How gain, gamble divide is closing as Astros reach crossroads with star slugger

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As Astros fans patiently wait for the club to make some moves in free agency, the Alex Bregman trade talk is picking up steam across several media outlets.

MLB Network Radio's Jim Duquette (also a former MLB GM) believes the Astros are listening to offers for Bregman because the team isn't planning on signing him to a massive contract extension.

The Astros are right up against the tax threshold, and dealing Bregman would give the team more flexibility to maneuver in free agency. He's set to make around $30 million in 2024.

This is certainly something Houston fans are used to. Owner Jim Crane has made a habit of letting his top tier players walk in free agency. They'll likely offer him a contract, like they did with Carlos Correa. But the Astros aren't usually willing to pay market value, and other teams certainly will.

To be fair to the Astros, signing Bregman to an 8-10 year deal probably isn't the best way to spend their money. So if they don't plan on re-signing him, they have two choices. Keep him for one more year, or trade him.

However, this would be a departure from their standard operating procedure. Trading Bregman before his deal expires would at least provide the team some value for one of their best players.

On the flip side, moving Bregman would absolutely weaken the team, and decrease their odds at winning a championship in 2024.

Let's face it, all good things come to an end. And the Astros have been serious World Series contenders for the last seven years. At some point, they'll have to replenish their weak farm system, and trading Breggy could help with that.

When should they trade him?

If they trade him before the season, they'll get a bigger haul than at the trade deadline. Either way, we shouldn't expect a massive return for Alex. Teams don't like trading top prospects AND having to hand out mega contracts.

Astros GM Dana Brown spoke this offseason about being creative. And doing something like this would certainly qualify.

Who would replace him?

We know the farm system is thin, so it could be as simple as playing Mauricio Dubon at third. Grae Kessinger could fill the utility infield role, and the team has plenty of options in the outfield with Jake Meyers, Chas McCormick, Yordan Alvarez, and Kyle Tucker. Corey Julks could also add some depth.

Is there a chance the Astros would consider moving their Gold Glove shortstop to third base?

Be sure to watch the video above as we cover all the angles on a potential Bregman trade!

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Here's why Framber Valdez is the key to another Astros World Series

Per The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Framber Valdez plans on both he and the catcher calling pitches this year. He said he “wants to feel more comfortable,” adding “not that I don't feel comfortable with the catchers, but I want to feel comfortable and throw the pitches with more conviction…to feel like I have the game in my hands.”

Is that a good thing? Either way, it seems like a return to form for Framber Valdez is the biggest “what if” for the 2024 Houston Astros.

Be sure to watch the video above as ESPN Houston's Paul Gallant & Joe George discuss.

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