Houston Astros – MLB Trade Rumors https://www.mlbtraderumors.com Thu, 19 Jul 2018 04:00:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 Latest On Manny Machado https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/latest-on-manny-machado-2.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/latest-on-manny-machado-2.html#comments Sun, 15 Jul 2018 00:49:47 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127416 As a whirlwind of rumors continues to surround Manny Machado, suitors for the All-Star seem to fall in and out of the mix by the day, and frontrunners seem to emerge and recede like horses at the racetrack. Last we heard earlier today, the Orioles were beginning to narrow their search, with the Phillies and Brewers among the finalists. But a flurry of whispers have given the situation a slightly different outlook over the past hour. Here’s what we’ve heard…

  • Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the Dodgers remain in the mix for Machado, while the Brewers and Phillies continue to be in “consistent contact” with the Orioles. The Yankees, however, reportedly seem “less involved”. Rosenthal notes that the situation is hardly predictable considering the politics of Baltimore’s front office at present. Last we heard, the Orioles were targeting Dustin May and Gavin Lux in talks with the Dodgers, neither of whom figured to be available.
  • Correspondingly, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports tweets that rival executives believe that the Dodgers will acquire Machado, though the wording of his tweet is somewhat confusing and leaves room for interpretation.
  • In talks with the Phillies, the Orioles showed some interest in recently-promoted starter Enyel De Los Santos, Jon Heyman of Fancred hears. Unsurprisingly, Philadelphia prefers not to include him (probably in part because he’s now contributing in the majors). Heyman quotes Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports as listing Adonis Medina, Jhailyn Ortiz, Ranger Suarez, Arquimedes Gamboa and Franklyn Kilome as other names of interest to the Orioles.
  • In a video for FOX Sports, Rosenthal says the Orioles would prefer to separate Machado and reliever Zach Britton in trade discussions, believing they can maximize their return by moving them in separate deals. That could be in part because the Astros (who are not likely suitors for Machado) have interest in Britton.
Astros Reportedly Have High Opinion Of Raisel Iglesias https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/trade-rumblings-angels-yanks-eovaldi-mets-odorizzi-astros-iglesias.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/trade-rumblings-angels-yanks-eovaldi-mets-odorizzi-astros-iglesias.html#comments Sat, 14 Jul 2018 21:59:35 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127376
  • The belief is that the Astros’ front office has a high opinion of Reds closer Raisel Iglesias, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com relays. That’s hardly a shock, as most who follow the game think highly of Iglesias, but it’s notable considering the Astros are in the market for bullpen help. Iglesias would fit nicely into their relief corps or any other team’s, but the 28-year-old – a careerlong Red – would like to remain in Cincinnati. On the subject of trade rumors, Iglesias said through an interpreter: “I’m not paying attention at all to that. I want to stay here. I don’t want to go anywhere else, but I don’t control that. If I could control it, I would stay here and play here for all of my career.”
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    Astros Again Interested In Zach britton https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/trade-chatter-britton-merrifield-mets-beltre-braves.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/trade-chatter-britton-merrifield-mets-beltre-braves.html#comments Fri, 13 Jul 2018 03:48:32 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127249 Zach Britton’s most recent outing was an encouraging one for scouts, writes Jon Heyman of Fancred in his latest notes column. One scout tells Heyman that the Orioles’ closer was finally beginning to look like himself in a recent save against the Yankees. Heyman notes that Britton was throwing 96-98 mph, although data from both Fangraphs and Brooks Baseball isn’t quite as bullish as that scout’s radar gun was. Certainly, though, Britton’s past few outings have been encouraging. In five scoreless frames, he’s averaged a slightly improved 95 mph on his heater and posted a strong 66.7 percent grounder rate with four strikeouts against one walk. Britton has thrown a first-pitch strike to just 41 percent of the hitters he’s faced in that time, and his ground-ball rate, velocity and swinging-strike rate are all still shy of his peak levels. Nonetheless, he’s certainly trending in the right direction — a welcome sight for the Orioles. Heyman notes that the Astros are believed to once again have interest in Britton after the Orioles backed out of a trade involving him last season, which would’ve sent Colin Moran and a Double-A outfielder to Baltimore.

    Astros Showing Interest In Wilson Ramos https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/astros-showing-interest-in-wilson-ramos.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/astros-showing-interest-in-wilson-ramos.html#comments Thu, 12 Jul 2018 19:20:21 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127221 The Astros have had discussions with the Rays regarding the possibility of acquiring catcher Wilson Ramos, according to a report from MLB.com’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter). No further details surrounding the connection are available at this time.

    Ramos, who’s closing in on his 31st birthday, is earning $10.5MM this year and will return to the open market at season’s end. He’s clearly the best rental catcher that is likely to be made available, though there are certainly some good backstops with lengthier contract rights that might also be targeted by contenders.

    Through 303 plate appearances this season in Tampa Bay, Ramos carries an excellent .291/.340/.479 slash line with 14 home runs. He certainly has his deficiencies on the basepaths. And he surely isn’t among the best-regarded defensive catchers, though he has at times graded quite well as a framer and has been within range of average in most measurable catching skills in recent seasons. (Ramos’s blocking and framing drew lesser marks last year, though perhaps it’s fair to give him a bit of a pass since he was returning from ACL surgery.)

    Evidently, that overall package holds some appeal to the ’Stros, who are looking for ways to improve an already excellent roster. With Brian McCann currently on the DL, the club is utilizing Max Stassi and Tim Federowicz behind the dish, though the expectation surely will be that McCann and Stassi will split the duties once the former is back to health.

    There are some who don’t believe the Astros ought to be considering change at the catching position, at least down the stretch this year. There’s no reason publicly known to think that McCann won’t be able to return after a relatively minor knee surgery, though perhaps there is some concern there. Stassi is in the midst of a breakout effort at the plate in his first extensive action at the major-league level. Of course, he’s also striking out at a 30.5% clip and has not often sustained this kind of output (.253/.339/.468) in the minors. Still, it seems that the Houston organization is at least looking into trying to improve.

    Astros Option Ken Giles To Triple-A https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/astros-option-ken-giles.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/astros-option-ken-giles.html#comments Wed, 11 Jul 2018 20:07:17 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127157 The Astros have optioned righty Ken Giles to Triple-A, per a club announcement. Southpaw Cionel Perez will take his place on the active roster.

    Giles, 27, was originally acquired to be the Astros’ closer in a 2016 blockbuster that sent Vince Velasquez, Mark Appel, Tom Eshelman, Brett Oberholtzer and Harold Arauz to the Phillies. After an up-and-down first season in Houston, Giles looked to be emerging as the dynamic late-inning weapon the ’Stros had hoped to acquire in 2017, tossing 62 2/3 innings of 2.30 ERA ball with 14 strikeouts per nine innings against 3.4 BB/9.

    The postseason, however, proved to be another story, as Giles yielded runs in all but one of his seven playoff appearances and eventually fell behind both Lance McCullers Jr. and Charlie Morton when manager A.J. Hinch was looking for late-inning relief options late in Houston’s eventual World Series run. The inconsistencies have carried over to 2018, as Giles had already largely ceded ninth-inning duties to Hector Rondon and will now carry a 4.99 ERA through 30 2/3 innings with him to Triple-A Fresno.

    To his credit, Giles owns a superlative 31-to-3 K/BB ratio so far in 2018 and has allowed only two home runs on the season. But he’s also seen his hard-contact rate rise by roughly 10 percent and been generally more hittable, averaging 10.6 hits per nine innings pitched against last year’s mark of 6.3. Giles’ .368 BABIP undoubtedly has played a role in those struggles, but a spike in that regard should be expected when surrendering considerably more hard contact to opponents.

    The tipping point for Giles may well have come last night. Given a three-run lead in the ninth inning, Giles allowed three consecutive singles to open the frame before being pulled by manager A.J. Hinch. A frustrated Giles visibly appeared to cuss as he left the mound, potentially at Hinch, though there’s been no confirmation of that. After the game, Hinch told reporters (Twitter link via Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle): “That stuff happens in the heat of battle. I didn’t hear anything. He can let me know if it was directed at me. … If it turns out it was at me, we’ll talk about it.”

    From a service time vantage point, there’s little implication for Giles’ long-term future. He entered the season with three years, 113 days of service time and has already been in the Majors long enough to have surpassed the four-year mark. As such, he’ll still be eligible for arbitration twice more before qualifying as a free agent following the 2020 season, regardless of how long he spends in Triple-A.

    Rosenthal On Astros' Left Field Situation https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/al-west-notes-ms-cano-cruz-as-astros-tucker.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/al-west-notes-ms-cano-cruz-as-astros-tucker.html#comments Sun, 08 Jul 2018 14:21:26 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126887
  • The three weeks leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline will serve as a left field audition for Astros prospect Kyle Tucker, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says. If the just-promoted Tucker doesn’t look ready to contribute on a regular basis, the Astros will “likely” look to acquire a veteran stopgap, according to Rosenthal, who points out that left field has not been an area of strength for their offense this season. Tucker, 21, made his Astros debut Saturday and went 1 for 4 with three strikeouts and a walk.
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    Astros Interested In Jose Abreu https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/cafardos-latest-abreu-astros-ramos-nats-as-treinen-orioles.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/cafardos-latest-abreu-astros-ramos-nats-as-treinen-orioles.html#comments Sat, 07 Jul 2018 22:50:41 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126829 The Astros have shown interest in White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Abreu carries a stronger track record than Houston first baseman Yuli Gurriel and designated hitter Evan Gattis, either of whom could lose playing time to Abreu if the reigning world champs acquire him. However, in 2018, both Gurriel and Gattis have offered superior production to Abreu, a fellow right-handed hitter who has batted a disappointing .260/.316/.451 through 373 plate appearances. The 31-year-old Abreu also carries a high price tag, as he’s on a $13MM salary this season and should land a raise over that figure next winter during his final trip through arbitration. But despite the veteran’s cost and the fact that the White Sox are rebuilding, they have thus far been unwilling to move Abreu, an important mentor to their array of young players.

    Latest On Carlos Correa https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/injury-notes-bryant-correa-dyson-joyce-feliz.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/injury-notes-bryant-correa-dyson-joyce-feliz.html#comments Sat, 07 Jul 2018 21:09:25 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126815
  • Carlos Correa tells MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart (Twitter link) that he is hopeful of getting back to action before the All-Star break, though Correa has yet to begin any baseball activities.  The Astros star’s 10-day DL placement due to lower back soreness was backdated to June 26, so is eligible to return at any point.  Manager A.J. Hinch said that the team was going to be cautious with the young star, so it could be that Correa is held out through the break to make sure he is completely recovered.
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    Astros Promote Kyle Tucker https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/astros-promote-kyle-tucker.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/astros-promote-kyle-tucker.html#comments Sat, 07 Jul 2018 13:33:32 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126765 The Astros have called up top prospect Kyle Tucker, The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan reports (Twitter link).  Jake Marisnick will be sent down to Triple-A in the corresponding move, as per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart (via Twitter).

    Tucker, 21, has been considered one of the game’s better prospects since he was selected fifth overall in the 2015 draft.  Preseason prospect rankings (15th on Baseball America’s list, MLB.com 17th, Baseball Prospectus 20th, ESPN’s Keith Law 21st) tabbed him as being on the verge of Major League readiness, though he hadn’t played in Triple-A prior to this season.  Tucker didn’t miss a beat playing at the top minor league level, batting .306/.371/.520 with 14 home runs over 371 plate appearances for the Fresno Grizzlies, strong statistics even in a hitter-friendly league like the PCL.

    This marks Tucker’s second straight year of solid power numbers, as he made slight adjustments to his approach in order to generate more pop, albeit while striking out more often (he has 70 whiffs this season).  Still, he makes overall very strong contact, and his hand-eye coordination has been widely cited as excellent, which helps him deliver such good results at the plate despite a somewhat unusual swing.

    Beyond the bat, Tucker has also stolen 85 bases in 113 chances over his minor league career, including 14 swipes this year.  Tucker has seen significant time at all three outfield positions, though evaluators believe he is best suited for a corner spot — MLB.com’s scouting report touts Tucker’s “solid arm strength” as a good fit for eventually becoming a right fielder.

    This defensive versatility gives the Astros another valuable piece to work with in their pursuit of another World Series title.  George Springer is the only true everyday outfielder in the Houston lineup, playing either center field or right field, with Josh Reddick, Marwin Gonzalez, Tony Kemp and (before today) Marisnick all getting action in the other two positions based on matchups.  Gonzalez has recently been deploying his superutility skills at shortstop with Carlos Correa on the DL, and thus the Astros may have felt the time was right to add a stronger bat like Tucker into their outfield mix.  Tucker, Reddick, and Kemp are all left-handed hitters, though Kemp has hit well from both sides of the plate this year, so Houston doesn’t necessarily have an unbalanced outfield picture.  The ’Stros also have two more young outfield options in J.D. Davis and Derek Fisher at Triple-A for further depth.

    It’s worth noting that Tucker has been a frequent subject of trade rumors over the last couple of years, with teams like the White Sox, Pirates, and Marlins all showing interest in the outfield prospect.  In regards to the Miami talks, it was reported that Houston was at least open to moving Tucker if it meant getting J.T. Realmuto back in return, though nothing ever came of those negotiations.  There hasn’t been any trade buzz on Tucker in recent months, however, not that Tucker was ever really considered an expendable piece for anything less than a top-tier asset like Realmuto.  It certainly appears as through the Astros consider Tucker to be yet another homegrown building block that can help the big league roster both now and in the future.

    Marisnick’s 2017 season was something of an outlier, as he produced above-average numbers at the plate (117 wRC+ in 259 PA) while underachieving defensively.  The rest of his career has been the exact opposite, as Marisnick has generally been an outstanding defender while not generating much offense at the plate.  This season, for instance, Marisnick has a .190/.235/.359 slash line over 163 PA, while posting a +12.1 UZR/150 and +8 Defensive Runs Saved in 410 2/3 innings as a center fielder.

    Indians Acquire James Hoyt https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/indians-acquire-james-hoyt.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/indians-acquire-james-hoyt.html#comments Fri, 06 Jul 2018 19:06:05 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126707 The Indians announced that they have acquired righty James Hoyt from the Astros. Houston will receive minor-leaguer Tommy DeJuneas in return.

    Hoyt will head to Triple-A on optional assignment. He will occupy the 40-man roster spot that was created when George Kontos was designated for assignment.

    The 31-year-old Hoyt had been a fairly significant part of the Houston pen mix over the past two seasons but has seen just one MLB appearance this year. He has been good at Triple-A this year, turning in 28 innings of 2.25 ERA ball with 10.6 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9.

    Astros Notes: Bullpen, Stassi https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/al-west-notes-astros-stassi-cano-erasmo-mariners-andrus.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/al-west-notes-astros-stassi-cano-erasmo-mariners-andrus.html#comments Wed, 04 Jul 2018 23:31:17 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126565 The Astros are checking around on the bullpen market, though a source tells MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that the team isn’t going to make a move unless a clear upgrade can be found.  “It’s going to be really hard for them to upgrade given that adding someone means pushing a capable — even good — reliever…off the playoff roster.  There’s pressure to do something, but it doesn’t really make sense,” the source said.  Indeed, the argument could more easily be made that Houston is the last team that needs bullpen reinforcements, as Astros relievers collectively rank either first or second amongst all bullpens in ERA, WHIP, HR/9, BB/9, K/9 and hits per nine innings.  Tony Sipp is the bullpen’s only southpaw, though even adding another left-hander isn’t necessary given how well Chris Devenski and Hector Rondon have pitched against left-handed hitters.  If the Astros do add another bullpen arm, Feinsand lists some pitchers controlled for multiple years (Brad Hand, Raisel Iglesias, Blake Treinen, Adam Conley) as possible fits, as well as a rental (Zach Britton) that Houston has pursued in the past.

    • Max Stassi was removed from Tuesday’s game after his right wrist by hit by a pitch, though Astros manager A.J. Hinch told reporters (including MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart) that the catcher should be back in a day or two depending on the status of his wrist contusion.  With Brian McCann out of action due to knee surgery, Houston would be very thin behind the plate if Stassi also missed significant time, as veteran Tim Federowicz is the only other backstop on the 40-man roster.  Hinch described Evan Gattis as “still available as a third catcher” after receiving minimal work at the position this year, though it isn’t clear if Gattis would move into more of a proper backup role if Stassi did require a DL stint.
    Brian McCann To Undergo Knee Surgery https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/astros-to-place-brian-mccann-on-disabled-list-select-tim-federowicz.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/astros-to-place-brian-mccann-on-disabled-list-select-tim-federowicz.html#comments Tue, 03 Jul 2018 19:00:10 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126444 2:00pm: McCann will require surgery on his knee that will sideline him for the next four to six weeks, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (via Twitter).

    It seems doubtful that’ll change the team’s immediate approach all that much, though if Stassi is struggling in a regular role three weeks from now, perhaps the organization would consider some type of addition behind the plate.

    10:39am: The Astros will place Brian McCann back on the 10-day disabled list due to a right knee injury and will select the contract of Tim Federowicz from Triple-A Fresno in his place, as Jake Kaplan of The Athletic tweets. The Astros will also activate Joe Smith from the 10-day DL. Houston’s 40-man roster is currently at 38 players, so they won’t need to make a corresponding move for Federowicz’s addition, though they’ll need to open a 25-man spot for Smith.

    McCann has now been on the DL three times with right knee soreness dating back to August 2017. For a 34-year-old who was long one of the league’s most durable backstops, perhaps that’s not exactly surprising. Still, whether it’s due to his apparently ongoing knee discomfort or simply due to a decline in skills, McCann is currently enduring the worst season of his Major League career. Through 173 plate appearances, he’s batting just .206/.283/.323 with five homers and three doubles. He’s the league’s second-slowest runner as well, per Statcast, topping only Albert Pujols in terms of sprint speed (22.6 feet per second).

    Max Stassi will serve as the primary catcher in place of McCann — and it’s very arguable that despite McCann’s contract, that should be the arrangement through season’s end. The 27-year-old Stassi is hitting .255/.335/.482 with seven homers and 11 doubles through 158 plate appearances so far in 2018, and while he’s been below average in terms of throwing out would-be base thieves (22 percent to McCann’s 33 percent), Stassi rates as the top framing catcher in the league, per Baseball Prospectus. In fact, Stassi leads all big league catchers in BP’s Fielding Runs Above Average metric.

    As for Federowicz, the 30-year-old journeyman will return to the ’Stros for a second time in 2018. He came up earlier this season and went 1-for-7 in a tiny sample of work. Federowicz has turned in a brilliant season in Triple-A so far, hitting .328/.404/.560 through 151 PAs. That’s largely how Federowicz’s career has gone to this point. In parts of eight Triple-A campaigns, he’s mashed at a .306/.376/.508 clip, but he’s managed just a .195/.243/.312 batting line through 325 PAs in the Majors.

    Cafardo: Astros "Looking Hard At" Raisel Iglesias https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/red-sox-notes-iglesias-deadline-lind-chavis.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/red-sox-notes-iglesias-deadline-lind-chavis.html#comments Sat, 30 Jun 2018 23:12:06 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126212 The Red Sox and Astros are among the teams with interest in Reds closer Raisel Iglesias, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Houston, in particular, is “looking hard at Iglesias,” Cafardo writes. The Astros had been eyeing fellow late-game option Kelvin Herrera, per Cafardo, though he’s no longer on the market after the Royals traded him to the Nationals earlier this month. Unlike Herrera, a free agent at season’s end, Iglesias could be a multiyear solution for an acquiring team. The 28-year-old standout is under control through 2020 for affordable salaries ($4.5MM this season, $5MM in each of 2019 and ’20), though he could elect to opt into arbitration over the winter in hopes of securing a raise. Given Iglesias’ track record and remaining team control, the Reds would surely require an impressive haul to consider moving him. It’s worth noting, then, that the Astros have Baseball America’s 10th-best farm system, while the Red Sox’s prospect pool is just 24th.

    What Could Charlie Morton Earn In 2019? https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/heymans-latest-machado-beltre-devers-morton.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/heymans-latest-machado-beltre-devers-morton.html#comments Sat, 30 Jun 2018 19:49:23 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126180
  • It isn’t yet certain if Charlie Morton will pursue another contract or retire after the season, though if he does hit the open market, Heyman speculates that the veteran could earn something between $16MM and $25MM (the average annual values given to Rich Hill and Jake Arrieta the last two offseasons) next season.  Morton turns 35 in November but has been fantastic since joining the Astros, and is currently in the midst of the best season of his 11-year career.  It seems likely that the Astros will extend a qualifying offer to Morton after the season, as Heyman notes, and Morton certainly seems like a good candidate to accept the one-year deal in the $18MM+ range, given his love of playing in Houston.

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    Astros To Promote Cionel Perez https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/astros-to-promote-cionel-perez.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/astros-to-promote-cionel-perez.html#comments Fri, 29 Jun 2018 04:14:51 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126081 The Astros will call up young southpaw Cionel Perez, per Jake Kaplan of The Athletic (via Twitter). He’ll take the open roster spot created when Carlos Correa was placed on the 10-day DL.

    Perez was already on the 40-man roster, as he needed to be protected from the most recent Rule 5 draft. Accordingly, the move is not necessarily a particularly consequential one.

    That said, this will be his first turn at the game’s highest level. And it stands to reason that the ’Stros would not have made the move unless they were interested to see how the highly regarded lefty looks in the MLB bullpen.

    Perez, 22, has been a nice addition to the Houston farm since signing in 2016 out of Cuba — a process that had some twists and turns but left him with a $2MM signing bonus. He entered the current season ranked 6th among the organization’s prospects by MLB.com.

    Questions remain as to Perez’s long-term outlook as a starter. Per MLB.com, he’s still refining his primary three-pitch mix — sinker/slider/change — and faces concerns about his small stature. There’s also the matter of the elbow concerns that gummed up his original deal with Houston.

    That said, Perez has sure looked the part this year. In his 57 1/3 Double-A frames, he carries a 2.20 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. He has compiled that stat line over ten starts and four relief appearances, so clearly the Astros aren’t pushing him too hard. Perez tallied 93 2/3 total innings in 2017, his first professional campaign, so he wasn’t quite set up for a full workload this year.

    All things considered, it’s certainly possible that Houston could look at Perez as a potential multi-inning relief asset. He’d still be able to return to the rotation in the long run. It’s more likely, though, that this call-up will represent only a first taste of the majors. The Astros’ pen has been rather dominant, after all, though it’d be nice to have another option available if any cracks begin to form.

    Astros To Place Carlos Correa On 10-Day DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/astros-to-place-carlos-correa-on-10-day-dl.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/astros-to-place-carlos-correa-on-10-day-dl.html#comments Thu, 28 Jun 2018 22:28:01 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126053 The Astros will place star shortstop Carlos Correa on the 10-day disabled list, manager A.J. Hinch told reporters including MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart (video link on Twitter). The move will formally be made tomorrow.

    Correa has been dealing with lower back soreness for a few days but had hoped to avoid the DL. The 23-year-old last played on June 25th, so the club can backdate the placement to the 26th. It seems the hope is that Correa will be back after missing only the minimum, or close to it.

    Hinch explains that the young slugger is “doing great” in his progress, but says the club did not want to set up a situation that allowed uncertainty as to whether or not he’d be available on any given day. Rather than take any risks, the call was made to take Correa off of the active roster until he is “completely symptom-free.”

    There’s no reason, then, to think that this issue will be much of an impediment for Correa or the ’Stros. There hasn’t been much stopping either to this point of the season, with Correa carrying a 129 wRC+and the ballclub tied for the AL lead with 54 wins.

    Astros Weren't Linked To Kelvin Herrera https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/heymans-latest-os-machado-dodgers-tribe-marlins-herrera-taillon.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/heymans-latest-os-machado-dodgers-tribe-marlins-herrera-taillon.html#comments Sun, 24 Jun 2018 23:37:52 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125775
  • More on Herrera, as Heyman reports that the Astros didn’t make a play for the right-hander.

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    "Decent Likelihood" Astros Promote Kyle Tucker This Season https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/al-notes-beltre-rays-astros-k-tucker-bosox-jdm.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/al-notes-beltre-rays-astros-k-tucker-bosox-jdm.html#comments Sun, 24 Jun 2018 20:26:22 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125745
  • There’s “a decent likelihood” the Astros will promote top outfield prospect Kyle Tucker later this season, president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow told Astros Radio on Sunday (Twitter link via Christian Boutwell of MLB.com). The 21-year-old Tucker, widely regarded as one of the game’s premier prospects, has held his own this season in his first taste of Triple-A action. Tucker has slashed .314/.382/.509 with 10 home runs, 13 stolen bases and solid walk (10.2) and strikeout (19.4) percentages over 324 trips to the plate.
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    2018 Amateur Signings: 6/22/18 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/2018-amateur-signings-62218.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/2018-amateur-signings-62218.html#comments Sat, 23 Jun 2018 05:48:25 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125604 Let’s round up Friday’s draft deals of note. As always, the rankings referenced come courtesy of FangraphsMLB.comBaseball America and ESPN’s Keith Law; Fangraphs and MLB.com scouting reports are available to the public free of charge, while the others require subscriptions.

    • The Pirates have a deal with second-rounder Braxton Ashcraft, MLB.com’s Jim Callis tweets. Aschcraft’s $1,825,000 bonus comes in well over the slot value for the 51st overall selection ($1,382,400). The Baseball America (#58) and MLB.com (#64) analysts were highest on the reputedly athletic hurler, who’s regarded more for his projectability than his present ability on the mound. He’ll forego a commitment to Baylor to join the Bucs, who have inked most of their top picks but are still trying to work things out with sandwich round selection Gunnar Hoglund.
    • Astros second-rounder Jayson Schroeder also lands over slot, Callis tweets. Like Ashcraft, Schroeder is a high-school righty who still needs polish but has shown promising tools. He’ll take home a $1.25MM bonus after being taken 66th overall, a choice that carried a $965,300 allocation. Schroeder had been slated to attend the University of Washington.
    • The Brewers announced their deal with second-round choice Joe Gray, with Callis again tweeting the dollars. Gray lands right at the $1,113,500 allocation for the 60th selection. He’s another toolsy player who’ll forego a collegiate commitment, but in his case he’s an outfielder who has decided against a run at the University of Mississippi. A quality defender with power, Gray is seen as possessing significant upside — if his hitting ability can catch up to his other talents. Notably, the Brewers have yet to ink first-rounder Brice Turang. And amateur scouting director Tod Johnson suggested today that a deal is not inevitable, telling Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Twitter link): “Obviously he and his family have to make a decision as to whether he wants to get on the field and start playing professionally, or go down to LSU and go that route.”
    Trade Candidate: Zach Britton https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/zach-britton-trade-rumors-astros-indians-orioles.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/zach-britton-trade-rumors-astros-indians-orioles.html#comments Fri, 22 Jun 2018 16:49:14 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125545 As the non-waiver trade deadline draws nearer, Zach Britton will be among the most oft-speculated and oft-rumored players to be on the move. It’s difficult to fathom a scenario in which the Orioles don’t trade their longtime closer, given that the alternatives are losing him for nothing or issuing a qualifying offer worth more than $18MM to a player who has currently thrown 41 2/3 innings dating back to Opening Day 2017.

    Zach Britton | Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    It’s that level of uncertainty surrounding Britton, though, that makes his trade candidacy particularly intriguing. It stands to reason, of course, that several teams will be interested in the once-dominant lefty. FanRag’s Jon Heyman reports that the Astros (who nearly acquired Britton last July) and Indians are already in on Britton. It’s reasonable to expect that virtually every team within a stone’s throw of contending will check in on Britton (or already has checked in on Britton) between now and the deadline. But should Britton be considered a premium trade chip?

    Britton is teeming with name value — and with good reason. From 2014-16, he was very arguably the best relief pitcher on the planet. Over that three-year stretch the southpaw posted a 1.38 ERA with 9.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 0.3 HR/9 and a historic 77.9 percent ground-ball rate in 209 innings. He set the all-time record for single-season ground-ball rate in 2015 and then broke his own record a year later when a staggering 80 percent of balls put in play against him were hit on the ground. Britton missed bats and limited walks, and it was virtually impossible to lift the ball against him. He was an absolute buzzsaw in the ninth inning. No relief pitcher in the game topped Britton’s 9.5 RA9-WAR in that time.

    In the time that has followed, however, Britton has seen his 2017 season cut roughly in half by forearm injuries. Then, in the offseason, he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon that required surgical repair and ultimately kept him on the shelf until mid-June. He’s only just now returned, and he’ll have scarcely more than six weeks to show contenders that he’s worthy of being deemed an impact reliever once again. Had Britton been his usual self in 2017, perhaps it’d be worth giving him the benefit of the doubt on the heels of a non-arm injury. But the 2017 version of Britton, in spite of a solid 2.89 ERA, simply didn’t look all that dominant.

    Last year’s 18 percent strikeout rate (7.0 K/9) was Britton’s lowest since moving to the bullpen in 2014. His 11.5 swinging-strike rate was his lowest as a reliever by nearly five percent, and his 31.8 percent chase rate was six percent lower than his 2015-16 peak. Britton still induced grounders at an elite rate (72.6 percent), but not at the historic levels he’d reached in the three preceding seasons. And after walking just 6.9 percent of the hitters he faced from 2014-16, Britton walked 11.2 percent of his opponents last season en route to a 4.34 BB/9 mark. Britton was a good reliever last season, but he wasn’t elite and didn’t perform at a level commensurate with his $11.4MM salary.

    Britton still received a raise to $12MM, though, even after the Orioles knew he’d require surgery to repair his ruptured Achiles, and that salary is all the more problematic now in 2018. Britton is owed about $6.45MM through season’s end, as of today. (It’d be about $3.94MM on the day of the non-waiver trade deadline.) That’s a rather significant sum for a team in the middle of the season — especially with the number of contenders who are either over the luxury tax limit (Nationals, Red Sox) or trying hard to remain slightly south of it (Yankees, Dodgers, Giants).

    So far in 2018, Britton has only faced 17 batters and totaled 4 1/3 innings of work, so it’s hard to glean all that much from his early results. That said, it should be of at least mild concern that his average sinker is down from 96.1 mph in 2017 to 93.7 mph in 2018. He’s allowed just one hit in facing those 17 opponents and picked up five strikeouts, but he’s also walked four of them and thrown a first-pitch strike to just eight of them. That wouldn’t be especially concerning in a vacuum, but given the backdrop of last season’s control issues, it’s hardly promising to see Britton struggling with to locate the ball early out of the gates.

    Clearly, there’s still time for Britton to rebuild his trade value. Even if his velocity doesn’t trend all the way back up, he’d be plenty appealing if he could scale back the walks and continue inducing grounders at an elite level. The O’s could (and should be willing to) increase his trade value by agreeing to pay down some or all of his significant salary, but that hasn’t been the front office/ownership’s M.O. in recent years. (To the contrary, the O’s have parted with Competitive Balance draft picks in order to shed relatively minimal commitments to relievers Ryan Webb and Brian Matusz.)

    Britton’s trade candidacy, perhaps more than any other player who is likely to be moved this summer, is punctuated by “ifs.” If his velocity returns, if his control improves, if last year’s lack of whiffs proves to be a fluke and if the Orioles are willing to absorb some salary, he may very well end up looking like the premium trade chip that many expect him to be based on his name value. Right now, however, Britton looks like a solid but expensive reliever whose on-field results haven’t lined up with that name value in nearly two calendar years.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Crane, Luhnow On New Contract For Astros' President Of Baseball Ops https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/al-west-notes-athletics-ohtani-luhnow-rangers-infield.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/al-west-notes-athletics-ohtani-luhnow-rangers-infield.html#comments Tue, 19 Jun 2018 16:25:42 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125352
  • Astros owner Jim Crane and newly-promoted president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow discussed their plans for the future after announcing a new contract for Luhnow yesterday, as MLB.com’s Christian Boutwell writes. Crane says that Luhnow deserves “a lot of the credit” for the club’s World Series win last year and promising future outlook. It’s the possibility of a sustainable run of success, meanwhile, that has Luhnow excited. “[T]his next phase of keeping this organization at its high level for an extended period of time, that’s what drives me, that challenge,” he said. Despite his new title, Luhnow will continue to function as the general manager and will hang onto that label as well, though he says he’ll be willing to hand it off to someone else if that proves necessary. Luhnow also suggested that there’s a strong commitment to skipper A.J. Hinch, whose contract expires after the current season but seems likely to be extended at some point.
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    Astros Extend Jeff Luhnow Through 2023 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/astros-promote-extend-jeff-luhnow-president-baseball-operations-2023.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/astros-promote-extend-jeff-luhnow-president-baseball-operations-2023.html#comments Mon, 18 Jun 2018 19:38:04 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125299 The Astros announced on Monday that they’ve promoted Jeff Luhnow from general manager to president of baseball operations and signed him to a five-year contract extension that runs through the 2023 season.

    Jeff Luhnow | Bob Levey/Getty Images

    The exact length of Luhnow’s prior contract with the Astros was unclear, though owner Jim Crane plainly stated at today’s press conference that Luhnow is now under contract through the 2023 season. Financial details, of course, were not disclosed, although recent extensions signed by some of the game’s more highly regarded executives reportedly came with annual salaries ranging from a bit north of $5MM (Yankees GM Brian Cashman) to nearly $10MM (Cubs president of baseball ops Theo Epstein).

    Luhnow was a polarizing figure early in his tenure with the Astros, as many raised an eyebrow and criticized from afar as he emphasized the usage of data, analytics and sabermetrics perhaps more than any executive in the game’s history. The Astros received flak not only for their heavy reliance on statistical data (often at the expense of traditional scouting) but also their aggressive utilization of defensive shifts and other, more experimental player development tactics such as tandem/piggyback starters in the minor leagues.

    In the end, it’s hard to question much that the Astros have done during Luhnow’s tenure, though. The Astros are the reigning World Series Champions and have recently snapped off 11 consecutive wins to propel themselves to first place in the American League West. Their .658 winning percentage on the season trails only the Yankees and Red Sox, but the Astros will have ample opportunity to change that; they’ll play their next 19 games against teams with losing records.

    Luhnow’s tenure with the Astros began with some aggressive tanking that saw the team earn the No. 1 selection in three consecutive drafts, though if there’s a notable blemish on his track record, it’s probably that two of those three instances paid little dividends. The Astros couldn’t have done any better in the 2012 draft when they surprised onlookers by selecting high school shortstop Carlos Correa over Stanford ace Mark Appel with the No. 1 pick. But Houston took Appel with the No. 1 overall pick a year later after he didn’t sign, and the team’s selection of Brady Aiken a year later led to a controversial scenario in which neither Aiken nor over-slot fifth-rounder Jacob Nix signed with the organization.

    Of course, the failure to sign Aiken afforded the Astros with the No. 2 pick a year later, which the team used to draft current third baseman Alex Bregman. Bregman was added to a core of homegrown players that also featured Correa, George Springer, Jose Altuve, Lance McCullers and Dallas Keuchel. Luhnow and his lieutenants have also have plenty of successes both on the trade market (e.g. Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Brad Peacock). They’ve prioritized now-popular but once-obscure elements like spin rate when adding names like Collin McHugh (via waivers) and Charlie Morton (free agency), and they struck gold with another waiver claim in Will Harris.

    Exactly how long Houston will retain this core group remains uncertain, of course. Altuve recently signed a massive five-year extension, but key players like Springer and Correa have yet to sign extensions. That pair is nonetheless controllable through the 2021 season, though the rotation figures to take a very different look in the coming years, as Keuchel (this winter), Morton (this winter), Cole (post-2019) and Verlander (post-2019) are all approaching free agency.

    That said, there’s clearly little doubt among ownership that Luhnow and his staff are capable of absorbing whatever losses they’ll inevitably incur and replacing that group with a promising wave of new young talent and free-agent/trade acquisitions. One of the most impressive things about this regime, after all, is that for all of the success they’ve had in recent seasons, the Astros still have a strong farm system. Right-hander Forrest Whitley and outfielder Kyle Tucker lead the way, and both are considered to be among the game’s top 20 prospects. With several impressive prospects rising through the ranks, plenty of financial firepower at their disposal and an enviable core of controllable assets at the MLB level, Luhnow’s Astros have dynasty potential despite the increasingly competitive nature of the American League West.

    Inside The Astros' Free Agent Pursuit Of Yoenis Cespedes https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/mets-notes-cespedes-astros-bruce.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/mets-notes-cespedes-astros-bruce.html#comments Sun, 17 Jun 2018 17:50:12 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125176
  • The Mets faced a tough challenge from the Astros in the race to sign Yoenis Cespedes in the 2016-17 offseason, John Harper of the New York Daily News reports.  The Astros reportedly made Cespedes a similarly-sized offer (four years, $110MM) that the outfielder was “strongly considering,” according to one Mets source.  Another Mets-connected person tells Harper that Cespedes’ “considerations were [to play for a] contender, money, no-trade clause, and [to] train in Florida near his ranch,” and Houston checked off all of those boxes but was unwilling to provide full no-trade protection.  Mets GM Sandy Alderson was also wary about the no-trade clause, yet ultimately agreed to add it to the deal in order to get Cespedes back in the fold.  That “separator” in talks, as another Mets source described it, may have also been necessary to retain Cespedes given his issues with former manager Terry Collins, which Harper relates at length.  It’s safe to assume that the Astros don’t harbor much regret about missing on Cespedes, as they instead spread out their money to acquire multiple players (Josh Reddick, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran) that helped them win the World Series, while Cespedes has been hampered by injuries since re-signing with New York.
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    Cafardo: Astros Interested In Zach Britton https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/cafardos-latest-machado-cubs-astros-britton-as-treinen-hanley-a-gon.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/cafardos-latest-machado-cubs-astros-britton-as-treinen-hanley-a-gon.html#comments Sun, 17 Jun 2018 01:13:46 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125154
  • The Astros are maintaining interest in Orioles reliever Zach Britton, according to Cafardo. Houston agreed to acquire Britton prior to last year’s trade deadline, but the swap fell apart thanks to medical concerns the Orioles had regarding other players in the deal. The Astros went on to win a World Series without Britton, whose value took a hit over the winter when he suffered a ruptured Achilles. The impending free agent just came off the disabled list earlier this week and, with the Orioles well out of contention, is now auditioning for other teams as the July 31 non-waiver deadline nears. With a righty-heavy bullpen, the Astros may make sense for Britton, though southpaw Tony Sipp has enjoyed a bounce-back season and their relief corps has been elite versus left-handed hitters.
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    Astros Sign First-Rounder Seth Beer https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/astros-agree-to-terms-with-first-rounder-seth-beer.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/astros-agree-to-terms-with-first-rounder-seth-beer.html#comments Wed, 13 Jun 2018 22:05:27 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124605 June 13: The Astros have announced the signing. MLB.com’s Jim Callis tweets that Beer receives a $2.25MM signing bonus, which checks in a bit south of the No. 28 slot value of $2.399MM.

    “Seth Beer has been college baseball’s premier slugger for the past three years; his resume speaks for itself,” assistant GM Mike Elias said in a statement announcing the signing. “We feel his productivity will translate well to the professional game and see him as a potential impact bat for our lineup. We are delighted to add Seth to what is already one of baseball’s strongest farm systems.”

    June 9: The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with first-rounder Seth Beer; FOX 26’s Mark Berman tweets that Beer himself has said so. The outfielder was the 28th overall pick in this year’s draft, and adds that he’ll fly to Houston on Tuesday to sign and head off to short-season ball.

    Beer was ranked 45th and 46th among draft prospects by MLB.com and Baseball America, respectively. BA described him as “one of college baseball’s brightest stars”, citing his 70-grade power, exceptional pitch recognition, and .277/.421/.561 batting line this spring. MLB.com, meanwhile, writes that “few college players can match his combination of strength and patience at the plate.” It’s believed that, while it’s no certainty that the slugger’s power will translate at the major league level, it has the potential to be a carrying tool.

    Beer was the consensus Freshman of the Year as a Clemson rookie, when he hit .369/.535/.700 with 18 home runs. His contact has fallen off a bit since then, but the power remained strong throughout his college tenure. Detractors will point to Beer’s speed and poor routes in the outfield as concerns that he won’t stick at the position, along with a swing that can hardly be described as “smooth”. Indeed, it appears that he’s somewhat of a polarizing player among scouts; at points he was mentioned as a potential number one overall pick, while some believed him to be a fringe second-rounder. If he rides to the major leagues, it’ll be on the coattails of his great power/patience potential and even more excellent surname.

    Astros Outright Tim Federowicz https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/minor-mlb-transactions-61018.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/minor-mlb-transactions-61018.html#comments Sun, 10 Jun 2018 23:49:53 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124677
  • The Astros announced that catcher Tim Federowicz has been outrighted to Triple-A after clearing waivers.  Federowicz was designated for assignment two days ago when Brian McCann returned from the disabled list.  After signing a minors deal with Houston in the offseason, Federowicz appeared in two games for the Astros while filling in during McCann’s brief DL stint, and he’ll continue to provide organizational catching depth.
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    Astros Place Joe Smith On DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/west-notes-giants-trout-fister-astros.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/west-notes-giants-trout-fister-astros.html#comments Sun, 10 Jun 2018 16:31:14 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124627
  • The Astros have placed reliever Joe Smith on the DL and recalled lefty Reymin Guduan from Triple-A, Jake Kaplan of The Athletic tweets. Smith’s battling “elbow discomfort,” which obviously isn’t the most reassuring ailment for a pitcher. Like Fister, Smith inked a free-agent contract over the winter and has endured a down season. The recipient of a two-year, $15MM pact, the normally solid Smith has put up a 5.49 ERA in 19 2/3 innings, but he has managed quality strikeout, walk and grounder rates (9.15 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 49.0 GB percentage).
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    Astros Designate Tim Federowicz https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/astros-designate-tim-federowicz.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/astros-designate-tim-federowicz.html#comments Fri, 08 Jun 2018 20:04:01 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124468 The Astros have designated backstop Tim Federowicz for assignment, Jake Kaplan of The Athletic tweets. That move will allow the team to activate fellow receiver Brian McCann from the DL.

    Federowicz did not see much game action during his brief stint in the majors, striding to bat only seven teams. He has seen time in seven MLB seasons, but only once has taken more than 78 plate appearances. Federowicz had been hitting quite well at Triple-A, though, with a .337/.407/.584 slash in his 113 plate appearances.

    Latest On The Astros Bullpen https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/al-west-notes-astros-gossett-kiner-falefa.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/al-west-notes-astros-gossett-kiner-falefa.html#comments Sun, 03 Jun 2018 23:32:58 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124036 There are “two developing holes” on the Astros roster that the team could address at the trade deadline, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in his latest Insider-only column.  One is a big bat capable of filling the left field or DH spots, and the other is a potential closer.  For the former, Houston has a number of internal candidates on hand (Marwin Gonzalez, Evan Gattis, Josh Reddick, Jake Marisnick) who have either struggled or been battling injuries, while youngsters like J.D. Davis, Tony Kemp, or prospect Kyle Tucker represent more options as manager A.J. Hinch juggles his lineup.  Ken Giles has a 4.50 ERA and has allowed a lot of hard contact this season (.368 xwOBA), though he’s also given up just one walk and one homer in 18 innings, against 16 strikeouts.  Given Giles’ struggles last postseason, however, the Astros could very well look at pitchers like Kelvin Herrera or Brad Hand to bolster themselves for some important ninth innings come this October.

    • Sticking with the Astros relief corps, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (video link) believes the team could specifically target a left-hander at the deadline.  While Chris Devenski and Hector Rondon can handle left-handed batters, the only actual southpaw in the Houston pen is Tony Sipp, who has become a spare part rather than a regularly-used arm.  The questions surrounding Giles notwithstanding, Rosenthal thinks adding a lefty might be the only real relief need for Houston, as the Astros have one of the best overall bullpens in the game.
    Kaplan Examines Astros' Revamped Scouting Operation https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/rangers-joey-gallo-center-field-carlos-tocci.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/rangers-joey-gallo-center-field-carlos-tocci.html#comments Fri, 01 Jun 2018 17:30:54 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123780
  • Jake Kaplan of The Athletic takes an interesting look at the Astros’ revamped scouting department in its first full year of deployment (subscription link). The Houston organization took plenty of heat for electing not to renew the contracts of eight pro scouts last season, and Kaplan examines the new operation and chats with GM Jeff Luhnow about the team’s scouting processes. While the Astros still send scouts to watch amateur talent (high school, college, Latin America, etc.), their pro scouting now relies primarily on video and data analysis. As Kaplan notes, they’ll occasionally send scouts to a park to watch a Major League or Minor League player if they feel they need a closer look, but the organization no longer does so with regularity. “It’s allowing us to have what we think is the best balance for us of field scouting versus information scouting,” says Luhnow. “Because we’re capturing a lot of information out in the field from technology, from video, from other things, and we have to spend a tremendous amount of time reviewing that information.”
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    Verlander Hopes To Pitch Until Age 45 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/justin-verlander-pitch-until-45-years-old.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/justin-verlander-pitch-until-45-years-old.html#comments Thu, 31 May 2018 03:02:21 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123682 In a candid interview with MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, Justin Verlander reveals that he thought his career was in jeopardy back in 2014 when he exited a start in Pittsburgh after one inning. His fastball clocked in the mid-80s that day, and as Verlander recalls, he “sat down and lost it” in the tunnel to the visitor’s clubhouse. His arm was in enough pain that an MRI would reveal he required shoulder surgery. Instead, however, Verlander eventually came to realize that failure to fully rehabilitate from offseason hernia/core muscle surgery had lingering effects throughout his body. Now healthy and enjoying the best season of his career, the Astros’ co-ace tells Morosi that he hopes to play for another decade. “In my head, right now, I’m thinking 45,” said Verlander when asked how long he wants to continue pitching. “I don’t know if that’s realistic. I’m going to go as long as I can, until something changes.”

    Astros To Place Brian McCann On DL, Select Tim Federowicz https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/astros-to-place-brian-mccann-on-dl-select-tim-federowicz.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/astros-to-place-brian-mccann-on-dl-select-tim-federowicz.html#comments Tue, 29 May 2018 15:19:49 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123566 The Astros will place catcher Brian McCann on the 10-day DL with knee soreness, Jake Kaplan of The Athletic was among those to report on Twitter. He’ll be replaced on the active roster by fellow backstop Tim Federowicz, whose contract will be selected.

    McCann has dealt with knee issues in the past, which perhaps is not terribly surprising for a 34-year-old who has logged over 1,500 games behind the dish in his MLB career. By the description, it seems this placement is more about dealing with the long-term wear and tear than addressing any particular recent, acute injury.

    Certainly, the numbers suggest it’s time for a respite. While the ’Stros have surged, McCann has fallen off with the bat. He posted a .271/.397/.407 slash in his first 73 plate appearances but is hitting just .164/.207/.291 in his most recent 58 trips to the dish.

    As for Federowicz, he’ll be appearing in his seventh MLB season, though he has only 318 total plate appearances to date at the game’s highest level. He has been doing damage at Triple-A, as is his wont, with a .337/.407/.584 slash in 113 plate appearances this year — boosting his lifetime OPS at the highest level of the minors to a healthy .884 mark.

    Generally, this move helps explain why many see the ’Stros as a plausible suitor for catching help at the trade deadline. McCann, who’s controlled by a club option for 2019, has generally been a solid asset for Houston but likely isn’t suited to heavy usage behind the dish at this stage of his career. Current reserve Max Stassi has impressed to date with a .300/.371/.525 slash on the year, though that has come with 29 strikeouts in 89 plate appearances.

    No Timetable For Josh Reddick's Return https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/injury-notes-donaldson-nats-f-vazquez-reddick-royals.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/injury-notes-donaldson-nats-f-vazquez-reddick-royals.html#comments Mon, 28 May 2018 20:14:55 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123475
  • Astros outfielder Josh Reddick is eligible to come off the DL on Friday, but that’s not going to happen, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com writes. Reddick, who’s battling a skin infection above his left knee, hasn’t resumed baseball activities and may need to embark on a rehab assignment before he returns, according to manager A.J. Hinch.
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    Astros To Place Josh Reddick On DL, Recall Jake Marisnick https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/astros-to-place-josh-reddick-on-dl-recall-jake-marisnick.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/astros-to-place-josh-reddick-on-dl-recall-jake-marisnick.html#comments Wed, 23 May 2018 15:19:51 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123077 The Astros will place outfielder Josh Reddick on the 10-day DL to address a leg infection, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart (via Twitter). Houston will recall fellow outfielder Jake Marisnick to take the open roster spot.

    Reddick last appeared in a game on Sunday, so the placement can be backdated to Monday. He’ll be eligible to return on May 31st, though it’s not yet clear whether he’ll need a lengthier absence. To this point of the season, Reddick has not been as productive as he was in his first year with the ’Stros, but has still produced a quality .227/.331/.409 slash in 154 plate appearances.

    In Reddick’s absence, the Astros will likely rely on a combination of players. The left-handed-hitting Tony Kemp was recalled recently, as was righty-swinging J.D. Davis, who’s a corner infielder by trade but can handle the corner outfield in a pinch. And Marwin Gonzalez remains available to appear just about anywhere on the field.

    Marisnick will join that mix after wrapping up a five-game stint at Triple-A. He had struggled quite a bit in the majors early this year, striking out 41 times in 87 plate appearances. The 27-year-old seemed to shake off the rust at Fresno, where he swatted two home runs and a triple in 23 plate appearances. If he can carry the momentum with him into the majors, perhaps Marisnick will re-claim his roster spot permanently.

    Astros Unlikely To Retain Brian McCann For 2019? https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/al-west-notes-hamels-wood-ohtani-mccann-chapman.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/al-west-notes-hamels-wood-ohtani-mccann-chapman.html#comments Wed, 23 May 2018 00:56:19 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123008 Cole Hamels has a 20-team no-trade clause in his contract, though the veteran southpaw described his no-trade protection as “just kind of a formality” during a wide-ranging chat with NJ Advance Media’s Randy Miller.  Hamels can block deals to every team except the Braves, Mariners, Phillies, Nationals, Rays, Cardinals, Cubs, Royals, and Astros, though it doesn’t sound like he would have any specific objection to being dealt to a contender.  “Really, it’s just kind of like heads up….It just kind of provides a little bit more information, a little bit more bargaining power,” Hamels said.  “That’s kind of really what that entails.  But at the end of the day, situations kind of come up and I think everybody understands what can transpire.”

    • As part of a reader mailbag piece, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart writes that he would “be surprised” if Brian McCann is with the Astros in 2019.  McCann is in the final guarantee year of his contract and the Astros hold a $15MM club option on him for next season.  This option vests into a player option should McCann has 601 PA and at least 90 starts at catcher this season, and doesn’t end the year on the disabled list, though obviously Houston could manage McCann’s workload to ensure he doesn’t hit the vesting threshold.  The hot-hitting Max Stassi has already cut into McCann’s playing time, though McTaggart isn’t sure that Stassi (a longtime prospect) would necessarily be the starting catcher going forward if the Astros parted ways with McCann.  It’s worth noting that the Astros were linked to J.T. Realmuto in trade rumors last winter, and the team has the minor league trade chips to manage such a big acquisition.  McCann, 34, has above-average run creation numbers (111 wRC+) via his .248/.347/.396 slash line in 118 PA this season, though his production over the last five years has generally been closer to league-average.
    Astros Release Jon Singleton https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/astros-release-jon-singleton.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/astros-release-jon-singleton.html#comments Tue, 22 May 2018 00:30:15 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122947 The Astros have released first baseman Jon Singleton, the team announced (h/t Mark Berman of FOX 26, via Twitter). He is currently serving a 100-game suspension for his third positive test for a drug of abuse.

    Singleton had previously been outrighted off of the Houston 40-man roster. Once one of the team’s top prospects, he is best known at this point for failing to pan out in the majors after signing an extension just in advance of his initial elevation to the majors.

    At the time that contract was entered, it drew quite a lot of criticism. Many were concerned that Singleton — at the time, one of several high-end prospects vying to become core members of a pre-breakout Astros team — had given the team too much upside for a $10MM guarantee. But the deal has clearly turned out to the advantage of a player that received a fairly minimal signing bonus as an amateur and has accrued limited MLB time since — a possibility we pointed out in a full analysis at the time.

    Singleton is earning $2MM this year, the final guaranteed season in the contract. He’s still owed $1MM in total buyouts for the next three years, as well. The deal gave the Astros successive options at $2.5MM, $5MM, and $13MM that obviously will not be exercised.

    Singleton’s only lengthy MLB action came in his first season with the ’Stros. He picked up a few more in the 2015 season, but has not been back since. Through 420 plate appearances at the game’s highest level, he carries a meager .171/.290/.331 slash line with 14 home runs and 151 strikeouts against sixty walks.

    Despite his struggles in the majors, Singleton remains an interesting hitter who could get a look elsewhere — at least, that is, if other organizations are willing to deal with his mounting problems with testing positive for drugs of abuse. Though he has always swung and missed a fair bit, Singleton has solid power and a phenomenal eye. Last year, for instance, he popped 18 home runs and drew 107 walks in his 500 Double-A plate appearances.

    Astros Place Derek Fisher On DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/al-injury-notes-a-garcia-k-davis-bird-astros.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/al-injury-notes-a-garcia-k-davis-bird-astros.html#comments Sun, 20 May 2018 19:54:18 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122837
  • The Astros have placed outfielder Derek Fisher on the DL (retroactive to Saturday) and recalled corner infielder/outfielder J.D. Davis from Triple-A, per reports from Mark Berman of FOX 26 and Jake Kaplan of The Athletic. Fisher, who has hit just .176/.222/.419 in 81 PAs, is dealing with gastrointestinal discomfort. Like Fisher, Davis hasn’t been great at the big league level this year (250/.357/.250 in 28 PAs). However, the 25-year-old laid waste to the Triple-A Pacific Coast League prior to Sunday’s call-up, slashing .415/.473/.654 in 146 tries.
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    Astros Option Jake Marisnick https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/astros-option-jake-marisnick.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/astros-option-jake-marisnick.html#comments Wed, 16 May 2018 15:52:46 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122508 10:52am: Outfielder Tony Kemp will get the call to replace Marisnick, per Jake Kaplan of The Athletic (via Twitter).

    7:30am: The Astros announced after last night’s game that center fielder Jake Marisnick has been optioned back to Triple-A. It’s not yet clear who’ll take his spot on the active roster.

    It seems the hope in Houston is that Marisnick can get back on track with some time spent at Fresno. As MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports, skipper A.J. Hinch said after the game that the speedy outfielder will receive “a run of at-bats he’s not going to get [in the majors] over the next ten days or however long he’s down there.”

    The current campaign has certainly been frustrating to this point for the 27-year-old Marisnick, who had posted a breakout 2017 effort. Of course, his excellent output last year — including a .243/.319/.496 slash with 16 home runs and nine steals — came with a worrisome 34.7% strikeout rate.

    Thus far in 2018, the swings and misses have ruled the day. Marisnick is striking out at an alarming 47.1% clip and has drawn just a single walk in 87 plate appearances. His power output is way down as well, though it’s the .151 OBP that is most concerning.

    While the ’Stros certainly value Marisnick’s quality baserunning and fielding, they understandably feel he needs some time to figure things out at the plate. He is earning $1.9MM this year and remains eligible for two more seasons of arbitration.

    Astros Still Believe In Slumping Hitters https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/al-west-notes-cano-middleton-as-maxwell-astros.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/al-west-notes-cano-middleton-as-maxwell-astros.html#comments Mon, 14 May 2018 01:07:00 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122276
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow admitted that “Obviously, you have to think about potentially doing something” to address some struggling hitters on Houston’s roster, though Luhnow tells Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle that he still has faith in the “proven track records” of veterans like Evan Gattis or Jake Marisnick.  In regards to Marisnick, for instance, Luhnow mentioned that his excellent defense makes him an important figure for the team.  This gives Marisnick more value than another internal option like top prospect J.D. Davis, who is tearing up Triple-A pitching but is limited to just left field.
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    George Springer (Elbow) Likely To Avoid DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/west-injury-notes-dodgers-lamb-springer-pence.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/west-injury-notes-dodgers-lamb-springer-pence.html#comments Sun, 13 May 2018 00:49:33 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122166
  • Astros outfielder George Springer is dealing with a left elbow contusion, which kept him out of the lineup Saturday, but manager A.J. Hinch expects him to avoid a DL stint (via Christian Boutwell of MLB.com). Springer suffered the injury Friday when Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels hit him with a 92 mph fastball. The reigning World Series MVP has perhaps been the Astros’ best offensive player in the early going, having slashed .296/.363/.506 with eight homers in 182 PAs.
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    D-backs To Select Kris Medlen’s Contract https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/diamondbacks-promote-kris-medlen-rotation.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/diamondbacks-promote-kris-medlen-rotation.html#comments Thu, 03 May 2018 17:18:25 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121481 The Diamondbacks announced Thursday that right-hander Kris Medlen will start for the club tomorrow against the Astros. Arizona stopped short of formally announcing that Medlen’s contract has been selected, though they’ll need to make that move after today’s game and, with it, also make a corresponding 40-man roster move. That could be accomplished simply by transferring Taijuan Walker from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL in the wake of Walker’s season-ending Tommy John surgery.

    [Related: Arizona Diamondbacks depth chart]

    In addition to Walker’s season-ending injury, Arizona recently lost southpaw Robbie Ray to the disabled list for the foreseeable future due to a strained oblique muscle. With that pair out of the picture for now, the Snakes will rely on Zack Greinke, Patrick Corbin, Zack Godley and Matt Koch to complement the newly promoted Medlen in their rotation.

    Once a rising star in the Braves’ rotation, it’s been a half decade since Medlen was an effective big league starter. The 32-year-old Medlen logged a 2.75 ERA in 445 innings with Atlanta from 2010-13, missing the bulk of the 2011 season in middle of that stretch while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He looked to have bounced back with strong 2012-13 performances, but Medlen again sustained a torn UCL prior to the 2014 season and was again forced to the sidelines for more than a year.

    The Royals attempted to buy low on the talented righty following that injury, but Medlen managed just a 5.12 ERA in 82 2/3 innings over the life of a two-year deal in Kansas City. He spent the 2017 season back in the Braves organization but didn’t end up appearing at the Major League level.

    Medlen has struggled through 18 innings with the D-backs’ top affiliate in 2018, pitching to a 6.00 ERA, albeit with a more encouraging 18-to-8 K/BB ratio in that time. At this point, it’d be a stretch to expect him to ever return to the promising form he showed prior to his second ligament surgery, though it’s certainly plausible that he could yet be a serviceable source of innings at the MLB level. Given that Ray should return from his injury at some point in June, it seems likely that Medlen and Koch will soon be vying for a single spot in Arizona’s mix of starters. Shelby Miller, too, is on the mend from Tommy John surgery, however, and could eventually pair with Ray to push both Koch and Medlen out of the starting picture at the big league level.

    Charlie Morton Discusses Future https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/astros-rumors-charlie-morton-free-agent-retire.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/astros-rumors-charlie-morton-free-agent-retire.html#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2018 19:35:07 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120643 Over the past 13 months, right-hander Charlie Morton has ascended from a relatively unheralded signing by the Astros to one of the top pitchers on a loaded Houston roster. The 34-year-old righty currently leads the American League with a 0.72 ERA and has posted a dominant 33-to-6 K/BB ratio. Dating back to Opening Day 2017, and including his postseason heroics, Morton has a 3.32 ERA with a 221-to-62 K/BB ratio in his past 195 innings.

    The righty, who turns 35 in November, has suggested in the past that he’s not sure whether he’ll continue playing beyond his current contract, which expires at season’s end, and he expounded on that difficult decision as part of an excellent Q&A with Jake Kaplan of The Athletic (subscription link). In a general sense, Morton explained that he feels at peace with his career and that his goals as a baseball player have “pretty much been fulfilled” — presumably a nod to last season’s World Series Championship (during which Morton pitched the final four innings of Game 7 and was credited with the win).

    Morton didn’t rule out the possibility of continuing his career beyond the present season, though he came across as a player who’ll be quite selective in the offseason when weighing interest from teams in free agency.

    “[I]t would be about the situation overall,” the right-hander said. “What’s the group like in the clubhouse? Where would I be? Would I be closer to [his wife’s] family (in Delaware) in a spot where she would prefer to be?” Morton goes on to list his own health and performance as additional determining factors in playing into 2019 and possibly beyond.

    Though geography could be an important factor and the East coast sounds as if it’d hold appeal, Morton also plainly stated that he’d rather remain with the Astros than test the open market at season’s end. Morton describes the group of talent in Houston as “special” and adds: “…when you think about a team that you want to play for, a team like this is it.” At present, however, he added that he’s not aware of any extension talks between his agent and the Astros.

    As Kaplan notes, Morton is rapidly pitching himself into qualifying offer territory, so the decision could be fairly straightfoward for both parties. A one-year deal at a premium rate — something north of this past season’s $17.4MM value — for the 2019 season would presumably be appealing to the Astros’ front office. Morton, meanwhile, would have the opportunity to remain where he’s comfortable on a deal that leaves him a window in the near future to walk away from the game and begin spending more time with his growing young family — something which he stressed on multiple occasions to be the most fulfilling part of his life. Certainly, it doesn’t sound as if he’ll be entertaining any long-term offers.

    “It could be this year, next year, but I’m not going to keep playing for a long time,” said Morton of his eventual retirement. “I can promise you that. I’m not going to keep playing four, five, six, seven more years.”

    Kaplan and Morton also discuss the right-hander’s improved velocity, some mechanical and training alterations, various high/low points of his career, his injury history, learning a new curveball grip from former teammate A.J. Burnett and some nicknames he’s accumulated over the course of his career in a terrific Q&A that is full of thoughtful, insightful answers from the right-hander.

    Stassi Could Be Targeted By Mets; Bruce Discusses Astros' Offseason Interest https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/mets-trade-rumors-catchers-matt-harvey.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/mets-trade-rumors-catchers-matt-harvey.html#comments Fri, 20 Apr 2018 14:09:52 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120428 The Mets have been without Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki for a week and have received just two hits from their patchwork catching tandem of Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido. However, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News hears that in spite of that, the Mets don’t plan to trade for a catcher before Plawecki returns in another two to three weeks. Ackert checked in on three AL clubs with “obvious” matches — speculatively speaking, Blake Swihart and Wilson Ramos would be a pair of clear on-paper matches — and was told that the Mets have not reached out. Rather, they’ve told clubs who’ve reached out that they plan to stay internal for now. Mike Puma of the New York Post paints a slightly different picture, reporting that the Mets have begun to kick the tires on some options. He lists Swihart, Ramos and Houston’s Max Stassi as “potential pursuits,” though there’s no mention of direct contact with the Red Sox, Rays or Astros regarding that trio in his report.

    Luhnow On Correa, Springer, Keuchel, Verlander https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/west-notes-astros-dodgers-as-giants-mariners.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/west-notes-astros-dodgers-as-giants-mariners.html#comments Sun, 15 Apr 2018 00:37:36 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120025 In a lengthy Q&A with Jim Bowden of The Athletic (subscription required), Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow touches on a slew of topics relating to the defending world champions, including the futures of shortstop Carlos Correa, center fielder George Springer, left-hander Dallas Keuchel and right-hander Justin Verlander. There’s no word on whether the Astros have begun extension talks with any of those players, but Luhnow would unsurprisingly like to retain each of them for the long haul. “If I could wave a magic wand and keep all three of those guys, plus others here for the foreseeable future and possibly for their entire careers, I would do it! It’s amazing to watch them,” he said of Correa, Springer and Keuchel. Luhnow added that he’d also like for Verlander to finish his career in Houston, which only has him under wraps through next season. Correa’s under control through 2021, meanwhile, and Springer isn’t slated to hit free agency until after the 2019 campaign. Keuchel could be gone sooner, though, as he’s scheduled to reach the open market next winter.

    Astros Place Tony Sipp On Disabled List https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/al-west-notes-rangers-miranda-sipp-bedrosian.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/al-west-notes-rangers-miranda-sipp-bedrosian.html#comments Wed, 11 Apr 2018 02:53:55 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119692
  • The Astros announced today that they placed left-hander Tony Sipp on the 10-day DL and recalled righty James Hoyt from Triple-A in his place. (MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart first reported that Sipp would hit the DL.) With Sipp on the shelf, the Astros are going with an all-right-handed bullpen for the foreseeable future, though the ’Stros do have options in that regard if they decide to change course. Lefties Buddy Boshers and Reymin Guadan are both on the 40-man roster and both pitching for Triple-A Fresno.
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