The depth of the Astros’ rotation suffered a blow Friday with the loss of right-hander Corbin Martin, who underwent Tommy John surgery. Not only is the 23-year-old done for 2019, but Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Martin is likely to sit out a “significant portion” of next season (via Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle). Martin’s absence will cost the Astros a hurler they thought would factor into their rotation in 2020, according to Luhnow.
While Luhnow added that the loss of Martin doesn’t affect the Astros’ plans leading up to the July 31 trade deadline, he admitted that “it could make getting a pitcher with an extra year of control more appealing.”
Owing in part to Martin’s injury, the Astros will head into 2020 with some uncertainty in their rotation. Ace Justin Verlander will stick around, Brad Peacock could either continue to start or return to the Astros’ bullpen, and Lance McCullers Jr. should be back from a Tommy John procedure of his own. On the other hand, though, co-ace Gerrit Cole might depart for a mega-deal in free agency, which would be an enormous shot to Houston’s rotation. Southpaw Wade Miley, who’s been an effective starter for the Astros this year, and righty Collin McHugh are also scheduled to reach the open market.
Even after seeing Martin go down, the Astros still have promising young pitchers who could earn spots on their 2020 staff, with Forrest Whitley, Josh James and J.B. Bukauskas among them. But if the AL West leaders want a more established starter to aid in their World Series push this year and take a spot next season, their solution could come via trade this month.
The Astros had already been connected to the Tigers’ Matthew Boyd in the rumor mill prior to the news on Martin. The 28-year-old Boyd’s a breakout left-hander who’s controllable through 2022, which makes him one of the coveted trade candidates available as the 31st nears. Chris McCosky of the Detroit News added more fuel to the fire Friday, tweeting Houston has “been one of the teams scouting Boyd hard.”
Like Boyd, Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman stands out as an obvious trade chip who’d further a team’s cause past this season. The Astros have reportedly had interest in Stroman, who’s under control through 2020, for multiple seasons. In light of Luhnow’s comments, Stroman may be an even more realistic possibility for the Astros.