TRADE DEADLINE

5 exciting trade targets for Astros with deadline approaching

5 exciting trade targets for Astros with deadline approaching
Craig Kimbrel would be a welcomed addition to the bullpen. Composite image by Jack Brame.

After completing a sweep of their division rivals Texas Rangers, the Houston Astros currently sit atop the American League West standings and are tied with the Boston Red Sox for the best record in the American League.

As Friday's trade deadline approaches, Houston will be looking to make some moves. They have been said to have interest in outfielders, relief and starting pitchers.

Here are five potential players the Astros could trade for before the deadline.

Craig Kimbel appears to be the most coveted relief pitcher on the trade market, and the Astros have been linked to him for a couple of weeks now.

After signing with the Cubs in late 2019, Kimbrel has struggled to say the least.

The closer's ERA over the past two seasons leaves something to be desired, posting a 6.53 in 2019 and a 5.28 during the 60-game 2020 season.

This year, Kimbrel has returned to his All-Star form with a 0.50 ERA. He is tied for third in the majors with 23 saves, along with St. Louis Cardinals closer Alex Reyes.

The Astros don't necessarily need a closer, as Ryan Pressly has preformed admirably this season, which earned an All-Star nomination. However, they could use some help in the 7th and 8th innings.

In 2019 Pressly was acquired to become the setup man. He was thrust into closing duties during the 2020 season because of Roberto Osuna's season ending injury. Theoretically, if Kimbrel were to be acquired by the Astros, he could become the new closer and Pressly could return to his 8th inning role. Houston could have a dynamic bullpen with both relievers pitching important innings on their way to another playoff run.

Max Schezer has been linked to the Astros, albeit with some hesitancy by the club. The 36-year-old has not pitched since July 18th and is dealing with tricep discomfort.

That being said, any contending team would love to have a World Series champion pitcher to bolster their rotation. The Mets, Dodgers, Rays, and Mariners have all been linked to the former Cy-Young Award winner, in addition to the Astros.

Houston has been hesitant to acquire Scherzer due the aforementioned injury issues, but also what the price would be to get him. He's an unrestricted free agent after the end of the season and is looking for one last big payday. Scherzer's agent Scott Boras made it very clear that Scherzer would not waive his no-trade clause unless his new team offered him a multi-year extension.

The Nationals don't want to give up their ace for nothing, so it may be hard to acquire Scherzer before the deadline without mortgaging the future and giving him a Verlander-esque extension.

If Scherzer is a no-go for Houston, they should look to add Jose Berrios. Although he has not been linked to Astros thus far, Berrios could add some pitching depth. The 27-year-old figures to be wildly popular on the trade market since he's under team control for 2022. He ranks ninth in MLB with 121 2/3 innings pitched and is sporting a 3.48 ERA as well.

Due to his control for next season, the Twins might ask for the moon for their All-Star caliber pitcher. If he could be acquired for only a few prospects and one of Houston's bullpen arms, the Astros could be in line to bolster their already great rotation.

Starling Marte was mentioned to be on the Astros radar last week. Talks have died down since, but adding the Marlins center fielder wouldn't be a bad addition by any means. Marte is hitting .423 over his last seven games with 11 hits as well. He could be an upgrade in center field and could move Myles Straw and Chas McCormick to the bench. Marte isn't a need for the Astros necessarily, but his addition could improve the teams' production both on the field and at the plate.

Byron Buxton could be another interesting name to watch out for as the trade deadline approaches. The Twins and Buxton were unable to reach a deal on a contract extension. Thus, increasing the likelihood of the center fielder getting traded before Friday.

Minnesota already traded Nelson Cruz to the Rays, so the fire sale appears to be underway.

This is shaping up to be an exciting trade deadline for Houston fans. Don't be surprised if the Astros make multiple moves before the deadline passes on Friday.

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Braves beat Houston in extra innings, 5-4. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Marcell Ozuna hit his major league-leading eighth homer and Orlando Arcia’s RBI single in the 10th inning lifted the Atlanta Braves to a 5-4 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

It completes a three-game sweep of the struggling Astros and is Atlanta’s fourth straight victory.

The Braves scored two runs in the eighth inning to tie it at 4-4. Michael Harris II started the 10th as the automatic runner on second and there was one out in the inning when Seth Martinez (1-1) intentionally walked Matt Olson.

Ozuna lined out to right field to send Harris to third base. Arcia then singled on a ground ball to left field to score Harris and put the Braves on top.

Pinch-runner Jake Meyers was on second when Kyle Tucker walked with no outs in the 10th. Meyers moved to third on a fly out by Yainer Diaz but Jeremy Peña grounded into a double play to end it.

A.J. Minter (3-1) got the last two outs of the ninth for the win and Raisel Iglesias earned his fifth save.

Reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. added his first homer of the season to help the Braves to the victory. Ozuna also leads the majors with 23 RBIs and he extended his hitting streak to 16 games, which ties his career best and is the longest active streak in the majors.

Yordan Alvarez and Mauricio Dubón both homered for the Astros, who fell to 6-14 and are last in the AL West.

There was one out in the first when Alvarez connected on his homer to the seats in left field to put Houston up 1-0.

Ozuna opened the second with his 432-foot shot to left field, which bounced off the wall and tied the game.

Acuña put the Braves up 2-1 when he sent the first pitch of the fifth inning to straightaway center field.

The Astros tied it on an RBI single by Alex Bregman in the fifth and Kyle Tucker’s RBI double came next to put the Astros up 3-2.

Dubón hit his first home run of the year off Jesse Chavez to start Houston’s sixth and push the lead to 4-2.

Harris singled to start the seventh before a ground-rule double by Austin Riley. Olson reached, and Harris scored on a fielding error by first baseman José Abreu when he couldn’t grab a routine ground ball.

There was one out in the inning when Riley scored on a sacrifice fly by Arcia to tie it at 4-all.

Houston starter J.P. France allowed four hits and two runs in five innings.

Max Fried gave up seven hits and three runs in five innings.

UP NEXT

Braves: Atlanta is off Thursday before opening a series against Texas on Friday night with LHP Chris Sale (1-1, 4.58 ERA) on the mound.

Astros: Houston is also off Thursday before ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night against Washington. The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder.

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