If the Astros complete their quest to trade one of the starting bowlers, they get no prospects in return. No, the Astros justify a move to his club by getting help in the Major League, according to sources familiar with the team’s thinking. Ideally, this player will be a player or central player under the club’s control after this season.
The Astros are willing to trade a start because they are already using a six-man rotation, and Lance McCullers Jr. Right-handed is the seventh choice if, as expected, he returns from forearm fatigue in August. This depth can be transient. But as things stand, the best way the Astros can make their roster more effective is to move a start to a focused player who meets a roster’s needs.
Who is this player? Good question. The trade market is not deep in hunting or quarterbacks. The obvious potential targets — Orioles quarterback Cedric Mullins, Pirates quarterback Brian Reynolds, and track and field catcher Sean Murphy — aren’t playing for teams serious about making the playoffs. So, the motivation for these clubs to meet the Astros’ price for a steady start wouldn’t be particularly strong.
Oriole is a possible exception.
As a surprise contender, would they rule the club for an additional three years with Mullins to three right-handers Jose Orquedi if the Astros are also willing to include midfielder Jose Seri and his prospects in a bigger deal? Sources said a number of teams are exploring deals for Siri. Phillies, Marlins, and Brewers are among those looking for central field assistance.
Jake Odorizzi, 32, is probably the bowler the Astros consider the most expendable, but his value isn’t particularly high (he’s also developed a blister on his right middle finger on Tuesday night that he doesn’t expect to be a problem for him going forward) .
Urquidy, 27, will be in greater demand. He underwent Tommy John’s surgery in 2017 and missed two and a half months with shoulder issues last season. His stuff is not on the level of Cristian Javier or Luis Garcia. But he has a career 3.69 ERA and experience in the past three seasons, including his five goalless innings as a starter for the Astros in Game 4 of the 2019 World Series.
For the pirates to trade Breynolds or athletics to move Murphy, they would almost certainly need a group of younger players. They can land these players by getting a pitcher from the Astros and then flipping it over to another club. Most likely, the burden will fall on the Astros to find a third team. The odds they get for their novice can then be used as part or all of a package for Reynolds or Murphy.
Such deals are difficult to achieve. Perhaps there is a simpler path the Astros can land a player that is currently not known to be available. One thing seems for sure: if the Astros trade in a starting throw, it’s for the talent that will help them in the present, not the future.
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The Padres’ AJ Preller is among the GMs who typically explore each big name’s endeavours, so perhaps not surprisingly, according to sources, he’s checking in on Angels Shohei Ohtani and Frankie Montas Athletics. However, Padres’ mere interest in getting a promotion is likely to unfold on several fronts.
Preller can be:
• The left Mackenzie Gore is preparing to go out for a long time. Gore, a 23-year-old rookie, went on the casualty list Tuesday with inflammation in his left elbow.
• Concerned about the recent inconsistency made by Sean Manea on the left. The Manner has a 5.91 ERA in his last seven starts, and has fought four or fewer rounds in three of them.
• Attempt to trade an easy Blake Snell or another novice for payroll editing and/or other needs. The Padres family is close to the $230 million luxury tax threshold. Snell, who has a 3.20 ERA and 33 strikes over 19 2/3 innings in four July starts, is under contract of $10 million this season, $13 million next season and $16.6 million in 2023.
• Interested in adding a club-controlled shooter beyond this season with Manaea, with Joe Musgrove and Mike Clevinger representing potential free agents. Musgrove originally planned to come to a decision on his contract talks by the end of the All-Star break. One week later, he still disagrees with the club, leaving him a little more than three months away from hitting the open market.
• Seek additional protection as they return to a rotation of more than five men. They used six starting players for most of the first half, but Al Gore’s injury changed the equation and Nick Martinez’s last start was on June 18.
Like Manaea, who arrived on a deal from athletics on April 3, Montas has made a number of seasons for Padres manager Bob Melvin in Auckland. The Cardinals and Yankees are among the other teams showing interest in the right wing, who has advanced twice since an 18-day break due to a sore shoulder, and has a 3.18 ERA in 104 2/3 runs for the season.
Diamondbacks’ Walker is the first important policeman
Perhaps the most sought-after first baseman, Nationals’ Josh Bell, caught the interest of the Astros, Powers and other clubs. But Christian Walker Diamondbacks looms as an interesting alternative to the site.
And the 31-year-old Walker hits just 204, the sixth lowest average among the playoffs. However, he has reached 23 homers and his expected rate stats suggest that his actual stats should be better. He’s also the league’s top first-choice defensive player, as measured by both his saved and average defensive flows. And unlike Bale, a potential free agent, Locker remains two years in control of the club.
The problem with trying to get Walker is that the Diamondbacks value him for the same reasons teams might want to. Therefore, club officials view Walker’s trading as questionable. They want to improve their club in the Major League, not build the best farm system. And their farm system looks pretty good.
Outfielder Corbin Carroll ranked second and last in Jordan Lawlar 11’s standings on MLB.com’s latest list of top 100 odds, which it posted shortly before the amateur draft. The Diamondbacks’ pick for Drew Jones could give them three in the top 25 once the roster is updated.
The team, while it currently lacks a home pitcher in its main league team, is excited about some of its minor pitchers. Notable among these is Tommy Henry, who has a 3.64 ERA in 19 starts for Triple-A Reno while serving in a hitter-friendly home garden and a hitter-friendly league.
(Top photo: Jake O’Dorrese: Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports)