In the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons there was quite a bit of talk about the Astros’ untouchables as the team put together big-time trades for Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke respectively. At that time the untouchable discussions were all about prospects and frankly centered on two unproven (at that time) prospects, Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley. The word was that those two were untouchables and were not included in any of the discussions for the pitching triumvirate that the team reeled in back then.
Now to be truthful, I’m sure there was a price that would have pried those two gentlemen out of Jeff Luhnow’s arms. It is just that the type of offer to move them (Verlander straight up for Whitley) was not going to be made. So, both of them are still with the organization with Tucker showing well in the 2020 season and Whitley still being a very large, talented question mark. If we expand that untouchables list to not just include prospects, but to the big team also, who is on this list today?
We know that there are not likely to be any major trades right now, but let’s assume it is mid-2021 and maybe things are not going so well for the team. Who is touchable and who is untouchable (within reason)?
Kyle Tucker. If Tucker was untouchable before he had done anything worthwhile at the MLB level, he has to be untouchable today. He is just 24 years old, led the team in hits, RBIs and SBs while near the top in a lot of other stats and is controllable for 5 seasons. He is not touchable.
Forrest Whitley. The Whitley conversation has to be quite different than the Tucker conversation. He has missed time due to injury and by violating the non-PED drug rules of MLB. He has shown talent in spurts, like in his last two sessions in the Arizona Fall League. If he is untouchable it is due to what the organization knows about him and expects from him, not what he has shown in limited exposure to date. The right price might pry him away from the team, but it is not likely to be offered until he shows a bit more to the outside world.
Alex Bregman. Bregman struggled in 2020, probably due to an unhealed injury. But in 2018 and 2019 he was an All Star and in the top 5 in AL MVP voting both seasons. The Astros have him locked up through 2025 and he is going nowhere.
Jose Altuve. Jose is owed 4 seasons at $29 MM per year. If he plays up to his normal self, he is untouchable. If he plays as bad as he did in 2020 he would be considered an untouchable by other teams. He is such an icon and probably the current face of the team, so unless he just crashes for a couple seasons and they do a salary dump, he is staying here.
Yordan Alvarez. Untouchable – enuf said…..
Cristian Javier. Javier flew up through the minors culminating in being the Astros’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2019. He then jumped to the majors with so many holes in the rotation, put up a very good season (5-2, 3.48 ERA) in 2020 and came in 3rd in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. Considering he is also controlled through 2025, he has to be untouchable at this point.
Pedro Leon. Can a guy who has not played outside Cuba be considered untouchable? The Dodgers did not think Yordan Alvarez was untouchable and traded him before he played a game for them. Bet they would love to get in a Delorean and head back to that decision. It would be a great bet that at least for the near future the Astros consider the reported five-tool Leon untouchable.
Framber Valdez, A year ago this would have been a laughable conversation, but after learning how to control his world-class curveball and having a very strong showing in 2020, Valdez may well be on the cusp of untouchable. When you can fill a rotation spot ably with major league minimum $, you don’t let that go.
Untouchable, if…… Carlos Correa, Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr. will all be free agents after the 2021 season. But if they are playing up to snuff and the Astros are contending, the Astros will hold tightly on to them and deal with it after the season. But if things are not going well…they all could be headed elsewhere.
Youngsters. Do any of the top youngsters (besides Whitely) rate the untouchable tag? Hunter Brown, Tyler Ivey, Jairo Solis, Luis Garcia and on and on make up a deep set of prospects waiting for their chance to show their stuff. Are any of them untouchable? Not that we know, but this team is likely going to build a cheaper sustainable team based on their young pitching. So some of them may well be untouchable.
- Do you agree with the untouchable list above?
- Would you take anyone off? Why?
- Would you add anyone to it?