Analyzing all the reasons the Astros were silent at the deadline
James Click didn't pull the trigger on any moves prior to Monday's deadline, choosing to roll forward with the team as is for the rest of the year. Extenuating circumstances related to the virus aside, it's a departure from the status quo for the Astros. The Astros were loud at the deadline last year, getting Zack Greinke. They were loud (and controversial) in 2018 when they got Roberto Osuna. They were quiet at the deadline in 2017, but famously followed it up by getting Justin Verlander at the buzzer in August in the last season where waiver trades were allowed. The team was similarly buzzy in 2015, getting Carlos Gomez and Scott Kazmir leading up to the deadline.
It's been half a decade of being massive trade deadline players for Astros fans. Yes, the pandemic certainly had a lot to do with the lack of activity. However, it's also a new regime in charge. Jeff Luhnow no longer runs the ship.
The Astros were linked to some arms, specifically relievers. Trevor Rosenthal, who eventually went to San Diego, and Archie Bradley, who went to Cincinnati, were two arms linked to the Astros that seemed plausible. While bullpen help and pitching depth is always nice, there really isn't a clear need there for the Astros.
Yes, the bullpen isn't in great shape at the moment, as they were responsible for the loss last night, but it should improve naturally by the end of the season. Roberto Osuna is working hard to get back before the end of the year. Chris Devenski and Brad Peacock are nearing a return. Josh James should be back eventually. Two pitchers currently in the rotation will slide to the bullpen when Jose Urquidy and Justin Verlander return, and a third will slide to the bullpen when rotations shorten to four arms in the postseason. Lastly, two of the young arms in Enoli Paredes and Blake Taylor have proven themselves as reliable bullpen options.
Take a look at this:
Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly, Brad Peacock, Josh James, Enoli Paredes, Blake Taylor, Chris Devenski, Cristian Javier
That staff and bullpen is plenty good enough to win a World Series, especially with an offense as potent as Houston's. The Astros' biggest deadline acquisitions are coming from the Alternate Training Site in Corpus Christi.
Trading for an outfield bat also seemed like a legitimate option. With Yordan Alvarez on the shelf for the season, there's not a set-in-stone everyday DH, meaning a trade acquisition could play there. The acquisition, if it were an outfielder or DH, would serve as insurance for losing one or more of Michael Brantley, George Springer, Josh Reddick, and Yuli Gurriel in free agency. Brantley, Reddick, and Gurriel have all played well this year, and Springer is playing better of late. Yes, those guys could very well be gone in the offseason, but those voids can also be addressed in the offseason. They can also be addressed more easily, since teams won't be limited to only the players in the 60-man player pool for each franchise. But, since the Astros don't need a bat to win RIGHT NOW, and the openings can be addressed in the offseason, there's not a need to make a deal right now.
Lastly, the farm system has been decimated through the graduation of prospects, the underperformance of prospects, and trades for big leaguers. Combine the already thin farm system with the fact that the Astros didn't have a 1st or 2nd round pick in 2020 and won't have a 1st or 2nd round pick in 2021 means it won't be getting less thin anytime soon. The few prospects the Astros do have are more valuable to the Astros than other teams, because they really do need the depth.
Fangraphs put the Astros odds at winning a World Series as the third best in baseball. This is a really good team, and there really weren't any clear upgrades available. If there were a deal that made sense for Houston, James Click would've done it. In this case, the deals he didn't make made the most sense.