The Houston Astros Bullpen May Need a Hand

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Credit: AP Photo

It is no secret that the Houston Astros need relief help. Would a trade for San Diego Padres’ closer Brad Hand solve the current bullpen issues for the defending World Champions?

The 2018 trade season is in full swing. Manny Machado rumors are swirling. The Baltimore Orioles’ infielder will be dealt very soon. There is no doubt about that. The Orioles have to cash in now or forever hold their peace.

Brad Hand. Now that is another story.

The San Diego Padres certainly do not have to deal their all-star closer. He is signed for the following two seasons (with a third year team option) and is throwing the ball very well. The team hopes to compete next season with an eye on 2020 as a real growth year. Hand is under contract for both those seasons and at a reasonable price ($14.6 million). He also has that $10 million dollar option for 2021 which is affordable. Unlike the pending free agent Machado, there is no urgency to deal Brad Hand.

Since the Padres are not in a hurry to move the closer they have been mysterious in their intentions. They may not deal Hand, but that doesn’t mean they are not fielding calls and entertaining offers. The Friars have a farm system that is currently overloaded with talent. If they can get upper echelon young players and prospects in a trade, then they could certainly be tempted to move Hand.

Enter the Houston Astros who are having real relief issues. Former closer Ken Giles was recently removed from game by manager AJ Hinch. As the reliever walked off the mound he cursed out his manager and it was caught on camera. Not a good thing. Hector Rondon has closed some games out for the team recently, but he blew a save on Tuesday. He is not a long-term answer at the position. The team needs help and especially from the left hand side where they lack quality pitchers in the bullpen.

The Astros have a very nice farm system highlighted by three players in the top 100 prospect list according to MLB pipeline.

Kyle Tucker (#8 overall), Forrest Whitley (#9), and Yordan Alvarez (#51) are all promising young studs. At this point, the Astros will not deal Tucker or Whitley. That would be like asking the Padres about MacKenzie Gore or Fernando Tatis Jr. It would take far more than Brad Hand to pry either of those two from Houston. Let’s not kid ourselves.

Credit: Astros Future

Alvarez on the other hand is an interesting option for the Friars. The power hitting outfielder/first baseman just turned 21 and tore up the Texas League this season to the tune of a .325/.389/.615 batting line with 12 homers in 43 games. He was promoted to Triple-A this week, which is very impressive for the Cuban national.

Yordan Alvarez is really developing into a slugger who uses the whole field. He has plus bat speed from the left side of the box and a very quick, compact stroke. At 6-foot-5 and 225 lbs, he has great size and will only get bigger and stronger in time. He could be a special player. Defensively, the right handed thrower has played mostly left field and first base. He has decent range and speed for his size, but lacks overall arm strength. He may end up solely at first in the future if he cannot improve his outfield skills.

At this point, Alvarez would only add to a crowded corner outfield spot for the Padres. He has a very high ceiling, but we have yet seen him against upper echelon pitching. The Astros may be intrigued by an offer centered around these two (Hand and Alvarez), but it is still not a deal perfect for each team.

In the end, there would probably have to be players included in a potential deal. That is where things get tricky. Adding lower tiered players that are young can be dangerous, especially if the Padres are the ones including prospects to get a deal done. Theses two sides have a decent base to get a potential deal done. The Padres are going to hold out for the best possible offer and the Astros can certainly make a strong run. Alvarez is an interesting option, but do the Padres covet him and are the Astros willing to part with the talented player? Less than three weeks left before the trade deadline. Only time will tell. The hot stove is certainly heating up. The Padres will be active. But we have no idea to what degree.

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James Clark
James was born and raised in America's Finest City. He is a passionate baseball fan with even more passion towards his hometown Padres. Editor-In-Chief of Always striving to bring you the highest quality in San Diego Sports News. Original content, with original ideas, that's our motto. Enjoy.

19 thoughts on “The Houston Astros Bullpen May Need a Hand

  1. Fof real. People need to stop pushing Brad Hand for Yordan Alvarez. Alvarez is no better than Josh Naylor and we got him for two months of a sucky Andrew Cashner. 3.5 years of Brad Hand (with the last year being in club option form) is way more valuable than that. If it’s Brad Hand the Astros want, tell them to put up Whitley or pound sand!

  2. If Alvarez is the only piece coming back in this scenario I am completely against it. A one for one trade here would be like the Padres need to trade hand which they don’t. Compare the numbers and you are trading for Naylor which you already have. If anything I would like to move Naylor since he is blocked everywhere to add a piece

    1. Alvarez is a much better power hitter than Naylor. More home runs and nearly as many doubles, despite the fact that he has far fewer at bats. He is also much more athletic, so his transition to the OF will be easier.

  3. Just watching the Yankee/Indian game, didn’t realize how BAD the Indians bullpen has been this year. If there ever was a contender that needs relief help, it’s them. Preller should be on the horn everyday with Chernoff trying to get Mejia (+) for Hand (and Yates?).

  4. Yordan Alvarez would be a good acquisition, because the kid can hit. Most seem to think he can play a competent left field. I would have no problems trading Hand for him. Whether the Astros agree is a different matter.

  5. Let’s follow this thought. Two years ago the only even decent position player on the team played 1B, so Preller went right out and spent $144 mm on another 1Bman, now this article suggests we trade the best player on our team, signed to a team-friendly deal, for yet another 1B man?
    How exactly is this an interesting option for the Padres? It’s like a family that needs an SUV and an economy car simply says screw it and goes ahead and accumulates 3 SUVs, one of which sits in the front yard. If one of your friends did this you’d think he was out of his freaking mind.
    And c’mon, if a player lacks the athleticism to play good defense in the OF at 21, just call it what it is, he’s a 1Bman.

    Just so folks can get a sense of how stupid the Hosmer signing was, I’ve linked a Fangraphs article that lays it out. Impressively, but embarrassingly dumb.

    And of course the club is paying Hosmer for his leadership, for a club that is damn near the worst in the league.

    1. Preller jacked up our 1B and outfield positions for years to come. Can’t add anymore promising outfielders, and Josh Naylor will never get to be a Padre. Preller has little room to maneuver this trade season, and adding more “prospects” only exposes more talent to the next Rule 5 draft.

    2. But … but … AJ is a genius! In Preller we trust!!! So what if he can only hit .240 with very little power? … he speaks spanish and is a good presence in the club house. Isn’t that alone worth $144 million at the least important/easiest to fill position in all of baseball. Maybe we are the dumb ones. WE are so dumb not to see his brilliance. I say we keep defending AJ’s savvy insight, no matter what happens.

    3. Quotes from and Baseball America pertaining to Alvarez’ defensive position, “Alvarez also has some surprising athleticism for someone his size. He’ll flash above-average speed once he gets going, though it plays more as average and he’ll likely lose a step as he matures physically. He has shown more aptitude in left field than at first base and gets the job done on the outfield corner” and “Alvarez is an above-average runner underway and is a better left fielder than first baseman.”

      Even though the article suggest Alvarez’ future position is 1st base, that may not be the case. The corner outfield spots are full as well, don’t get me wrong, but pigeon holing Alvarez to 1st base may be incorrect. A trade of Renfroe is always possible, one of the few holdovers form the previous regime, which would open the door for Alvarez.

      There is a possible deal, just not Hand for Alvarez straight up.

      1. “some surprising athleticism for someone his size” is more like, damn the dude can run without falling down and creating a crater.
        “He’ll flash above-average speed once he gets going” but don’t get between him and the buffet table. Ocean liners move along pretty well once underway, though little things like stopping and turning are not going to be pretty.
        “gets the job done on the outfield corner”, really? as opposed to can’t catch a damn thing?
        “better left fielder than first baseman.” means holy crap the dude is even worse at 1B.
        No really, Preller has to STOP ACCUMULATING FIRST BASEMEN! How about trying to fill one of the other positions, like, hmm, I dunno, 3B?
        I swear I don’t know who is dumber, Preller who pretty clearly after 4 years does not understand roster construction, or ownership, led by a beer distributor, who extended his contract another 3 years. Kind of a scoreless tie.

          1. Sure. The Yonder Alonso trade was a heist, the flip of Pomeranz to Boston, and the 2nd Kimbrel trade.

        1. No more first basemen? You say that like the system is full of them. Other than Hosmer, Myers in the majors and Naylor in the minors, name other first base prospects coming upthrough the minors.

          1. What was the point of asking the question if you were just going to answer it in the same comment?

      2. He’d be blocked in LF by Wil Myers.
        In any event, again. Yordan Alvarez isn’t enough to get the Astros an impact bullpen lefty like Brad Hand. It’s gonna cost them Tucker or Whitley.

  6. This reads like an Onion article. Top 3 bullpen in the league. Concerns are overblown. Love how the author cites 1 lone blown save by Rondon as a sign team in dire need of help.

    1. The Astros pen may be a “top 3 bullpen”, but it seems as though every writer out there says they need to add a left handed bullpen arm, not just James. In all honesty, even before Giles’ blow up, I would have been concerned going into the playoffs. Giles struggled last post season and adding a “lock down” arm, no matter a lefty or righty, would be helpful in their run for a repeat.

      However, I am not sure if the Padres and Astros line up well for a trade, as the Padres are definately going to be looking for quality over quantity and Tucker and Whitley seem like untouchables. Preller and Co. may be interested in Cionel Perez as they were in the running to sign him during the International spending spree of 2016. Would a trade of Hand for Alvarez and Perez make sense?

      1. No. None of the Astros prospects except Tucker or Whitley are good enough to be the centerpiece in a Hand trade. I’d go with Whitley because he fills more of a need on the Padres than Tucker (who fills more of a need on the Astros).

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