Patrick Creighton: Astros trading Kyle Tucker? Stop it

Kyle Tucker is not going anywhere.

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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Correa knows it's time for his payday. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Rangers made a big splash over the weekend when they agreed to terms on a 7-year $175 million contract with infielder Marcus Semien. Apparently, that was just the tip of the iceberg. According to multiple reports, the Rangers have also added arguably the most coveted player in free agency, Corey Seager. Seager and the Rangers have agreed to a massive 10-year $325 million contract.

Before the Seager news broke, many were starting to wonder if teams would be willing to hand out 10-year deals for over 300 million dollars with the lockout just around the corner. Now we have our answer, and Carlos Correa has to be a very happy man to see how the market is shifting. The Rangers not only added two incredible players, but they also made it pretty much a certainty that Correa will either leave Houston, or the Astros will have to sign him to a long-term $300 million deal, which is not likely based on their stance on multi-year big money contracts.

The Rangers aren't the only team in the AL West making blockbuster moves. The Mariners agreed to terms with 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray on Monday. Ray and Seattle agreed to a 5-year, $115 million contract.

The Angels joined in on the action a couple of weeks ago when they signed Noah Syndergard to a 1-year 21 million dollar deal.

Clearly, the AL West is on notice that they're going to have to make big changes if they want to compete with the Houston Astros who have dominated the AL recently with 5 straight ALCS appearances and 3 trips to the World Series. With Correa likely out the door in Houston, these teams might believe this is a perfect time to make a run at the division and finally knock off the Astros. Only time will tell if these deals will work, and the Astros look to have a terrific team this season whether Correa returns or not.

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