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Real Astros Trade Targets That Dusty Would Play

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

Last year, the Astros front office assessed their otherwise EXCELLENT team needed to improve in three areas: catcher, first base, and a LHRP. The front office traded for all three by investing limited prospect capital.


Upon arrival of the two hitters- Mancini and Vazquez, Dusty Baker said he might work them in, and pinch hit them. It was a slap in the face.

Mancini and Vazquez usage

Yes, Maldy was on the roller coaster ride late and having a hot streak while playing with multiple injuries (why?). We know that the roller coaster never lasts. Why not rest both Gurriel (who was struggling) and Maldy, and let the two new acquisitions play to their normal usage?


You may disagree with that. Some that I respect do. But here is the thing we should ALL agree on- Dusty Baker is loyal and VERY resistant to change. If Dusty has one fatal flaw it is that he will stick with his players way too long and this same argument has happened multiple times in Dusty's career.


The point is whomever Dana Brown trades for MUST be an undeniable upgrade even for Dusty. What does that mean?


Let's consider the trade position possibilities. The Astros are NOT trading for 2B, SS, 3B, nor RF. Alvarez's and Brantley's health situations may determine if LF/DH is in the mix or not but the player they get should be capable of that. So, this leaves C, 1B/DH, and an OF/DH.


So, what does an upgrade that Dusty will be willing to play look like? I think they need to be about a 20 wRC+ BETTER hitter over 2022-2023 seasons than the players in those positions as starters.


For calibration last year addressing the preamble up front.


Mancini (2021-7/31/22) 109 wRC+ OR 4/7/22-7/31/22 97 wRC+

Gurriel (2021-7/31/22) 118 wRC+ OR 4/7/22-7/31/22 95 wRC+

Gurriel had gotten hot in June and July (his normal career arc). The worry was what would he do in late in the season.

If we apply this rule, then we understand Dusty was not going to play Mancini.


Vazquez (2021-7/31/22) 90 wRC+ OR 4/7/22-7/31/22 110 wRC+

Maldonado (2021-7/31/22) 63 wRC+ OR 4/7/22-7/31/22 65 wRC+

This should have been a no brainer right? Except in July Maldy was on the roller coaster and his wRC+ in 7/2022 was 141.


Having this calibration shows how hard it will be to convince loyal Dusty to play an acquisition.


Let's go position by position and see what the 20 wRC+ rule nets us. We are going to exclude the obvious contending teams.


Catcher

Maldonado (2022/2023) 66 wRC+

Diaz (2022/2023) 97 wRC+ only 101 PA


This team is NOT acquiring catching help. They SHOULD test Diaz by playing him more.


The ONLY catcher I can see as the significant upgrade would be Salvador Perez. Perez is hitting 114 wRC+ this year and 110 wRC+ since opening day 2022. The issue is Perez has been the second worst fielding catcher since 2022. Dusty is not playing a bad fielding catcher. The only way it would work would be to send Maldonado in the trade. Perez's $20.5 AAV contract through the 2025 season is an issue.


1B/ DH

Abreu (2022/2023) 115 wRC+

Diaz (2022/2023) 97 wRC+ only 101 PA


Right now, you are screaming Abreu is NOT a 115 wRC+ hitter. He is at 57 wRC+ in 2023. I understand but I think if a 1B is not at ~130+ wRC+ over the last season and a half, Dusty is not playing him.


Who is in the 130+ wRC+ 1B group?

- Ryan Noda- Oakland- 151 wRC+

- LaMonte Wade Jr.- San Francisco- 118 wRC+ I added him because his name keeps coming us.


Wow that is a small list.


OF/ DH

McCormick (2022/2023) 112 wRC+

Meyers (2022/2023) 89 wRC+ and (2023) 109 wRC+

Julks (2022/2023) 86 wRC+

Brantley (2022/2023) 127 wRC+

Alvarez (2022/2023) 180 wRC+


Whether Brantley is available or not may determine the viability of an OF target. First, I think Dusty likes playing Meyers and this franchise would ignore his 2022 stats due to injury. I therefore think the viability target for the OF is at a similar 130 wRC+.


Who is in the 130+ wRC+ OF group?

- Brent Rooker- Oakland - 128 wRC+

- Eloy Jimenez- White Sox- 131 wRC+

- Joc Pederson- San Francisco- 146 wRC+


Summary


Folks, therefore, these six are on my short list of trade targets that Dusty might actually play. I added the age, bat handedness, BaseballTradeValues.com trade value for these.

- Ryan Noda- Oakland- 151 wRC+, 27 yrs old, LHH, 6.4

- LaMonte Wade Jr.- San Francisco- 118 wRC+, 29 yrs old, LHH, 0.7

- Brent Rooker- Oakland - 128 wRC+, 28 yrs old, RHH, 14.8

- Eloy Jimenez- White Sox- 131 wRC+, 26 yrs old, RHH, -7.9

- Joc Pederson- San Francisco- 146 wRC+, 31 yrs old, LHH, -5.4


Next Time we will deep dive into what viable deals might be. There will be no wild proposals this time.


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