Much has been made of the Astros’ pursuit of a rotation upgrade — specifically of the top-of-the-rotation variety — but general manager Jeff Luhnow said today that adding another bat to his lineup is a growing point of focus, tweets MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart.
Recently, when previewing Houston’s trade deadline approach, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle noted that an upgrade at first base was something the Astros were considering, but pitching, at the time, was said to be a priority. Luhnow’s comments, it should be noted, came even before Chris Carter exited tonight’s game with a sprained right ankle (as McTaggart wrote tonight). Carter was able to walk off the field under his own power, and said after the game (also via McTaggart) that while he’s swollen and sore, he hopes to avoid the disabled list. Houston also has Jon Singleton as an option to step in at first base.
Neither Carter nor Singleton has been particularly productive this season, though. Astros first basemen, in fact, collectively batted just .189/.296/.372 in the season’s first half. Both corner infield spots were problematic, as Houston third baseman slashed .208/.289/.418. Luis Valbuena, though, for all of his batting average woes, is showing the best power of his career. And, the Astros also have Jed Lowrie on the mend, who one would think could take some at-bats at the hot corner now that Carlos Correa has cemented himself as the club’s shortstop.
Both center field (.224/.284/.364) and designated hitter (.240/.279/.436) have collectively resulted in below-average production for their positions as well.
It would seem that the Astros are positioning themselves to be one of the most active clubs on this year’s trade market. Luhnow himself has now stated a growing desire to add a bat, a desire to add a front-of-the-rotation starter and an openness to adding bullpen pieces (specifically, a pitcher with well above-average velocity). Luhnow and the Astros are in a new position as buyers on the summer trade market, so this will be the first opportunity we have to see how aggressive an approach the Houston front office will take when it comes to adding big league talent.