DEAL OR NO DEAL?

Patrick Creighton: Astros trading Kyle Tucker? Stop it

Kyle Tucker is not going anywhere. MLB.com

Over the weekend, a report came out that the Houston Astros were having trade discussions with the Miami Marlins for C J.T. Realmuto.  According to the report, from Sirius XM’s Craig Mish, the Marlins want stud prospect Kyle Tucker in any such deal, and that the Astros aren’t opposed to dealing the top-15 minor leaguer in a deal.

My first reaction to this was…..  Shenanigans.

Upon further review my reaction is….  Still Shenanigans.

Kyle Tucker is the Astros No. 2 prospect in their system.  He was deemed “untouchable” in the Gerrit Cole trade talks.  Why would he suddenly be in play now, especially for a less accomplished player?

This isn’t to be disparaging of Realmuto.  The soon-to-be 27 year old catcher turned in a career year in 2017, hitting .278/.332/.451 with 17 HR 65 RBI and 31 2B in 532 AB as the primary backstop for the Marlins.  He’s also making a team friendly $2.9M in his first year of arbitration. He is considered to be a player on the rise. That doesn’t always mean that career trajectory will continue to point up, but it’s obviously a positive.

However, if we look at Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow’s recent track record, he doesn’t deal players he thinks are going to be studs.  Case in point – Alex Bregman.  Bregman’s name was mentioned in every trade scenario that the Astros were reported to be in for over a year.  Luhnow was firm in his commitment to not trading him because he believed Bregs would be a star player for a decade or longer.  He waited out the trade market for a starting pitcher, ultimately landing Justin Verlander without surrendering his budding star 3B.

If Luhnow feels the same way about Tucker, and considering his past stances on Tucker not being available in deals there is no reason to presume that he doesn’t, then there’s no way Kyle Tucker is being traded for anyone.  

Another thing to keep in mind is the guy who broke the story is Craig Mish.  Mish, to his credit, also broke the story that Realmuto wanted to be traded to begin with.  Clearly, his info is coming from the Miami side of the equation.  Miami may want to get Kyle Tucker in return, but that doesn’t mean Luhnow intends to acquiesce to their request.

I’m not suggesting the Astros don’t have interest.  There’s plenty of reasons to be interested in Realmuto.  Maybe the Astros think McCann can be a mentor to him as well.  There is, however, the issue of how often Realmuto would play.

Right now Brian McCann is the Astros starting catcher.  He’s 33, he’s making $17M ($11.5M of which the Astros are paying) and coming off a productive season in which he  hit .241/.323/.436 with 18 HR and 62 RBI in only 349 ABs.  McCann is also a good defensive catcher known for working well with young pitchers.

This, however, should be a legitimate question to ask:  Why would the Astros deal for a player who would be a part timer by trading away a bigger prospect who could legitimately be a full time player for Houston in the OF within 12 months (if not 3)?

Consider that Realmuto is already into first year arbitration, and Tucker has (likely) three seasons from when he’s called up to hit Arb 1.  Realmuto plays a position that the Astros have 2 legitimate players and Tucker can be a starting RF or LF on arrival.

There’s too many parts here that don’t make sense and don’t follow previously established patterns of Luhnow or the Astros.  Interest in Realmuto?  Maybe.  Trading Kyle Tucker for him? Don’t believe the hype.

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Houston now focused on postseason

Altuve and Correa homer, Astros drop final regular-season game

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With no playoff impact at stake if the Astros won or lost the game, Houston took Sunday's final regular-season game as a chance to get their lineup a few more at-bats before shifting focus to Tuesday's first game of the post-season. Here is a quick recap of the game against the Rangers:

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4.

Record: 29-31, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wes Benjamin (2-1, 4.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chase De Jong (0-1, 14.73 ERA).

Houston's main bats get a final tune-up

Knowing they'd only have a couple of at-bats to work with, some of Houston's big bats took advantage, starting with Jose Altuve. He crushed a pitch in the top of the first, a solo homer to put the Astros in front 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Altuve started the third with a walk before moving to third base on a Michael Brantley single, which improved Brantley's season average to .300.

Aledmys Diaz would pick up the RBI on a groundout to score Altuve, putting Houston back in front 2-1. In Correa's last at-bat in the top of the fourth, he extended the lead to 3-1 with a solo home run of his own.

Rangers hand Astros a loss to end the regular season

After getting the early run against Chase De Jong, the Rangers would put together a big inning against him in the fourth. After two one-out singles, Rougned Odor would give Texas their first lead of the day on a three-run homer to make it 4-3.

De Jong would continue to struggle in the inning, getting just one more out while loading the bases, prompting a move to the bullpen to bring in Nivaldo Rodriguez to try and eat up more innings. The Rangers greeted him with a two-RBI single to extend their lead to 6-3 before ending the fourth. Odor would hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot to make it a four-run lead at 7-3.

Rodriguez allowed another run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 8-3. Diaz, who drove in a run earlier, would account for another RBI in the top of the eighth, getting Houston's third solo homer of the day. That would make it an 8-4 game, which would go final as the Rangers would win the regular season's last game.

Up Next: Houston's first game of the playoffs will be on Tuesday, with the start time and opponent TBD while the rest of today's games wrap up, and the schedule is announced. Regardless, the Astros are expected to begin that best-of-three series with Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

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