Examining potential moves Astros could make before deadline

Starling Marte could be on the move. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

After losing two of three games against the Chicago White Sox over the weekend, the Houston Astros still sit atop the American League West Standings with a 56-38 record.

As it currently stands, Houston is ahead of the Oakland A's by 3.5 games and the suddenly ascending Seattle Mariners by 6 games.

To keep pace and remain ahead in the A.L. West, the Astros will look to make some roster moves with players returning from injuries and making a move or two before the July 31st trade deadline.

Alex Bregman, Aledmys Diaz, Brooks Raley and Jose Urquidy are all on the 10-day IL and should be coming back soon.

Bregman is eyeing a rehab stint with Triple-A Sugar Land soon. He has been on the IL since he strained his left quadricep on June 16th running the bases. His return could give the Astros some much-needed production at 3rd base.

Diaz on the other hand is closer to a return as he has played in two rehab games with the Florida Coast League Astros. His goal is to rejoin the club before the end of the month and give Houston some depth at all four infield positions.

Raley is close to a return as he is on the IL for health and safety reasons. As soon as he's eligible to come off that list he will rejoin the club instantly.

Urquidy has been on the IL since July 7th when he was pulled from a start against the Orioles. He will resume throwing again soon and hopes to rejoin the team some time in August, we presume.

The Astros could also bolster their bullpen with the eventual return of Pedro Baez. The 33-year-old is currently doing a rehab assignment with Low-A Fayetteville and Baez could return to the team as early as August.

Astros G.M. James Click said that Houston will be buyers at the trade deadline. The team as already been connected to multiple key players who could be on move this month.

Closer Craig Kimberl is having a great season for the Chicago Cubs and looks to be on the move. The Astros have reached out to the Cubs about the All-Star reliever, but the asking price may be too high for their liking. He is in line to make $16 million next season and could solidify this Astros bullpen. If the price isn't too high, Houston should take this consideration seriously. Kimbrel could become the new closer on this staff and All -Star Ryan Pressly could move to the 8th inning setup role like he did in 2019.

According to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, another name the Astros have been associated with is Miami Marlins outfielder Starling Marte. The 32-year-old has a batting average of .290 this season with 22 RBI's and 19 Stolen bases.

The Astros don't necessarily need another outfielder as they already have Michael Brantley, Myles Straw and Kyle Tucker. They don't need a DH either, as they have Yordan Alvarez.

What they could use though is a lead-off hitter. Jose Altuve has been solid at the top of the batting lineup, but having Marte and Altuve at the top of the lineup could be a deadly combination.

Houston could make him the everyday center fielder and make Myles Straw the fourth outfielder. Too much depth is never a problem.

The Astros have also been rumored to have interest in Nationals pitcher, Max Scherzer. He would clearly be a great addition for Houston, but he won't come cheap.

There are plenty of opportunities for the Astros to improve their roster with players returning from injuries and some moves that could be made before the trade deadline. Needless to say, the Astros are in great position to make their 5th straight playoff appearance and their 6th postseason run in 7 seasons.

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Composite image by Brandon Strange.

Even though the Astros have been in the last five postseasons and made it to the World Series in three of those, they still have some new faces on the roster this year that will be participating in their first playoff games. Three of them, in particular, could have impactful enough parts to play that they shape the entire fortune of the team in these playoffs.

Trey Mancini

Although Baltimore was in the hunt until the last weeks of the season in 2022, it took getting traded to the Astros for Trey Mancini to finally get his first taste of playoff baseball. Mancini debuted in 2016, and while his numbers have been frustrating since joining his new team, he is still a powerful slugger whom the Astros should use at times in the ALDS and beyond.

Whether they need to spell Yuli Gurriel at first or use him in the outfield, Mancini will be a good weapon for the Astros, especially if he can break out of his recent funk and string together some good at-bats. Before the trade, he was batting .268, a number much more in line with his career numbers than the low .176 he had with the Astros. With the time off between the final regular season game and his first plate appearance in the playoffs, I'd expect he'll have found a way to put the slump behind him and come through with some key hits.

Hunter Brown

One of the most pleasant surprises the Astros had this year was seeing the quality they could get out of Hunter Brown from day one in the majors. After being touted as the next Justin Verlander after his six-inning shutout start in his debut, Brown made another quality start before transitioning to the bullpen.

Now, the big caveat here is that Brown actually makes the ALDS roster, which, with Houston's depth, puts a good but challenging task in front of them to assemble the proper ratio of position players to pitchers, and within the pitchers, starters to relievers. Assuming Brown makes the cut, he could be a big difference-maker.

Brown has only allowed two hits and three walks in his last three appearances, most recently logging 2.1 innings of scoreless work to lower his ERA to 0.89. He has electric stuff and would be a great asset to have in a game where maybe one of Houston's starters can't make it past a few innings, and the Astros need someone to gap between them and the other relievers.

Jeremy Peña

One first-timer that we don't have to speculate about making the roster or getting plenty of playing time is Jeremy Peña. He'll be at shortstop and probably batting second behind Jose Altuve in the lineup. Entering the year with high expectations to take over for Carlos Correa, Peña put together an outstanding rookie campaign, including launching 22 home runs, matching Correa's rookie number, and coming in first amongst AL shortstops in defensive runs saved.

One area it may take him and others combined to replace Correa is going to the plate with the game on the line and coming through in the clutch. If Peña can come up with one of those "it's my time" moments in the 2022 postseason, he'll have completed the total takeover. In any case, it will be fun to see how the rookie does his first time on the biggest stage.

One of the most well-rounded teams in the league this year, and now in the playoffs, Houston has plenty of veteran experience that will make them a tough out in any series. Add in these three players, and it shows why the Astros are coming out ahead in most people's predictions.

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