TRADE DEADLINE

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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Here's why the Texans will make the playoffs under Lovie Smith

1. The Houston Texans had a mentally tough practice Saturday. The team has worked a lot in pads and Lovie Smith noted the days starting to build up on them during this practice. The head coach said this is a good practice because it is like the fourth quarter of the games the team will end up playing.

2. Davis Mills threw one of the best passes he has thrown all camp on Saturday. In a red zone drill, he dropped back and whipped a pass between two defenders into the tightest window he has had all camp. Nico Collins hauled in the threaded pass for a score.

3. A few reps later Davis Mills struck again. With traffic from linebackers and defensive backs, he found Chris Conley for a score. It wasn’t as tight of a window as the first one, but Mills snapped it off nonetheless.

4. Pharaoh Brown made something hard look very easy on Saturday. With Mills rolling out and tossing the ball to Brown in the back corner Brown hauled in a one-handed catch and had both feet down. Touchdown. Brown then acted like it was no big deal.

5. Pharaoh Brown has had a wonderful camp. Lovie Smith named him the starting tight end. The thing that really jumped out to me today is he makes his work look easy. He isn’t straining to excel in his opportunities. The good ones always make it look easy and it has looked easy for Brown so far.

6. Rookie linebacker Christian Harris is on the shelf for a few days. He joins fellow rookie Kenyon Green as players who are injured. Max Scharping played left guard with Green down. Wide receiver Phillip Dorset practiced while veteran wideout Chester Rodgers did not.

7. Roy Lopez flashed again today. While Friday was about the rushing attack and Lopez made his presence felt at defensive tackle, he got into the pass rush Saturday. Lopez would have had a bone-crushing sack in a live rep.

8. Ross Blacklock hasn’t been consistent. A statement like that is good and evil. There are some plays where Blacklock looks like he isn’t a factor. I watched one today. A play later he had what would have been a sack on the play. He’s a player to watch in the preseason games closely.

9. Don’t expect to see Derek Stingley in the preseason opener next Saturday. Lovie Smith wouldn’t commit to the rookie cornerback playing in the preseason. Smith did say Stingley is on track to play week one in the regular season.

10. Brevin Jordan has had a nice camp and should be an important piece for the team. Jordan had a bad drop in 7-on-7 drills that he was beating himself up over for a few minutes. That was out of the norm. He’s been used a lot and will be on the field a bit it seems for the Texans.

11. Brevin Jordan also rattled off a few contenders for the quote of the day. He exclaimed he had taken care of himself this offseason and he finally had abs. He also revealed he’s quite the fisherman and once caught a 125-pound tuna. When asked what he did with the tuna Jordan laughed and said “RIP tuna!”

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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