aren’t involved on Greinke, and the Indians and Orioles have limited interest in pitchers headed for free agency, Stark writes. Here are more notes from Stark:
- The Yankees are exploring their third base options with Alex Rodriguez out, Stark reports. Marco Scutaro could be an option for New York.
- There’s an expectation that Chase Headley will be traded, but the Padres continue saying they’re happy to keep him, Stark writes. One team says the Padres are looking for a Mat Latos-like return if they trade the third baseman.
- The Phillies are looking for a proven, young setup reliever and a young outfielder or third baseman for Victorino, Stark reports. They’ve asked about relievers Brad Lincoln, Wade Davis and Logan Ondrusek in trade talks.
- It’s already been a busy month for the Astros, but they’re still willing to consider trades for anyone but Jose Altuve.
- The Indians and Cardinals have talked to the Rays about James Shields, Stark reports.
- The Angels are telling teams they’d rather trade Vernon Wells than keep him when he returns from the disabled list. They’re looking for a trade partner and saying they don’t want to eat all of his salary, Stark reports. It’ll be challenging to find a taker for Wells’ salary; he earns $21MM per season through 2014.
- The Indians aren’t likely to deal Chris Perez or Shin-Soo Choo, but they’ll listen on either player.
Here's the latest Full Count video from Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com ...
- Mets third baseman David Wright, a free agent after next season assuming his 2013 option is picked up, will likely seek an eight-year contract extension of $150MM, using the long-term deals of franchise players Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Kemp and Joey Votto as negotiating points.
- With several hard-to-trade veterans on the roster in Wandy Rodriguez, Carlos Lee and Brett Myers, the Astros might be well advised to trade second baseman Jose Altuve as a means to replenish their farm system. Houston has a well-regarded second base prospect in the minors in Jimmy Paredes, who was acquired in the deal that sent Lance Berkman to the Yankees.
- Most teams expect the Cubs to trade Matt Garza, but the North Siders are also considering re-signing the right-hander to a long-term extension. If the Cubs opt to trade Garza, though, they should be able to draw interest from pitching-needy AL East teams, as well as the Tigers.
- The Red Sox are motivated to trade Kevin Youkilis sooner than later, wanting to preclude a distraction and limit the positional shuffling of Adrian Gonzalez, but potential suitors want to see Youkilis remain healthy and productive before buying. The Dodgers are an obvious fit, while the Diamondbacks, who expressed interest last offseason, might not have the financial flexibility to take on the $12MM owed to Youk.