Every-Thing Sports

Examining if the Astros should be buyers or sellers with the trade deadline approaching

Astros George Springer and Michael Brantley
Composite photo by Jack Brame

The MLB trading deadline is normally hot and heavy. It's one of, if not the most exciting trade deadlines in sports. Rumors abound about which teams will be buyers, who's selling, what players may or may not be available. Then, there's the inevitable WOW move that no one expected or thought could be pulled off. However, this year will be different. How different? I can't tell as of yet. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it's to expect anything and nothing is "normal" anymore.

The trade deadline is August 31 this year for the shortened season. The Astros are hovering around .500 on the season. The pitching staff and the lineup both look more like the Bad News Bears than a professional baseball team. While the starting pitching wasn't expected to look as bad, the bullpen was definitely a question mark before the season began. The lineup seemingly has gone from a strength to a liability. This team went from a favorite to win the World Series, to...well, you get my drift. So, what do they do? How can they fix things? Can things be fixed? To trade, or not to trade? Let's explore the question:

Start Selling

In the economic times we're in, the future is uncertain. While things will get better eventually, no one knows when. The Astros have several attractive assets contenders would want for the stretch run and beyond. Sure, trading guys like George Springer, Zack Greinke, or Carlos Correa would be a white flag, but how else are they going to retool the depleted farm system? With draft picks taken away over the next couple drafts, already dealing away top prospects, and not getting what they thought out of Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley, they don't have many options. Shedding salary now or future salaries will aid in the economic impact of the pandemic and help start to rebuild the farm system.

Go all-In

If Justin Verlander can come back and pitch this season, that'll help the starters and bullpen if he can eat innings. If Jose Altuve can start to hit at least closer to his career low .276 batting average, that'll serve the lineup well. Lots of ifs here, but they're viable ifs (except Verlander, that scares me). That being said, why not push all the chips to the middle of the table and go for it? Your window for winning a World Series is open for only so long and it's starting to close. Making moves to keep it open as long as possible is what organizations who want to win do and do well. Time for James Click to earn his keep.

Stand pat

With eight teams making the playoffs in each league, the Astros will more than likely make it, even if they're still floundering. This team has the ammo to make a run if they get their act together. Just like I stated above, there are a lot of ifs involved. But players don't forget how to play. Skills diminsh over time. This isn't Space Jam and the Monstars didn't zap the Astros of their abilities. If Jim Crane wants to help his team, he needs to give them their balls back. Josh Innes has said it multiple times that Crane castrated this team's swagger when he made them apologize for the scandal. It has been mentally crippling to several players. Let them get back to being themselves, they'll play like they're capable of playing, and there won't be a need to make any trades. Add this to the hope of some of the younger Astros fulfilling their potential, and you have a contender.


If it were up to me, I'd stand pat unless there's a deal out there I can't refuse. If someone says they're willing to move the moon and stars for an Astros player, I'm making the move. If someone is willing to take my best (or not so best) offer for a player I feel will put this team over the top, I'm pulling the trigger. I won't risk the future of the organization on a whim. It'll be a well-thought out decision. Researching these things have already started hopefully. Whether the team pulls the trigger on anything remains to be seen. We're less than two weeks away from the deadline, so let's wait and see what happens. James Click: you're on notice sir.

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Astros on the hunt. Composite Getty Image.

With the Astros' surge from 10 games out of first place to within two games of Seattle, catching and going past the Mariners has naturally become the top objective. It's no given to happen but it's right there. In the final series ahead of the All-Star break, while the Mariners are in the midst of four games with the lowly Angels, the last two World Series champions renew (un)pleasantries at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros enter the weekend five games ahead of the Rangers. They lead the season series with the reigning champs four wins to three. While the Astros can't quite finish off the Arlingtonians by sweeping them in this three game set, shoving them eight games back (even further back of Seattle and the current Wild Card teams) and clinching the tiebreaker would seem close to a death blow. Taking two out of three would be fine for the Astros. If the Rangers win the series, they are clearly still in the American League West and Wild Card races coming out of the All-Star break.

Last year the Rangers had the best offense in the AL. So far in 2024 they rank a mediocre eighth in runs per game. Nathaniel Lowe is the lone Ranger (get it?!?) regular playing as well as he did last season. Corey Seager has been fine but not at the MVP runner-up level of last year. Marcus Semien is notably down, as is 2023 ALCS Astros-obliterater Adolis Garcia. Stud 2023 rookie Josh Jung has been out with a broken wrist since ex-Astro Phil Maton hit him with a pitch in the fourth game of this season, though fill-in third baseman Josh Smith has been the Rangers' best player. 21-year-old late season phenom Evan Carter largely stunk the first two months this season and has been out since late May with a back injury. Repeating is hard, never harder than it is now. Hence no Major League Baseball has done it since the Yankees won three straight World Series 1998-2000.

Chasing down the Division at a crazy clip

From the abyss of their 7-19 start, the Astros sweep over the Marlins clinched a winning record at the break with them at 49-44. Heading into the Texas matchup the Astros have won at a .627 clip since they were 7-19. A full season of .627 ball wins 101 games. If the Astros win at a .627 rate the rest of the way they'll finish with 92 wins, almost certainly enough to secure a postseason slot and likely enough to win the West. Expecting .627 the rest of the way is ambitious.

With it fairly clear that Lance McCullers is highly unlikely to contribute anything after his latest recovery setback, and Luis Garcia a major question mark, what Justin Verlander has left in 2024 grows more important. With the way the Astros often dissemble or poorly forecast when discussing injuries, for all we know Verlander could be cooked. Inside three weeks to the trade deadline, General Manager Dana Brown can't be thinking a back end of the rotation comprised of Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss should be good enough. The Astros have 66 games to play after the All-Star break, including separate stretches with games on 18 and 16 consecutive days.

All-Star MIAs

Viewership for Tuesday's All-Star game at Globe Life Field in Arlington will be pretty, pretty, pretty low in Houston. One, All-Star Game ratings are pitiful every year compared to where they used to be. Two, the Astros could be down to zero representatives at Tuesday's showcase. Kyle Tucker was rightfully named a reserve but had no shot at playing as he continues the loooong recovery from a bone bruise (or worse) suffered June 3. Being named an All-Star for a ninth time was enough for Jose Altuve. He opts out of spending unnecessary time in Texas Rangers territory citing a sore wrist. This despite Altuve playing four games in a row since sitting out the day after he was plunked and highly likely to play in all three games versus the Rangers this weekend. Yordan Alvarez exiting Wednesday's rout of the Marlins with hip discomfort and then missing Thursday's game seem clear reasons for him to skip, though he has indicated thus far he intends to take part. Yordan is the most essential lineup component to the Astros' hopes of making an eighth straight playoff appearance.

Ronel Blanco should have made the American League squad on performance, but pretty obviously his 10 game illegal substance use suspension was held against him. As it works out, Blanco will pitch Sunday in the last game before the break which would render him unavailable for the All-Star Game anyway. Blanco is eligible to pitch, but given the career high-shattering innings workload Blanco is headed for, no way the Astros want him on the mound Tuesday. Just last year the Astros kept Framber Valdez from pitching in the game.

While waiting, and waiting, and waiting on Tucker's return, the Astros have also been waiting on Chas McCormick to get back to something even faintly resembling the hitter he was last year. McCormick routinely looks lost at the plate. He has four hits (all singles) in his last 32 at bats with his season OPS pitiful at .572. During the break the Astros should seriously weigh sending McCormick to AAA Sugar Land and giving Pedro Leon a try in a job share with Joey Loperfido.

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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