WHEELING AND DEALING

Patrick Creighton: 5 potential Astros trade targets

Patrick Creighton: 5 potential Astros trade targets
Josh Donaldson might add pop as a DH. Wikipedia

Now that the calendar has turned to June, it’s officially trade watch season.  While the Mariners and Rays completed an early deal, this is usually when the speculation starts to get hot and heavy.

While the Astros starting pitching has been tremendous, the bullpen has had its struggles and some spots in the order (DH/LF) have regressed and are not producing.

In a season where the Yankees and Red Sox appear to have improved significantly, the Astros will likely seek some upgrades as the deadline approaches.  Here are five potential trade targets:

Kelvin Herrera  CL Royals

This guy should be front and center at the top of the list.  Herrera has become an elite closer in MLB, and the lowly Royals will find him a luxury they cannot afford next season.

Herrera is making just under $8M and will be a free agent at season’s end.  The Royals are in full rebuild, and the Astros are one of the teams in baseball that are loaded with minor league talent to help Kansas City in their process.  The Royals are a bad organization from top to bottom, and have what is universally considered to be the worst farm system in baseball.

In 2018, Herrera is 1-1 with 13 saves.  In 22.2 IP, he has a 0.79 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, and 19Ks.  He has not walked a batter all season. Herrera would bring a dominating presence to the back of the pen.

Acquiring him would also hurt the Indians, who are having their own bullpen woes as well.

Jeurys Familia   CL Mets

Familia should be the backup plan if Astros GM Jeff Luhnow is unable or unwilling to meet what will likely be a sky high price for Herrera.

After a down season in 2017, Familia has regained his form, increasing strikeouts and decreasing walks.  Familia is used to a heavy workload (43 Sv in 2015, 51 Sv in 2016), has postseason experience, and is also a free agent at season’s end.  Familia is making just under $8M in 2018.

As the Mets’ injuries continue to pile up, so do their losses, and Familia will definitely be on the trade block.

In 2018, Familia is 2-3 with 14 saves.  In 29 IP, he has a 2.48 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and a 33/9 K/BB ratio.   He would take over as the Astros closer, and steady the back of the pen.  Expect him to find some rejuvenation being back on a contender in a walk year as well.  

Josh Donaldson   3B/DH Blue Jays

The 2015 MVP has been beset by shoulder and calf injuries this season but will have plenty of time to show he is healthy before the deadline.

The “Bringer of Rain” is a legit power bat that is capable of playing both corner infield spots and has experience as a DH. Donaldson had 33 HR and 78 RBI in only 113 games a season ago while slashing .270/.385/.559.

Donaldson will be the Jays biggest trade chip at the deadline, and he would inject a bolt of power into the Astros’  “Jekyll & Hyde” offense.

While currently on the DL, Donaldson is hitting .234/.333/.423 this season in 36 games, with 5 HR and 16 RBI.  His value will be more heavily determined on his health and how he hits when he returns from DL. He is making $23M in the final year of his contract.

Donaldson’s shoulder woes this season have impacted his throwing, and are likely to help drive down the cost to acquire him, as he’s best served DHing this season.

Mike Moustakas   3B/DH Royals

“Moose” found no takers on the market for his services coming off a 38 HR season.  So far in 2018, Moustakas has proven that power spike was not an anomaly, as he already has 12 HR and 40 RBI in 239 AB.

Moustakas is also on a team friendly 1 year/$6.5M deal with a mutual option for $15M in 2019 (it has a super team friendly $1M buyout).

The Royals are guaranteed to be sellers and Moose would be an instant upgrade at DH.  He also brings balance to the lineup as a left handed hitter.

Zach Britton  CL Orioles

The Astros nearly pulled the trigger for Britton at the non-waiver deadline last season before Orioles ownership nixed the deal at the last second.  

The 30 year old lefty has been one of the better closers in baseball since 2014, but injuries have beset him the past 2 seasons.

Currently Britton is on the DL after having surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles.  He is expected to be activated off the DL June 15.

So far Brit isn’t pitching back-to-back days on his rehab assignment at Triple-A Norfolk, but he is expected to do so this weekend.

If he can prove healthy and able to regain his prior All-Star form, he could be the Astros guy at a cheaper cost than either Herrera or Familia.

In 2016 (his last fully healthy season), Britton was 2-1 with an AL leading 47 saves.  In 67 IP, he had a 0.54 ERA, 0.836 WHIP, and a strong 74/18 K/BB ratio. He is in the final year of a deal that will pay him $12M.

Patrick Creighton hosts “Late Hits” weeknights 7-9p on ESPN 97.5 Houston, and “Straight Heat” weeknights 9p-12a CT on SB Nation Radio & SportsMap 94.1 Houston.   Follow him on Twitter: @pcreighton1

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome