Houston Astros – MLB Trade Rumors https://www.mlbtraderumors.com Tue, 22 Jan 2019 05:26:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 Astros Had Interest In Martin Perez https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/rosenthals-latest-santana-marlins-happ-gray-reds-perez-boras.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/rosenthals-latest-santana-marlins-happ-gray-reds-perez-boras.html#comments Mon, 21 Jan 2019 05:06:33 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=145369
  • The Astros and Mariners both had interest in left-hander Martin Perez before Perez agreed to join the Twins yesterday.  Perez picked Minnesota since he wanted to be a starting pitcher next season, which likely gave the Twins the edge over the Mets, though the other suitors might have had more room in their rotation.  The Astros are thin on pitching, though since Houston plans to contend next season, it might have been a taller order to assign a starting spot to a pitcher who struggled as Perez did in 2018.  The Mariners have a full rotation plus Justus Sheffield waiting in the wings at Triple-A, though more room could have made for Perez — Felix Hernandez’s health and future as a starting pitcher is questionable, and Mike Leake has been the subject of trade rumors this winter.

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    Players Avoiding Arbitration: American League https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/players-avoiding-arbitration-american-league-2.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/players-avoiding-arbitration-american-league-2.html#comments Sat, 12 Jan 2019 20:19:32 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=143898 The deadline for players and teams to exchange arbitration figures passed at 1pm ET yesterday, meaning over the next few hours, there will be a landslide of settlements on one-year deals to avoid an arbitration hearing. We’ll track today’s minor settlements from the American League in this post. Once all of the day’s settlements have filtered in, I’ll organize them by division to make them a bit easier to parse.

    It’s worth mentioning that the vast majority of teams have adopted a “file and trial” approach to arbitration, meaning that once arbitration figures are exchanged with a player, negotiations on a one-year deal will cease. The two parties may still discuss a multi-year deal after that point, but the majority of players who exchange figures with their team today will head to an arbitration hearing.

    As always, all salary projections referenced within this post are courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, and we’ll also be updating our 2019 Arbitration Tracker throughout the day…

    Today’s Updates

    • Yankees 1B Greg Bird will make $1.2 MM next season, per Bob Nightengale on Twitter.
    • The controversial Roberto Osuna will make $6.5MM next season, per Feinsand. Teammate Jake Marisnick, who again scuffled in ’18 after a promising 2017, will make $2.2125MM.
    • Per Mark Feinsand on Twitter, A’s lefty Sean Manaea $3.15MM in what’s sure to be an injury-marred 2019.
    • Hard-throwing reliever Mychal Givens will make $2.15MM, per Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter), with additional incentives for making the All-Star team or placing in the Top-3 for the Rivera/Hoffman Reliever of the Year Awards, added MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter).
    • The Mariners agreed on a $1.95MM deal with outfielder Domingo Santana, per MLB.com’s Greg Johns (via Twitter). Santana is the second and last of the Mariners’ arbitration-eligible players.
    • The Angels agreed to contracts with a pair of players yesterday, per Maria Torres of the LA Times (via Twitter). Reliever Hansel Robles signed for $1.4MM. Robles threw 36 1/3 innings of 2.97 ERA baseball after the Angels claimed him off waivers from the Mets in June. Luis Garcia, acquired via trade from the Phillies this winter, signed for $1.675MM.
    • The Tigers and reliever Shane Greene settled on $4MM, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (via Twitter).
    • The Yankees reached an agreement with Sonny Gray for $7.5MM, per Nightengale. Gray, of course, has been involved trade rumors most of the winter, but for the time being, he stands to play a role in the Yankee pen while providing insurance for the rotation.
    • Didi Gregorius has also come to an agreement with the Yankees on a one-year, $11.75MM deal in his final season before free agency, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter links).
    • New Yankee James Paxton signed for $8.575, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Paxton is under contract for the 2020 season as well.
    • The Houston Astros came to an agreement with Collin McHugh for $5.8MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). McHugh could be moving back into the rotation after a stellar season in the pen, either way this will be his final season of arb eligibility before hitting the open market.
    • Jonathan Villar comes away with $4.825MM for what will be his first full season in Baltimore, per Nightengale (via Twitter).

    Earlier Updates

    Read more

    Astros File Arbitration Figures For Carlos Correa, Chris Devenski https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/astros-file-arbitration-figures-for-carlos-correa-chris-devenski.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/astros-file-arbitration-figures-for-carlos-correa-chris-devenski.html#comments Sat, 12 Jan 2019 16:05:18 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=144197 The Houston Astros submitted their arbitration bids yesterday after signing fellow arb-eligibles Lance McCullers Jr., Will Harris and Brad Peacock to one-year deals. Houston failed to reach agreements with shortstop Carlos Correa, starter Gerrit Cole and swingman Chris Devenski. All three, at least for the time being, will head towards arbitration hearings to determine their 2019 salaries.

    Correa is coming off a bit of a down year, while injuries have kept him to no more than 110 games in each of the last two seasons. He filed for a $5MM salary for 2019, while the Astros countered at $4.25MM. MLBTR projected a $4.625MM contract for Correa in this, his first year of arbitration. Both sides are surely hoping for a healthy bounceback campaign from Correa, a core piece of their championship winning club of 2017 who struggled to the tune of .239/.323/.405 last season. Of course, most clubs would be pretty thrilled to get a 101 wRC+ from a 23-year-old shortstop.

    Devenski, meanwhile, filed for $1.65MM, with Houston countering at $1.4MM – the same number MLBTR projected for the righty. Devenski has primarily come out of the pen for Houston, pitching to a 2.74 ERA over his three major-league seasons. Last year was the worst campaign of Devenski’s three in the majors, though he was still serviceable in 47 1/3 innings, which included one start (4.18 ERA, 4.49 FIP, 4.01 xFIP). Like Correa, Devenski has two further seasons of arbitration eligibility before hitting free agency after 2021.

    As reported yesterday, Cole filed at $13.5MM, while the Astros countered at $11.425MM. The rather large difference of $2.075MM is understandable given this will be Cole’s last time through arbitration before hitting free agency. He had a stellar 2018 in his first year with the Astros, 15-5 with a 2.88 ERA and 12.4 K/9, a rather ridiculous number across 200 1/3 innings. No doubt it was a tremendous season, good for 5.3 rWAR, a far cry better than the 2.3 rWAR he accrued per season in Pittsburgh, which definitely complicates the valuation process for all parties.

    There is, of course, still time for Houston to forego arbitration with Correa/Cole/Devenski, though the common “file and trial” practice means teams typically stop negotiating one-year deals at this juncture. It is not uncommon for parties to negotiate long-term deals during this period.

    Arbitration figures for Correa and Devenski was first posted by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter links). Cole’s figures were reported yesterday by Fancred’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). 

    Unresolved 2019 Arbitration Cases https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/unresolved-2019-arbtration-cases.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/unresolved-2019-arbtration-cases.html#comments Sat, 12 Jan 2019 15:15:14 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=144177 Yesterday’s arbitration deadline wasn’t a firm date for agreeing to terms. Rather, it was the end of the period to negotiate before submitting numbers for possible hearings. Negotiations can continue thereafter, but teams and players will now have to defend their submission numbers if they can’t bridge the gap before a hearing. Baseball arb panels simply pick one side’s number; that aspect of the process is designed to force the parties to the bargaining table.

    [RELATED: MLBTR Arbitration Projections; MLBTR Arbitration Tracker]

    Here’s what we know thus far about the still-unresolved cases:

    Today’s Updates

    • The Yankees have yet to come to a deal with ace starter Luis Severino, and they may be heading to arbitration. The Yanks have submitted their bid at $4.4MM, while Severino has asked for $5.25MM, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (via Twitter).
    • Tommy Pham and the Rays have submitted their numbers for arbitration, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (via Twitter). Pham filed at $4.1MM while the Rays submitted a bid of $3.5MM. Pham has had no problem expressing his honest opinion about the Rays fanbase of late, and it will be interesting to see if he gets an equal portion of honest feedback in return in his arbitration hearing.
    • The Oakland A’s and their closer Blake Treinen have both submitted their numbers, with the team coming in at $5.6MM while Treinen files for $6.4MM, per Fancred’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). It’s not a shock to see these sides far apart, given Treinen’s remarkable 2018 and how far above his usual standard of production last season’s numbers fell.
    • Washington Nationals filed at $1.725MM for newcomer Kyle Barraclough, who counters at $2MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). The former Marlin was acquired in an uncommonly early offseason trade that sent international bonus pool money the Marlins’ way.
    • The Diamondbacks have only one player they did not reach an agreement with, lefty reliever T.J. McFarland. The Dbacks submitted a bid of $1.275MM, while McFarland is asking for $1.675MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter).
    • Alex Wood submitted $9.65MM for his 2019 salary, while his new club the Cincinnati Reds countered at $8.7MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Wood will be a free agent at season’s end.
    • The Detroit Tigers reached agreements with all of their arbitration eligible players except for right-handed starter Michael Fulmer. Fulmer comes in at $3.4MM with the team countering at $2.8MM, the difference being 600K, per Nightengale (via Twitter).
    • Ryan Tepera has filed for $1.8MM while the Blue Jays submitted their bid at $1.525MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Tepera has been a reliable bullpen arm for the Jays through his first four seasons. He has two more seasons of arbitration remaining, set to reach free agency in advance of the 2022 season.
    • Reserve outfielder Michael A. Taylor and the Washington Nationals are a 250K apart, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Seems like a rather small sum to quibble over in the grand scheme of things, but every cent counts right now in Washington, it seems. Taylor submitted a bid of $3.5MM, with the Nats countering at $3.25MM.

    Earlier Updates

    • Rockies star Nolan Arenado is headed for a record arb salary, unsurprisingly. The question is by how much. He has filed at a whopping $30MM, with the club countering at $24MM, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Even the lower figure would represent a record. It doesn’t seem as if the sides will go to a high-stakes hearing on this one; Jeff Passan of ESPN.com tweets that the odds are good they’ll find common ground. MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz projected Arenado to earn $26.1MM, though he also explained that it’s not hard to see that number swaying in either direction based upon a close examination of the (few relevant) comps.
    • Despite a monster 2018 season, Phillies righty Aaron Nola isn’t seeking to set a record first-year arb starter salary. (That belongs to Dallas Keuchel, at $7.25MM, when he was coming off of a Cy Young season.) Nola did file at a hefty $6.75MM, per Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia (via Twitter), while the club entered just $4.5MM. It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out. The Keuchel salary represented a sea change for young starters, but few others have tested the process since. MLBTR’s projection system spit out a $6.6MM figure for Nola.
    • Righty Gerrit Cole filed at $13.5MM, while the Astros countered at $11.425MM, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred (Twitter link). Teammates Carlos Correa and Chris Devenski have also yet to agree to terms. MLBTR projected Cole to earn $13.1MM in his final arb season, Correa to check in at $5.1MM in his first arb year, and Devenski to take home $1.4MM his first time through the process.
    • Indians righty Trevor Bauer is seeking a $13MM payday, while the club will argue instead for $11MM, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter). The Cleveland org has long utilized a file-and-trial approach on a case-by-case basis. It’s not totally clear whether that’ll be the approach here, but as Hoynes notes, the sides did go to a hearing already last year. (Bauer won.) MLBTR projected a $11.6MM payday; Swartz also explained why he thought the model was likely in the right ballpark for Bauer in a detailed post.
    • Passan provides a list of other players who have yet to agree to terms and who could therefore still end up before a panel. There are fifteen in total, including those already noted above as well as Kyle Barraclough and Michael Taylor (Nationals), Michael Fulmer (Tigers), T.J. McFarland (Diamondbacks), Tommy Pham (Rays), Luis Severino (Yankees), Ryan Tepera (Blue Jays), Blake Treinen (Athletics), and Alex Wood (Reds).
    Alex Bregman Undergoes Arthroscopic Elbow Surgery https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/alex-bregman-elbow-surgery-astros.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/alex-bregman-elbow-surgery-astros.html#comments Fri, 11 Jan 2019 16:05:29 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=144004 The Astros announced Friday that third baseman Alex Bregman underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies from his right elbow earlier today. Bregman is expected to be limited at the start of Spring Training but ready for full duty by Opening Day.

    Bregman, 24, made his first All-Star team in 2018 and finished fifth in American League MVP voting after hitting .286/.394/.532 with 31 home runs in 705 plate appearances for the Astros. The former No. 2 overall draft pick walked more often (96 times) than he struck out (85) — a rare and remarkable feat in today’s game.

    In the event of an unexpected setback in Bregman’s recovery, the Astros do have Tyler White as an option to fill in at the hot corner. The 28-year-old White has more than 2000 innings of minor league experience at third base, so while he’s appeared in just three games there at the MLB level, the ’Stros would presumably feel comfortable playing him there on a short-term basis. First baseman Yuli Gurriel is no stranger to third base, either.

    Still, with Marwin Gonzalez hitting free agency and the recent trade of J.D. Davis to the Mets, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see the Astros add a veteran capable of playing third base on a minor league contract in the coming weeks, just to create a bit of additional depth at the position.

    Marlins Reportedly Engaged In “Substantive” Realmuto Trade Talks https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/marlins-trade-rumors-jt-realmuto-dodgers.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/marlins-trade-rumors-jt-realmuto-dodgers.html#comments Thu, 10 Jan 2019 19:17:13 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=143761 Now that Yasmani Grandal has agreed to terms with the Brewers, the Marlins are ramping up trade talks surrounding J.T. Realmuto and are in “substantive discussions” with six teams, reports Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Frisaro pegs the Dodgers, Braves, Astros, Rays, Padres and Reds as the six teams still in the mix for Realmuto. Frisaro further tweets that the Dodgers “may be [the] most motivated” to land Realmuto of the six current suitors.

    As one would expect, the report indicates that Miami’s asking price remains extremely high — at least one elite prospect and, in some cases, a big league catcher with some MLB experience already under his belt. For the six clubs in question, the Dodgers (Austin Barnes), Astros (Max Stassi), Padres (Austin Hedges) and Rays (Michael Perez) would best fit that billing. The Reds, too, have Tucker Barnhart as a catcher with MLB experience, though he’s signed through 2021 (plus a 2022 option) as part of a $16MM extension. He’s previously been rumored as a potential piece in talks with the Marlins, but while his salary isn’t exactly prohibitive, it’d be more logical to see Miami pursue younger, pre-arbitration options who are not yet eligible for arbitration. None of the aforementioned catchers, of course, would be a centerpiece to the deal but could give the Marlins a near-term replacement while they hope for higher-end talent to emerge from their system.

    When and whether anything more significant comes to fruition remains to be seen, but the timing of the report certainly makes sense. Now that Grandal is no longer an option for teams around the league who are in the market for a catcher, the Marlins can legitimately pitch Realmuto as the primary difference-maker available. As shown in MLBTR’s Free Agent Tracker, light-hitting defensive specialist Martin Maldonado is the top remaining free agent. Pirates backstop Francisco Cervelli is an option on the trade market, but he’s earning north of $11MM next season, would be a one-year rental and has some concerning recent issues with concussions.

    All six of the rumored suitors have deep farm systems that also feature high-end talent, with each of the bunch possessing multiple prospects currently ranked among the game’s 50 best minor leaguers (per both MLB.com and Fangraphs). However, teams throughout the league are increasingly reluctant to part with top-tier minor league talent — particularly when the prospective trade partner is also seeking a controllable MLB-level asset in return, as the Marlins appear to be doing in Realmuto discussions.

    Luhnow On J.D. Davis Trade, Pitching Moves https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/al-notes-astros-kikuchi-orioles-machado.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/al-notes-astros-kikuchi-orioles-machado.html#comments Mon, 07 Jan 2019 04:29:42 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=142849 Astros GM Jeff Luhnow spoke to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter links) and other reporters about today’s five-player trade with the Mets, noting that New York “was aggressive” in asking about J.D. Davis.  The Astros weren’t originally thinking of moving Davis, but Luhnow explained that “there was enough of a market for him that we decided to go ahead and explore it because there’s no obvious spot for him on our 25-man roster next year, at this point.”  The Mets’ inclusion of catching prospect Scott Manea as part of the return going back to Houston “was a big part of it for us,” Luhnow said, due to the Astros’ lack of catching depth.  In terms of future moves, Luhnow also said that the Astros are still considering the starting pitching and bullpen markets.

    Mets Acquire J.D. Davis https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/mets-reportedly-moving-toward-deal-for-astros-j-d-davis.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/mets-reportedly-moving-toward-deal-for-astros-j-d-davis.html#comments Sun, 06 Jan 2019 18:20:06 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=142791 The Mets and Astros have swung a five-player trade centering on corner infielder/outfielder J.D. Davis, according to both teams. New York has acquired Davis and minor league infielder Cody Bohanek in exchange for three minor leaguers – second baseman Luis Santana, outfielder Ross Adolph and catcher Scott Manea.

    A third-round pick of the Astros in 2014, Davis ranked among the team’s top-15 prospects at Baseball America through the 2017 campaign. Davis has shown plenty of promise by raking in the minors, particularly at the Triple-A level, where he debuted in 2017 and has slashed .335/.400/.589 with 22 home runs in 450 plate appearances. He has also picked up experience at all four corner positions at Triple-A, though most of his professional work has come at third base.

    While Davis held his own in Houston’s system, he wasn’t much of a factor in the majors for the club. The right-handed batter performed decently across 68 PAs in 2017, the year the Astros won the World Series, but was ineffective across 113 trips last season. Thus far, Davis is just a .194/.260/.321 hitter with five homers in 181 major league PAs. Thanks in part to Davis’ big league struggles, not to mention the Astros’ collection of talent at the corners, they deemed him expendable.

    In New York, the soon-to-be 26-year-old Davis will provide depth behind third baseman Todd Frazier, whichever first baseman the Mets choose (be it Peter Alonso, Dominic Smith or Jeff McNeil) and corner outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto. With two minor league options remaining, the Mets won’t be under pressure to place Davis on their Opening Day roster. Bohanek, meanwhile, will surely start in the Mets’ minor league system, as the 23-year-old has totaled just 43 PAs above the High-A level since the Astros chose him in the 30th round of the 2017 draft.

    Of the players going to Houston, only Santana, 19, ranked among New York’s top 30 prospects at MLB.com. The 5-foot-8 Santana placed 24th, with the outlet lauding his “very advanced approach at the plate” and his makeup. Santana was dominant last season in rookie ball, where he hit .348/.446/.471 with more walks (27) than strikeouts (23) over 242 PAs. He’s a “shrewd” addition for the Astros, Keith Law of ESPN observes.

    Adolph, 22, joined the Mets in the 12th round of last summer’s draft. He then proceeded to slash .276/.348/.509 with seven homers and 14 steals in 264 PAs at the Low-A level. The 23-year-old Manea had been with the Mets since they grabbed him in the 40th round of the 2014 draft. He hasn’t yet gotten past Single-A, though Astros president Jeff Luhnow said Sunday (via Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle) that the team believes Manea “can move pretty quickly and has a chance to be a big league catcher.”

    Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports first reported the Mets were close to acquiring Davis. Andy Martino of SNY tweeted the Mets would get Davis and that the Astros would receive minor leaguers in the swap. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Dallas Keuchel Turned Down Astros' 5-Year, $90MM Offer Early In 2016 Season https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/rosenthals-latest-bosox-jbj-mets-grandal-d-holland-as-anibal-astros-keuchel.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/rosenthals-latest-bosox-jbj-mets-grandal-d-holland-as-anibal-astros-keuchel.html#comments Sun, 06 Jan 2019 01:37:50 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=142719
  • Southpaw Dallas Keuchel stands as the most decorated starter remaining on the open market, but if the Astros had their way, he wouldn’t be available. The Astros offered Keuchel a five-year, $90MM extension early in the 2016 campaign, but he turned it down, according to Rosenthal. At that point, Keuchel was a 28-year-old coming off an AL Cy Young-winning season. Now 31, Keuchel hasn’t been quite as effective since his career-best campaign, though he remains an above-average starter and should rake in a high-paying multiyear deal before the offseason is out. Having made $22.35MM in salaries since he rejected the Astros’ offer, Keuchel will need to sign for $67.65MM as a free agent in order to match what Houston offered him, Rosenthal notes.

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    Can Tyler White Hold Down The Astros' DH Spot? https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/quick-hits-stark-blue-jays-atkins-astros.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/quick-hits-stark-blue-jays-atkins-astros.html#comments Tue, 01 Jan 2019 21:01:11 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=142065
  • Though the Astros have been linked to several first base/designated hitter types this winter, The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan (subscription required) notes that the team could be in good shape as it stands by having Tyler White get a regular share of DH at-bats.  White posted a .276/.354/.533 slash line over 237 PA last season, and he could join with the Astros’ left-handed outfielders (Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick, or Tony Kemp) in a timeshare at DH to keep everyone fresh.  However, Kaplan also feels Houston will need to move an outfielder before Opening Day to alleviate a playing time crunch, which means that Kemp, Jake Marisnick, or possibly top prospect Kyle Tucker could all be trade candidates.  There were also some rumblings about Josh Reddick on the trade market last month, so it could be that Brantley and George Springer are the only two untouchable outfielders on Houston’s roster.  Kaplan’s mailbag piece is well worth a full read, as it covers several other topics about the Astros’ offseason and potential long-term moves for the club.
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    3 Remaining Needs: AL West https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/3-remaining-needs-al-west-2.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/3-remaining-needs-al-west-2.html#comments Sun, 30 Dec 2018 14:59:14 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=141862 In the latest edition of MLBTR’s “3 Remaining Needs” series, we’ll focus on the American League West, which boasted two playoff teams and an 89-win third-place finisher in 2018. It appears the division will once again feature, at most, three playoff contenders in 2019, as two of its clubs are in rebuilding phases.

    [Previous installments: NL East, NL Central]

    Houston Astros

    • Add at least one more starter. With Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Collin McHugh set to occupy 60 percent of the Astros’ rotation in 2019, they’re obviously in better shape than most teams. Still, it’s clear the Astros are worse off than they were last season, when Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. followed Verlander and Cole to comprise one of the majors’ most formidable rotations. Keuchel is now in free agency, where he may land a richer deal than the Astros are willing to fork over; Morton already left for the Rays on the open market; and McCullers will miss most or all of next season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. That leaves Josh James, who turned heads as a rookie in 2018, and Framber Valdez as the Astros’ projected No. 4 and No. 5 starters going into next season. Down in the minors, the Astros have a super prospect in 6-foot-7 righty Forrest Whitley, a 21-year-old who could debut in 2019, though he has only thrown 41 innings above Single-A thus far. All that said, there’s room for at least one veteran pickup via trade or free agency.
    • Upgrade behind the plate, if possible. As with their rotation, the Astros aren’t in poor shape here. They signed the offensively solid Robinson Chirinos in free agency, and he’s slated to complement defensive wiz Max Stassi in a decent behind-the-plate tandem. Chirinos is a weak defender who’s only under contract for a year, though, while Stassi’s offense plummeted off a cliff after a hot April and May last season. Given the pair’s limitations, it’s possible the Astros will attempt to jettison the out-of-options Stassi in favor of someone better. They’ve continued to show interest in Miami’s J.T. Realmuto, the premier catcher in the game last season, but the Marlins’ asking price has been prohibitive to this point. Free agency also has one terrific option, Yasmani Grandal, whom Houston showed interest in early in the offseason. Things have been quiet since then, though.
    • Pick up a left-handed reliever. In spite of Joe Smith’s ruptured Achilles, Houston’s still stacked with proven right-handed relievers. It’s not as fortunate from the other side, however, as the only southpaw bullpen options on its 40-man roster are Cionel Perez (11 1/3 major league innings) and Reymin Guduan (19 1/3). Maybe one or both of those hard-throwing hurlers will break out next year, but in the meantime, it wouldn’t hurt to have some veteran insurance. The Astros don’t have to break the bank on the top lefty reliever in free agency, Zach Britton, although they have chased him in the past. Rather, they could go for one of the many cheaper veterans available.

    Oakland Athletics

    • Improve the rotation. The Athletics went bargain hunting for starters in 2018, signing Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Edwin Jackson to low-cost deals. Surprisingly, all three moves paid dividends, and each of those veterans helped the injury-depleted A’s amass 97 wins and earn a wild-card berth. Cahill is now with the division-rival Angels, while Anderson and Jackson are free agents, leaving multiple glaring weaknesses in the A’s rotation. The team did re-sign Mike Fiers in free agency, but he’s not the most exciting choice, and the rest of its projected rotation includes pitchers who are either unproven or underwhelming. The A’s could certainly deploy the “opener” on a regular basis next season, as they did to positive results in 2018, yet there would still be space for actual starting additions. In true A’s fashion, they’re probably not going to make a big-money splash in free agency, but there are enough affordable veterans out there who could emerge as the Cahill, Anderson or Jackson of next year’s team.
    • Get another catcher. If you’re an A’s fan, it’s unlikely you’re eager to watch the Chris HerrmannJosh Phegley duo in action. Those two own a combined lifetime wRC+ of 139, and neither have been defensive stalwarts. Oakland’s arguably a fit for Realmuto or Grandal, though there’s no indication the team has pursued either to this point. More realistically, a free agent such as Martin Maldonado could make sense as Jonathan Lucroy’s successor. Maldonado’s not much of a hitter, but as a longtime defensive standout, A’s pitchers would likely benefit from his presence.
    • Find left-handed relief depth. The lone lefty in the A’s bullpen is an excellent one, Ryan Buchter. There are no lefty options to be found after him, though, so the club could stand to buy itself some more aid. As noted above in the Astros section, reasonably priced free-agent possibilities abound.

    Seattle Mariners

    • Keep shedding costly veterans. The Mariners were nearly a 90-win team last season, but their success in the standings didn’t convince general manager Jerry Dipoto that they were true contenders. As a result, Dipoto has undertaken an aggressive “re-imagining” campaign that has seen the Mariners part with Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, James Paxton, Jean Segura, Carlos Santana (acquired for Segura), Mike Zunino, Alex Colome, Juan Nicasio and Ben Gamel in a bevy of trades. There are more trade candidates on hand, too, including just-acquired veterans Edwin Encarnacion, Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak, not to mention holdovers Dee Gordon, Mike Leake and Kyle Seager. Admittedly, it would be a major challenge to move all (or even most) of those players, but at least a couple are real candidates to don different uniforms come 2019. Meanwhile, if it wants to continue upgrading its formerly atrocious farm system, Seattle wouldn’t have any trouble finding takers for the likes of Mitch Haniger, Mallex Smith or Marco Gonzales. It appears they’ll remain in place, however, with Dipoto hoping they’ll be key parts of the next contending Mariners team.
    • Pursue more starters and relievers. With Paxton gone, Leake and Gonzales are the only M’s starters who are good bets to perform respectably in 2019. It’s not a certainty either will be on the team then, though, nor is it clear what the club will get from Felix Hernandez, Wade LeBlanc or prized prospect Justus Sheffield (acquired for Paxton). Because Seattle’s unlikely to contend next season, it’s not going to spring for someone like Keuchel in free agency, but Japanese import Yusei Kikuchi is a worthwhile target. Dipoto has made it known he’s a fan of the 27-year-old Kikuchi, who figures to sign a deal long enough to make him a factor on Seattle’s next good team – if the GM’s plan works, of course. Regardless of whether Kikuchi becomes the latest Japanese star to join the Mariners, it would be wise for them to pursue other vet arms – both starters and relievers. They could search for their next LeBlanc, who was unexpectedly effective in 2018 after signing a cheap, major league deal, and perhaps flip the player(s) at the deadline for more prospects. Safeco Field is a good place for a pitcher to improve his stock, after all.
    • Bolster bench depth. The M’s projected bench for 2019 includes David Freitas, Ryon Healy and Kristopher Negron, with minor leaguers Dan Vogelbach, Joey Curletta, Kaleb Cowart, Dylan Moore, John Andreoli and Braden Bishop also in the 40-man fold. Aside from the mediocre Healy, there’s not an established major leaguer in the bunch. On one hand, there’s an argument Seattle should mostly stick with that group and see if anyone is capable of grabbing a role in the majors. On the other, it wouldn’t hurt to bring in vets on minor league deals or perhaps cheap MLB pacts, potentially giving the M’s more players to flip for youth during the season.

    Los Angeles Angels

    • Continue searching for starters. Having added Cahill and Matt Harvey in free agency, it’s possible the Angels’ heavy lifting is done in their rotation. It probably shouldn’t be, though, as neither of the Angels’ new additions are all that trustworthy. Elsewhere in their rotation, there’s hope for Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs and Jaime Barria, but they also come with question marks. If the Angels are going to make an aggressive push toward contention during Mike Trout’s final two years of control, Keuchel or Kikuchi may give them the front-end starter they don’t seem to have at the moment (the injured Shohei Ohtani excluded). Keuchel would be especially pricey, though, and it’s unknown whether owner Arte Moreno wants to spend much higher than the team’s projected Opening Day payroll of $167MM.
    • Address the bullpen. The Angels are reportedly interested in free agent David Robertson, who’d be a quality pickup for a team in need of shutdown innings late in games. He’s far from the only free-agent reliever capable of boosting the Halos, though. While most of the top free-agent relievers are righties, the team should also have its eye on lefties. After trading Jose Alvarez this month, the sole southpaw reliever on the Angels’ 40-man is Williams Jerez, who struggled mightily across 15 major league innings in 2018.
    • Buy infield insurance. The Angels are golden at shortstop with Andrelton Simmons, but the rest of their infield picture looks somewhat bleak. What if Zack Cozart scuffles again after an injury-shortened 2018? What if David Fletcher doesn’t hit enough to hold down a starting job? What if the newly signed Justin Bour puts up a second straight disappointing offensive season? Those are all valid questions the Halos have to consider, meaning they should be monitoring the market with the fear that their infield plans (Simmons aside) could go awry next season. They’re reportedly interested in free agent Josh Harrison, who’d provide a nice fallback option at both second and third. Fellow free agent Marwin Gonzalez, who can play every infield position and both corner outfield spots, would make even more sense. However, he may be out of the Angels’ price range.

    Texas Rangers

    • Land more pitching. The rebuilding Rangers may trade their top starter, Mike Minor, but even if they keep him, there’s room to add to their rotation. The club already made one noteworthy pickup in Lance Lynn, whom it signed to a three-year, $30MM contract this month. With Lynn in the mix, the Rangers are likely now pushing for Kikuchi, who could slot in near the top of their rotation for several years. Besides Kikuchi, Texas should be focusing on low-cost stopgaps who can eat innings and allow young hurlers such as Jonathan Hernandez, Taylor Hearn, Brock Burke and Joe Palumbo to get more seasoning in the minors. Assuming Minor goes, Lynn would be the Rangers’ only decent bet to handle a heavy workload next season. Edinson Volquez and Drew Smyly may join Lynn in that regard, but it’s hard to be overly optimistic considering the recent arm problems which have stalled their careers. Similarly, despite the presence of lights-out closer Jose Leclerc, bullishness likely isn’t merited with Texas’ bullpen. As a non-contender, the team shouldn’t be splurging on any free-agent relievers, but it’s a logical landing spot for affordable veterans who could potentially become trade candidates during the season. The Rangers have already inked two such arms in Jesse Chavez (two years, $8MM), whom they signed last winter, traded over the summer and brought back this offseason, and Jeanmar Gomez (minor league deal).
    • Consider trading Leclerc and others. Although he enjoyed his best season in 2018, the Rangers just traded 25-year-old infielder Jurickson Profar because they didn’t believe he’d stick around for the long haul. Perhaps we’ll see even more deals along those lines from general manager Jon Daniels prior to next season. The Rangers may not have a more appealing trade chip than the 25-year-old Leclerc, whose value is likely at its zenith. Texas may try to extend Leclerc as a result, but there’s a legitimate case the team should trade him this offseason. The Rangers aren’t ready to win, and a shutdown closer isn’t a must-have piece for a team in that position. Leclerc’s controllable for the next four years, including one more pre-arb campaign, and would probably net a bounty in return. The likes of Minor, Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo and Shin-Soo Choo also shouldn’t be untouchable, though they would bring back more modest packages than Leclerc. The club may simply hold Mazara and Gallo – who are under control for three and four more years, respectively – as opposed to selling low. The two were closer to average than spectacular in 2018, but youth is on the duo’s side (Gallo’s 25, Mazara’s 23), meaning one or both could emerge as long-term core members in Arlington. At 36 and with two years left on his deal, Choo’s time with the Rangers is waning. Choo can still produce offensively, but as an expensive DH/corner outfielder who’s on the wrong end of the aging curve, he’d probably be impossible to trade without taking back another team’s undesirable contract in return. That may not be worth the trouble for the Rangers.
    • Address third base. After the revered Adrian Beltre retired last month, third base temporarily belonged to Profar. Now that Profar’s gone, the Rangers’ No. 1 option at the hot corner looks to be Patrick Wisdom, whom they acquired from the Cardinals during the Winter Meetings. A first-round pick of the Redbirds back in 2012, Wisdom finally debuted in the majors last year and held his own, albeit over just 58 plate appearances. Maybe the 27-year-old will take the opportunity in Texas and run with it, but in the meantime, it appears the club will add a veteran fallback. Harrison and Matt Davidson are among the players who have been connected to the Rangers in the rumor mill.
    Report: Astros, Phillies “Very Interested” In Robbie Ray https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/report-astros-phillies-very-interested-in-robbie-ray.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/report-astros-phillies-very-interested-in-robbie-ray.html#comments Sat, 29 Dec 2018 23:35:54 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=141830 Although Diamondbacks left-hander Robbie Ray reportedly isn’t on the block, he’s nonetheless drawing trade interest, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Both the Astros and Phillies “are very interested” in Ray, Cafardo writes.

    Arizona made one notable future-oriented move earlier this offseason when it traded superstar first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to St. Louis, though indications are the Diamondbacks aren’t set to rebuild. As a result, the club may keep Ray and other valuable veterans with the hope that it’ll bounce back from an 82-win 2018 next season. It’s clear, though, that Ray stands out as one of the D-backs’ most appealing trade chips.

    Just 27 years old, Ray is fresh off his fourth straight productive season in the desert, where he has posted a 3.84 ERA/3.81 FIP with 11.03 K/9, 4.00 BB/9 and a 42.5 percent groundball rate in 587 2/3 innings since 2015. Ray did experience some travails in 2018, an injury-shortened season in which he logged an ugly walk rate (5.09 per nine), a low groundball percentage (39.2) and an unspectacular FIP (4.31) over 123 2/3 frames. At the same time, though, Ray managed a respectable ERA (3.93) and, among hurlers who threw at least 120 innings, finished fifth in K/9 (12.01), 17th in swinging-strike rate (12.9 percent) and 26th in infield fly percentage (11.9).

    Because Ray’s a proven, in-his-prime starter with two years of affordable control remaining – he’ll make a projected $6.1MM in 2019 – it’s likely he has garnered interest from several teams besides Houston and Philadelphia this offseason. Regardless, the fact that those two clubs are eyeing Ray makes sense.

    While the Astros’ starting unit features three established veterans in co-aces Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole and solid mid-rotation arm Collin McHugh, they’ve already said goodbye to Charlie Morton in free agency, and Dallas Keuchel may be next to sign elsewhere. Further, before free agency commenced, the Astros lost Lance McCullers Jr. for 2019 on account of Tommy John surgery. As a result, their rotation has two question marks in it heading into next season, and each of Verlander, Cole and McHugh are slated to hit the open market a year from now. Ray would help cover for their potential 2020 exits to some degree.

    The Phillies’ rotation isn’t facing as much upheaval over the next year as the Astros’, though Philly could cut ties with Jake Arrieta next winter. For now, Arrieta and ace Aaron Nola are entrenched in the Phils’ rotation going into 2019, with Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Zach Eflin and Jerad Eickhoff currently looking like the favorites to battle it out for the remaining three spots. Pivetta, Velasquez and Eflin had difficulty preventing runs in 2018, however, while Eickhoff totaled a mere 5 1/3 innings in the bigs on account of serious injury issues.

    AL Notes/Rumors: Realmuto, Astros, Keuchel, Orioles, A. Jones https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/al-notesrumors-realmuto-astros-keuchel-orioles-a-jones.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/al-notesrumors-realmuto-astros-keuchel-orioles-a-jones.html#comments Sat, 29 Dec 2018 21:00:46 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=141819 The latest from the Junior Circuit . . .

    • The Marlins’ asking price for J.T. Realmuto has put off many a suitor, but the Astros are “still interested,” reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com. Per Morosi, the Fish are still insisting on one of either Forrest Whitley or outfielder Kyle Tucker, each near-consensus top-1o prospects, to headline the deal, so there’s been “no traction” in discussions. To say Whitley, 21, is drawing rave reviews in scouting circles would be to critically undersell the case – the 6’7 Texan is described by some scouts, per Baseball America, as the “best [pitching prospect] they’ve ever seen,” and has done little to discredit that view (aside, perhaps, from a 50-game suspension in early 2018 for a supposed positive banned-stimulant test) in his ascent through the system. Tucker has earned some detractors with his unorthodox swing and supposed nonchalance on the field, but he dominated (.332/.400/.590) the AAA-Pacific Coast League at age 21 and slots even higher than Whitley on some major-publication rankings. GM Jeff Luhnow, in the past, has been reluctant to deal from the cream of his system, though he did splurge in 2015’s deal for Carlos Gomez, departing with top-50 prospect Brett Phillips, top-100 Domingo Santana, and 2018 All-Star Josh Hader in the trade. Still, there is nothing close to precedent in the current Houston regime for a move of this scale.
    • In a video segment for MLB Tonight, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart addressed the likelihood of Houston reuniting with free agent lefty Dallas Keuchel, calling the chances “slim.” Houston, apparently, has balked at the desired length of a proposed deal from Keuchel’s camp, but McTaggart believes the club could circle back if it hasn’t acquired a rotation piece by “late January.” As of yesterday, Keuchel was still believed to be seeking a deal of five years in length, and the many teams interested were far less so when broached with those demands. The Astros, with a righty-heavy, thin-back-end rotation, could certainly use their former ace, but with dual rotation-headliners Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole set to hit free agency after next season, the club may be stashing its funds in preparation.
    • Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports paints a bleak portrait of Adam Jones’ future with the Orioles, noting in a Friday mailbag that Jones’ likely earning power on the market is “more than the Orioles would give him.” Jones, 33, spent 11 seasons with the club, amassing an excellent 29.4 fWAR over the frame. His production – and in particular, his defense – has steadily waned in recent years, cratering with a dismal -18 DRS in center field last season. Jones’ days at the position are likely finished, though he may yet have value to add in a corner spot – the five-time all-star, after all, still projects around league-average next season, per Steamer, and has kept his strikeout rate low in the dawn of the swing-and-miss age.
    Astros Have Shown Interest In Seth Lugo https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/astros-have-shown-interest-in-seth-lugo.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/astros-have-shown-interest-in-seth-lugo.html#comments Sat, 29 Dec 2018 19:17:23 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=141811 Per Marc Carig of The Athletic on Twitter, the Mets and Astros have been “engaged” in recent trade talks, with the ’Stros reportedly “showing interest” in right-hander Seth Lugo.

    Lugo was primarily a starter throughout his minor-league career and into the early stages of his first big league tastes, but shifted mostly to the ’pen last year, to excellent results (3.17 FIP, 9.15 K/9, 2.49 BB/9). Despite his somewhat-advanced age, the 29-year-old Lugo has yet to hit arbitration and is still under team control for another four years, so he does represent an attractive trade chip for a Mets organization still in the midst of a major 25-man overhaul.

    The data-hound Astros, of course, are always on the prowl for the latest edge, and may have found one in recent times with their stockpiling of spin-rate savants, viz. Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and, most recently, mid-season pickup Ryan Pressly, whose 3225 average RPM on the curveball ranked first among all big-league arms in 2018.  Lugo, notably, placed second, with an average curve RPM of 3173, and has long been considered to have one of the game’s fiercest hammers. His fastball, though, has also earned excellent marks, with FanGraphs grading the pitch as easily plus in each of the hurler’s first three big league seasons.

    Following the departure of Charlie Morton to Tampa Bay, and the near-term loss of righty Lance McCullers Jr. to Tommy John, the back end of the Houston rotation looks much thinner than in recent seasons; Collin McHugh will move back from the bullpen, and rookie Josh James looks poised for another spot, but the fifth and final position is, at current, entirely up for grabs, to say nothing of depth-related issues. Houston could look to deploy Lugo as a starter again in 2019, though his career numbers in that role (4.26 xFIP) are vastly inferior to those as a reliever (3.03 FIP, 0.55 HR/9 vs 1.23 HR/9 as a starter).

    The bullpen, however, remains an unquestioned strength – returners Pressly, Hector Rondon, Will Harris, and Roberto Osuna all had excellent years in 2018, and former stalwarts Chris Devenski and Brad Peacock (13.36 K/9 in 63 1/3 IP) struggled only with the longball. Given the glut of right-handed arms, Lugo would seem a luxury here if not for the contract status of the unit’s pillars: each of Harris, Pressly, Peacock, Rondon, and the now-injured Joe Smith are entering their final years of club control, so perhaps the Astros are looking to make a preemptive strike.

    The Mets have certainly solidified the back-end of the bullpen in recent days, what with the trade for Edwin Diaz and the signing of Jeurys Familia, but the rest of the unit seems mostly in shambles: Robert Gsellman, Drew Smith, and Paul Sewald round out the remainder of ’18’s top performers, and none of the trio had a particularly encouraging season. The club could certainly use a defensive-minded type in center field who isn’t a complete zero with the bat, though dealing from its weakest regiment wouldn’t seem to make much sense.

    Carig does take care to note that New York is “doing background work” on the Astros’ minor-league system, and later notes that the talks are “wider-ranging,” so it does seem more pieces are potentially at play.

    Astros Reportedly Interested In Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Martinez https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/tradefa-rumblings-ms-encarnacion-haniger-rays-chisox-astros-rangers-yanks.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/tradefa-rumblings-ms-encarnacion-haniger-rays-chisox-astros-rangers-yanks.html#comments Sat, 29 Dec 2018 04:56:31 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=141754 The Mariners have grown “increasingly confident” they’ll be able to trade designated hitter/first baseman Edwin Encarnacion before their spring training opens, Jon Morosi of MLB.com says (video link). Encarnacion’s market has picked up in the wake of the Twins’ agreement with Nelson Cruz, whose suitors are now turning to the former. The Rays, White Sox and Astros are each “involved” on both Encarnacion and Cardinals first baseman/outfielder Jose Martinez, according to Morosi.