Rating the Astros’ needs heading into the trade deadline

The Astros and their MLB brethren are about ten days from the trade deadline of August 2. (Why August 2? It must have had something to do with the lockout settlement). It is strange to have a team like the Astros that is only 2-1/2 games out of the top record in the MLB held by the Yankees and on a pace for their best season record with so many perceived holes.

We’ve seen articles such as the following lately…



There is a lot of perception tinged by inside knowledge involved here. Do the Astros need another top two or three arms in their rotation? Are they filling any spots beyond 2022? Are some of these injuries (Michael Brantley, Jason Castro) worse than revealed to this point? Are they trying to unload players they don’t want to protect in Rule 5? Is there an untouchable list headed by Hunter Brown (He heads my list)? What does the Front Office know they keep close to their vest?

Let’s look at position needs or potential needs….


The offensive side of the catcher position has been truly offensive, a recent warming trend by Martin Maldonado notwithstanding. There have been whispers that the depths of backup Jason Castro’s knee injury will be revealed soon and could be bad. Based on the fact that the team has barely used young Korey Lee since he has been called up, it does not feel like they will feel comfortable with him as Maldy’s backup down the stretch and into the playoffs.

The top catcher supposedly available is the Cubs’ Willson Contreras, who would be a rental – owed about $3 MM for the rest of this season before becoming a free agent. One of the best catchers on a non-contender who might be available and has some years of control is the A’s, Sean Murphy. Would the A’s trade within their division, and if they did, would it be to the hated Astros?

Who else is out there under the radar that the Astros might pursue?

Catcher feels like a spot the Astros could use a boost.

Starting Pitching

You can never have enough pitching, but the Astros, with potentially a slate of seven solid to excellent starters, might be on the cusp, especially when you usually only need four starters in the playoffs. Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Jake Odorizzi, Jose Urquidy, Luis Garcia, and potentially Lance McCullers Jr. make seven potential starters with ERAs spanning from 1.89 to 3.93.

If they could pick up a Luis Castillo, who has been excellent this season and has another year of control, would they do it based on potentially losing Verlander after this season?  

It is hard to picture them expending prospect capital in this area, especially when they have someone like Hunter Brown knocking on the door to the majors, behind the still controllable Valdez, Javier, Urquidy, and Garcia.


The centerfield spot has been the weak spot in the outfield this season. Jose Siri was pure bad. Chas McCormick has looked bad against right-handed pitching, which unfortunately constitutes the majority of the pitchers in the league, and we are unsure of how good or ready Jake Meyers is. The other question mark here is whether Michael Brantley is returning any time soon. Left field has been adequately filled mostly between Yordan Alvarez and Aledmys Diaz, though Yordan’s propensity for injury makes this problematic. Of course, right field is manned by All Star Kyle Tucker.

One of those potential rentals that has been bandied about has been the Royals Andrew Benintendi, who is having a fine year and will be a free agent after the season. There could be many others obviously that could be pulled in for the rest of the season or longer.

A couple wild cards here tie to Brantley’s injury and his potential recovery and how the team feels about young Pedro Leon, who has seemingly turned the corner in his development this season at AAA.

First Base

The Astros have a healthy first baseman. His name is Yuli Gurriel. He is 38 years old and, after a rejuvenation season in 2021, has fallen back into very similar poor numbers he showed in the 2020 pandemic shortened season. Yuli becomes a free agent after this season.

The big-name tossed out here is the National’s Josh Bell. He is a power-hitting switch hitter who will be a free agent after the season. He has been great this season with a .308 BA/ .389 OBP/ .889 OPS with 50 RBIs on a poor team. He is a Texas kid who might be willing to sign on for a longer term after the season.

The Astros have not tended towards making this kind of decision in the middle of the season without an injury involved. Is there any chance they might replace one of the columns of their championship teams?

Relief Pitching

The Astros, along with having the best ERA among starting pitchers in the AL have the best ERA for the relief staff in the whole majors. Still, it feels like they could use another dominant arm or so for the back side of the bullpen. They do not have a lefty in the bullpen and even if Blake Taylor returns, they do not have a dominant lefty.

There are some good options out there like David Robertson and Andrew Chafin, who is a lefty.

The real question here is what would their playoff bullpen look like? Ryan Pressly, Rafael Montero, Hector Neris, Ryne Stanek are sure things. Bryan Abreu has been solid, Phil Maton has been up and down, while Seth Martinez has been very good. You have to believe that two or three of the starters who will not be in the playoff rotation will move into the bullpen.

In the end, the front office led by James Click will have to balance what they need this season to win it all against what the sustainable future looks like. They will make or not make trades based on how they value the prospects they have in hand and where they believe they best apply them. This will be an interesting and possibly telling week and a half.


How would you rank the Astros needs heading into the trade deadline?

Which needs do you think the Astros will actually address with a trade?  


45 comments on “Rating the Astros’ needs heading into the trade deadline

  1. Last year, when they traded away Miles, I was kind of pissed. I hate messing with this team’s chemistry. Replacing Yuli’s anemic .238 with Bell’s .308 is tempting. We really have no sense of anyone’s importance in the locker room and Yuli may be a vital cog in the machine that is the Astros.
    Bell is a rental. It shouldn’t take that much to get him. The most important asset in all of baseball is starting pitching and the Astros are as thick as any team I’ve ever seen. They must have some assets down in double-A that the Nats will trade for.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I rank their biggest need as another good LH bat in the lineup. They have 10 days left to figure out if that is Michael Brantley or somebody else.
    I just don’t think that checking in on Bell or Benintendi or Castillo to see what their teams want back is the same thing as seriously trading for them.
    It seems to me when the Astros are in a series that matters, they have been the best team all year and most of the time one or two of their regulars have been out and they still win.
    It also seems to me that the Astros have played so well through their adversity that other teams may go and overpay on the market to ty to keep up with an Astros team that has everyone else worried.
    I would like to ask a question:
    Where in the hell were the Yankees on Thursday and the Mariners yesterday and today? All week we heard about how incredible and hot these two teams were.
    All you ever see is pictures of Yankees all over ESPN and MLB.


  3. I have to admit, this team is not impressive. But 63-32 is more than impressive. I see a need here and especially there, but if “good pitching defeats good hitting” I think we have the answer. They seem to be able to stretch the pitching rubber band but it doesn’t appear to break. So maybe a couple renters would have the team, but I am opposed to giving up much in the prospect pool.


  4. This year’s Astro team is easy to love, but hard to watch. Inning by inning, pitch by pitch, and at bat by at bat this team always seems to be teetering dangerously on the verge of disaster. But somehow, they have managed to fight through it and win. There are no superstars on this year’s team other than JV and Yordan – yet, we come face-to-face with teams chock full of superstars regularly and somehow this group has thus far managed to come out ahead on the scoreboard more often than not. We are not managed – just wound up and turned loose. We are not inspired – just sent out to do the day’s work. We often do not look like anything close to the best team on the field. We seldom do anything ‘web-gem’ worthy. We definitely do not dominate moment-by-moment. We are by no means an offensive juggernaut. We have frequent lapses of judgment both in the field and on the bases – and even more frequent episodes of blatant offensive incompetence. Our rotation guys have serious command/control issues that cause them to waste far too many pitches early and run up their pitch counts. Our bullpen guys walk and hit too many opposing batters, giving opposing teams a flood of late-inning opportunities. Our catchers give up too many passed balls. But somehow somebody steps up at just the right time and does just enough to net us a ‘W’ by the skin of our teeth – or our opponent does something so stupid that we back into a win.

    Do something, Jim – but please don’t try to do too much.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We live in the age of the 24-hour news cycle. That’s actually not true. If you try to look for news from about midnight to 8:00AM you’ll find it’s all the same stuff that was reported the day before, but sites need to have articles to generate the clicks and bring in that sweet, sweet ad revenue. I’m not saying they are stealing a page from ESPN’s book and inventing topics and getting just enough of a supporting comment to their narrative from someone who might know the waitress who served Alex Bregman’s sister’s best friend’s dog walker’s cousin at Applebees last night, but that’s likely what is happening with most of these. The speculation is fun and what we expect to happen. It’s why the NFL draft basically takes over April every year.

    So what do I think they should do? I like your suggestion that players who Click doesn’t want to protect should be shopped. In terms of 2022 impact, I only care about the playoffs though. If Korey Lee can handle the staff and not strikeout with a man in scoring position I’m not concerned about Castro or finding another catcher. Maldonado had some big hits last postseason and the defense behind the plate contributes a huge amount to our reliever’s success in my opinion. I like Meyers in CF, but I think you need a better contingency plan than Chaz. Leon is an interesting consideration if you can’t find anyone. I like Benintendi, but he doesn’t play CF. Excepting Bryan Reynolds, is there anyone worth paying the price it would take to acquire? The Orioles can’t trade Mullins right now. After you get through that group the only CF hitting well play on contenders or are putting up numbers in the Meyers/Chaz realm. As for 1B, Gurriel has had better second halves in most seasons. I’m mostly concerned with what he gives us in the postseason though. We lost to Atlanta (embarrassing) because their LHP dominated us throwing primarily 95 mph fastballs. If Click swings a trade, I hope it’s focused on improving our matchups in the postseason. How does he think we stack up against the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Mets, Braves, Brewers, and Cardinals? Is San Diego ready to be in that group? After so many NYY games the last few weeks I suspect Click and Baker have a feel for any areas of concerns against them. I would start with not pitching to Aaron Judge when you don’t have to.


  6. If we watched the Dodgers or Yankees or anyone else daily as we do the Astros, I’m pretty sure we’d find fault with them too. The best thing about our guys is that they have the ability to get inside other peoples heads. We know the Yankees have doubts about beating us. Some of their fans are convinced they can’t beat us. And they’ve just lost another pitcher for the season. We went up to Seattle with a compromised bullpen and promptly snapped their 14 game win streak in front of two big crowds. Today we go for the sweep. Seems like every time we think are guys are in for a rough stretch, they go out and get the job done. Yes, I’d still like to see us get better, but if we don’t, it’s not the event of the world.


  7. The AL East is crazy this year – at least at the midpoint. With the Orioles’ sudden resurgence, there is presently not even one team in that division with a losing record – despite the fact that they have to play each other a lot! Have they all been playing most of their non-division games against Oakland, Detroit, KC, Cincinnati, and the Nats, and the D-backs?


    • NYY, Baltimore, and Toronto have beat up on Oakland, Anaheim, Texas, and both Chicago teams. Tampa is an odd team – they’ve underperformed against bad teams and then get some sweeps against Seattle, STL, Boston, and Pitt. Pair that with some series wins against the other AL East teams and it explains their position. It’s fool’s gold out there. I think the AL Central improves in the second half of the season and we see a couple of those AL East teams fall off precipitously. The good news is they all look like contenders and therefore are more likely to be buyers at the deadline rather than selling. I say that’s good news as I don’t see the Astros going all-in after anyone and will be happy to see our competition overpay.


    • Agree. I think his control was a little off. Thought Framber was a little gassed after the 1st batter in the 7th but we’ll take a sweep if you please. Good game for the most part today. Glad the bats did their job.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. They tried to give away their lead twice in the late innings, but this had to be considered a crusher for the Mariners. They go into the All Star Break 9 back, but flying with a 14 game winning streak – and here they are a few days later 13 games back.
    That Altuve leadoff homer seemed to take the wind out of Robby Ray’s sails.
    Since the last time Ray faced the Astros (5 IP, 8 hits, 4 runs) he has been 3-0 in 7 starts with a sparkling 1.36 ERA and had not given up more than 6 hits in any of those games.
    Today 3 innings, 10 hits and 6 runs.

    Now can we carry some of this momentum to the team that just beat us in a series – the lowly Oakland A’s?


  9. On April 12th, 2019 the Astros flew into Seattle to face a Mariners team that was 13-2 and had a 10 game winning streak and had the best record in the league.
    The Astros swept them and that was all she wrote for a Mariners team that fell from grace with the sea.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The doubleheader sweep of the Yanks with all its warts was the key to all of that – if the Astros had been swept they might have headed into Seattle with their head between their tails. Instead they went in and grabbed this series by the throat.
    So far 5-0 on what I called a critical 15 games. Keep rolling Big Orange (or blue or whatever the color of the month is0.


  11. After starting 2022 in an absolute offensive coma, putting us near the bottom of the league in many offensive categories, the Astros are now:
    #3 in the league in HRs;
    3rd lowest in the league in striking out;
    #5 in the league in SLG;
    #6 in the league in OPS;
    #7 in the league in drawing walks;
    #11 in the league in OPS;
    #14 in the league in runs scored;
    #14 in the league in doubles.
    [We are still below the mid-point in the league in BA, hits, tripes, and stolen bases.]

    The point is this. As good as our record is, it is mostly our pitching and some timely HRs by Yordan, Altuve, Tucker, Bregman, Pena, Maldy, and a few others that has given us our Ws. If our offense ever really kicks into gear the way it is capable of doing, this team could wind up being special. We just need Bregman to stay hot, Gurriel to get hot, somebody to step up and provide above league-average offense from the CF position, good production from whoever is in LF, and an occasional well-timed monster shot or two from Maldy.


  12. Kyle Tucker is really struggling right now. And yesterday he was visibly frustrated. The OPS has dipped below .800 for the first time since June 5. But the BABip is still a low .254. Got to figure he’ll figure it out soon. And in spite of his troubles he’s still on a 100 RBI pace.


    • Last year he batted .478 on pulled balls (111 PA). This year he is hitting .307 (89 PA). I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but I’d stop looking at his BABip and start questioning whether he’s trying to pull the ball into the shift too much?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Devin, you did me a good service. As you know, I don’t typically look too deep into advanced stats. But I just took a further look at Tuckers numbers.

        His exit velocity has never been lower.
        His hard hit % is much lower than it’s ever been.
        Line drive % is much lower than at any point since his rookie year.
        His fly ball % is much higher than it’s ever been.

        Those stats are enlightening.

        And, as you suggested, his pull % is significantly higher than last year, but in line with the balance of his career. Same with his center of the field percentage. His opposite field stat is actually a little higher this year than it has been at any point in his career.

        It’s clear that he’s not making the same hard contact he has in the past. He had 37 doubles last year compared to just 14 so far in 2022. And with his speed, he should have a few triples too. He’s got zero. Maybe the league has caught up to him a bit in 2022, forcing him to pull the ball and not throwing him what he likes to hit as frequently. And maybe the shifts against him have been fine tuned too. Now I’m sure there are stats for that stuff somewhere also, but after this exercise, I’d like to see him take what’s given to him and start driving it more frequently, especially hitting the gaps for extra base hits.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I mentioned that a few weeks ago. I also believe those stats have moved closer to career norms in the last 2 months. I believe Tucker along with about half of baseball didn’t do a terrible amount of stuff pre lockout to set themselves up for a shortened ST, because those stats (EV, HH%,etc) were down across all of baseball. He isn’t going to have a career year, but he isn’t falling off the rails. If he starts similarly next season after a normal ST, he will pay the price in that first arby hearing, but even small regressions from Tucker would be the least of our problems. Finding competent players at 1B, C, and CF, and resigning JV (who almost certainly will opt out) are priority. If I were the Astros I would be working on JV now, have him decline the option next week and sign a new 3 year extension at 35 a year. But I am not them.


    • I want to remind everyone that next season there will be no shifts in the infield that will allow 3 players on the same side of the infield before the ball is delivered to the plate.
      We will return to the time in baseball where hitters who make good contact will have holes in the infield that hard-hit balls will get through. Houston’ position player core of Bregman, Altuve, Tucker, Alvarez and Pena are all contact type hitters who have power to their pull side and their BA’s will return when they don’t have to hit into an infield shift because they make contact and don’t strike out. Yordan is the best power hitter in baseball, has a BA over .300 and has K-rate of only 18.5%. Imagine him not having 3 guys on the right side of the infield next season.
      On the flip side, the Astros will need a slick-fielding young SS to handle the grounders that are now handled by 3 infielders in the shift. Oh yeah, they already have that.
      The Astros will also need a slick-fielding young 1B to handle the defense on the right side of the infield to help out Altuve, while replacing the bat of Yuli Gurriel.


      • Look, they pay me to point out the needs, and they pay James Click to fill the need. The fact that I haven’t stepped into his territory is the reason he and I have a good relationship. We have yet to argue. I’m sure he will find the right player.

        Liked by 2 people

  13. These are my uneducated guesses:

    1) Josh Bell? Yes, he could platoon with Yuli at 1B and Yuli can replace Dubon. Would the Nats want Joe Perez or J.J. Matijevic plus other minor leaguers?

    2) Luis Castillo? I don’t see this happening. He is the Reds ace, but he would be our 4th or 5th starter this year, unless we are trading Javier or Garcia (which I would not do).

    3) Wilson Contreras or Sean Murphy? Neither. I think we will stick with Maldonado and Lee (or Castro if he recovers and shows he can hit).

    4) Other Starting Pitchers? None unless one of our current starters has a major injury.

    5) Outfield? Andrew Benintendi? No, he is unvaccinated and can’t play in Toronto, which has a good chance of making the playoffs.

    6) Relief Pitching? Maybe a lefty like Andrew Chafin or Joe Mantiply. If we don’t want to give up Hunter brown, then I am guessing we likely part with Bryan Abreu or Alex Santos.


    • AstroNut, I agree with you on all accounts, but I do think Bell would play most everyday, and he would cost more. Sure would be nice to have a switch hitter who is effective from both sides of the plate. As much as we all love Yuli, I think he’d become a late inning defensive replacement and a pinch hitter, if there was still room on the roster for him.


  14. Chas is hitting .291 with a .963 OPS over the past month. Wonder if playing everyday helps?

    Jake is going in the other direction. But more importantly, he does not look comfortable out in center. He needs to own pop ups when he’s coming in on the ball. I cringe seeing Pena having to go out there and make plays. And I still can’t figure out why Jake was so far from Kemps double that did not even reach the track last night.

    We sure have gotten spoiled by our starting pitching keeping us in games. Odorizzi has had his moments, but in July he’s given up 14 runs in 21.1 innings. Don’t know who might want him, but I’d sure like to see Brown take his spot in the rotation.

    A dud of a game though. A typical Astro hangover affair. We should have hit that guy.


  15. We shouldn’t want Bell or Castillo.

    Bell is a career .266 hitter, .262 before this years .302. He is much more likely to regress to career norms in the second half. He is the perfect example of a team trying to oversell an asset on half a season. Bell is more likely to hit .265 than .302 in the stretch run. Yuli is more likely to hit .265 than .238 in the stretch run. I don’t see an upgrade worth making if it means giving up what the Nats will want for a guy hitting .302. Now if they give him away? He is definitely another bat that hits from both sides and can play LF as well.

    Castillo just seems like a guy that will lose a playoff game 4-3. He is 10 games under .500 in a long career for a reason. Obviously he has top tier stuff. That top tier stuff hasn’t turned into winning. Winners, win, even if they are on bad teams. To me, there is something about bucking down in the 6th when the goin gets tough. Watch JV in the seventh a few nights ago. 2-1 game, he bucked down, and you saw that emotion when he got that strikeout to end the inning. Winners, win. What do I see? A guy that will turn his 10-13 record on a losing team into a 13-10 record on a winning team, but we have plenty of those guys.

    If we are in on anything it needs to be to scoop another arm to put in the 5th inning in the playoffs. Right now, I just wouldn’t trust half the bullpen in a tight playoff game, and we can’t be in that position when managers are going to have much faster hooks in a playoff game. What are going to do when Framber gives up 4 runs in the first 2 innings and we are looking at trying to keep it close for 7 more? Seth Martinez? Lets hope not. Maybe we have to suck it up with Javier and have him available for that spot, but to me, CJ is the second best pitcher on the staff in a playoff scenario and should be starting game 3 of a series.


    • Granted, Bell is likely a long shot because someone else will pay more for him, but I’m sure not worried about his .266 lifetime BA. Steven you know that’s not a very important stat. How many guys do we have hitting .266 right now?? I like the lifetime .353 OBP and the .824 OPS. Those are pretty solid career norms.
      He’s selective and he makes contact. Adding him to our present lineup would would help everyone, him included. And unfortunately, Yuli has given no real indication that he’s going to start hitting again.


      • With you Dave – see my notes below to Dan. I like Bell. I just don’t think a 2 month rental when there will only be select number of at bats that he is more effective, is worth it, especially because Yuli will still be here regardless, and now you are cycling Yuli/Bell at 1B and Bell/Alvarez at DH. Maybe Yordan plays more LF, but the logjam is bigger when/if Brantley is back.

        Now if we can negotiate in a period for a day or two and lock him for 3 years, absolutely. If not, there will only be a very finite number of at bats that he sees with us that he does something Yuli won’t, and we have a 13 game lead. That’s not worth a career of a Joe Perez or Hunter Brown.


  16. I heard on the broadcast that the Astros had signed Gilbert as stated above and second pick Melton – both a bit under slot (the advantage of picking college kids high – they don’t really have a choice like high schoolers do). That means they have signed their top 10 so far.

    I don’t think the Astros will grab Bell or Contreras – they don’t normally out bid folks because they don’t have the prospect treasure trove anymore. I will say that Bell will likely give you more OPS than Yuli, even if he slides back to the norm in the second half. I would like Yuli to start getting on a roll. With Tucker floundering a bit, the lineup continues to be inconsistent.

    I am liking better ABs from Chas – the big component here is hitting the other way with power.

    I hope the Astros grab another arm for the bullpen – not sure who that would be – but would like to see it.


    • My point on Bell is over a 2 month period there will literally be 7-10 ABs over that time that he does something with the bat that Yuli doesn’t. That isn’t worth a career of a Joe Perez. Now I am with you Dan IF Bell is had for peanuts, which is possible because its a very short term rental. But if the Nats have other suitors and they ask for even 1 of our top 5 prospects, even though I think our top 5 is worse than most teams top 5 right now, I still say no. I just don’t think he will be that much more impactful in a short term rental spot. Now if we get him on the cheap, he isn’t JUST a replacement for Yuli, he can play some left, and hits from both sides. He also has considerable more power, and can bat 5th in a lineup and be more reliable.

      Maybe if they do give a top prospect that could come with a 24 hour negotiating period to try and sign him for 3 years? That is something I would be down for. He has been awful in the field his entire career, he probably should be a full time DH, and we already have one of those – two if you think Brantley should be at DH half the time. Or we just live with a sub par defensive 1B that is capable of 30 HR and 100 RBI.

      My bigger hope is we move more of the Abraham Toros of the world for other teams better BP arms – we don’t need to add as many as we did last year, but 1 or 2 very reliable late inning arms can be had cheap from a franchise that knows its not making it to the playoffs and would be happy not to pay the remainder of a priced out contract on a reliever the rest of the year. It is exactly how we got the 3 arms we got last year, those teams didn’t want to pay the remaining contracts so we traded practically nothing.

      If Dubon ends up our biggest splash, when we have this much cap space, I will be disappointed, but I think this team is still the favorite to win it all as long as they stay upright.


  17. Last night was a weird night for baseball. Almost every favorite lost to a lesser team. Check out the scores from last night.


  18. Last night was painful to watch as we were 1 -8 RISP. That was the 1st reason we lost. We did have some had hit balls but were long fly balls or hard ground outs. I don’t know what is worse with RISP; a strike out of a pop up. Both are rally killers. Odorizzi didn’t have it last night, maybe because of the blister but it was pretty obvious that after the 3rd his pitches had no movement on them at all.
    I know were not going to win every game but it gets frustrating when we had a chance to win.
    As for trade possibilities, I still like Benintendi despite the vaccination issue. I would say we’re going to need an outfielder and a 1st baseman next year. Maybe Bell is it but I’d wait on the off season to find a 1st baseman. I agree with the consensus that we need to shore up the bull pen with 1 or 2 with at least one being a lights out lefty. Lets get back upon the horse tonight and get a “W”.


  19. First of all, I don’t know if there is a stat for first basemen called “Errors saved.” But if there is one, Yuli has to be double the league average. He still is not hitting consistently, but we all know he CAN hit.

    Also, I don’t know if Hunter Brown is ready for MLB, but I do know there is one starter this no longer “MLB ready.”


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