The Houston Astros are currently the favorites to win the American League pennant.
With a current record of 63-31, they are well on their way to winning the Western Division of the American League. They have a 16.5 game lead over the Mariners and there is relatively no chance that they blow that comfortable margin.
The Astros are very young and have performed extremely well this season under manager A.J. Hinch. Though the team has played superbly, there are still issues within the team that need to be addressed if they want to go deep into the playoffs.
Their biggest need at the moment is a starting pitcher to team up with Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers in a series. Mike Fiers, Charlie Morton, and Brad Peacock just don’t strike fear in opposing teams’ lineups. And in reality, McCullers is very young and his ability in a playoff game has yet to be tested.
Unfortunately for the Padres, they do not have a starting pitcher that fits the mold of whom the Astros would like. Sure Clayton Richard, and Jhoulys Chacin are available, but they are not much better than Morton, Fiers, and Peacock.
Yangervis Solarte might be of interest, but an injury has his value minimal at best. The Astros are looking for depth and could very easily pick up a few key pieces to possibly get them to the next level in the playoffs. They are virtually assured a playoff spot, but only the strong survive in the end. Picking apart non-contending teams and losing a few prospects is just part of the game.
Lets take a look at the two teams and dissect a potential trade.
Players the Astros covet
With Tony Sipp as the teams only left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, the Astros could surely use the services of Brad Hand coming down the stretch of the season and into the playoffs. Hand would help stabilize their bullpen, although the team does not currently have problems with their relievers. Still, having a lefty like Hand in a playoff series is necessary.
The Padres have recently made it clear that they do not need to trade Hand. He is not an impending free-agent, and the team is still getting production from the pitcher at a relatively inexpensive price. With that being said, his value is probably the highest it has ever been or ever will be. The Padres might just have to move him if they want to truly build for the future. I know the reports indicate he doesn’t have to be dealt, but in reality it is probably time.
Brad Hand and his electric slider is someone who will command a pretty decent return. When it is all said and done, A.J. will get a fair deal done for his hurler. Hand is 27 and owns a 2.25 ERA in his first 45 innings pitched this season. His WHIP is 0.979 and he has struck out 61 batters (11.4 K rate), while walking only 13 (2.4 BB rate). All three (WHIP, strike out rate and walk rate) are new career highs. His value is peaking at the correct time for the Padres.
The Astros do need starting pitching, but this duo is nothing to be excited about. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder though.
The Astros might have some interest, but neither of these three will command a high return. If you package one of them with Brad Hand, suddenly you might have something. The Astros are on the verge of going really deep in the playoffs. They need all the veteran arms they can get and the Padres could surely help stock their team with pitching.
The team could use him as a platoon option at third with Bergman or at first with Gourriel. The problem is that he is currently hurt and hasn’t played since mid-June. The infielder would be a nice option for the Astros, but the Padres are not going to deal him at a discounted rate. A.J. Preller is not about trading pieces when their value is down, so expect Solarte to remain a Padre for the near future. I had to mention him in this piece as he does have value to the Astros.
PAGE 2 LINK BELOW