NO DEAL!

Analyzing all the reasons the Astros were silent at the deadline

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

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:

Justin Verlander

Zack Greinke

Lance McCullers

Jose Urquidy

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.

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Life after Correa may not be the worst thing. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Carlos Correa is having a damn good year. The Astros shortstop is hitting .285 with 24 homers, 87 RBI, 72 walks, .862 OPS, a 7.2 WAR, and a .981 fielding percentage. In any other year, those would be numbers worthy of being in the mix for AL MVP (if it weren't for that dastardly Shohei Otani). Correa is also in a contract year. He and the Astros were far enough apart that the season started and he's held true to not wanting to negotiate midseason.

The offers of six years for $120 million and five years for $125 million were both rejected by he and his camp. They're seeking something much longer and for more money on the annual average. With the team unwilling to meet those demands, it seems as if the team and the player are headed for a split.

Lots of Astros fans are not happy with the prospect of Correa leaving via free agency. Some think the team isn't doing enough and should pony up to bring him back. Some feel Correa should take what they're offering because it's a fair deal that'll allow the team to sign other players. Then, there's that small band of us that are totally okay with him leaving.

One of the main reasons I'm okay with him leaving is the players the team still has under control that are potential replacements. Aledmys Diaz and Pedro Leon are the first two guys that come to mind. Diaz is a 31-year-old vet who's stepped up when he's called upon. He can slide over to third and allow Alex Bregman to play shortstop. Leon is the team's 23-year-old hot prospect who signed as an outfielder that the team has been trying to turn into a shortstop. If Correa were to leave, he could instantly plug the hole Carlos would leave behind. Either of those options lead to my next point of being okay with Correa leaving which is to...

...allocate that money elsewhere. Whether it's signing a replacement (at short or third), or boosting the pitching staff, I'll be fine as long as it's money well spent. Signing a shortstop or third baseman would determine where Bregman would be playing. If said player takes significantly less than Correa and fills 70-80% of his offensive shoes, it'll be worth it. Others will have to step it up. If they find a deal on a top of the rotation starting pitcher, that would be ideal as well. As I stated a couple of weeks ago, this team has employed a six-man rotation, but doesn't have a true ace. Spending anywhere from $20-30 million a year on a top-notch pitcher to add to the staff would bolster this staff in more ways than one. It'll finally give them the ace they lack, plus it'll bump all the young talent (still under team control) down a peg creating depth and perhaps even creating bullpen depth.

The only way any of this works is if Correa isn't back. Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander's money comes off the books also. Freeing up that much payroll and not re-appropriating those resources to ensure this team stays in contention would be a first degree felony in sports court. I don't think Jim Crane wants that for this team. I for sure don't think James Click wants that as his legacy. Let's sit back and watch how the organization maneuvers this offseason and pray they get it right.


Editor's note: If you want to read the other side of the argument, check out Ken Hoffman's piece from Tuesday.

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