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The Verlander/ Marte and Trade Plan for the Astros

Updated: Dec 2, 2021

Update 11/27/21- Unfortunately, the Marte plan is dead. Marte signed a FOUR year deal for $78M. I try to offer plans that are realistic to you folks. It is not a surprise that Marte WANTED four years. It is surprising to me that any team would give a 33-yr old OF for whom a significant part of his value is dependent on his speed four years. The Mets are racking up multiple foolish contracts. We will see how it works out for them.

This is the modified Marte and Trade Plan that is in the Off-Season Guide now that the Astros have signed Verlander for $25M/yr. For all of the options consult the Off-season guide. In this article we will focus on a single LarryTheGM endorsed option.

Verlander is coming back!! Wait, that wasn't in the Marte and Trade Plan. Have no fear Astros fans, even when the front office doesn't listen to me; I am here to analyze what they do and adjust my plans to theirs.

Welcome to the Verlander/ Marte and Trade Plan!

You DEFINITELY should check out what Joshua the AT thinks we can expect from JV in 2022 here.

Multiple reports have linked the Astros as having interest in Starling Marte who is a top 10 CF with a 3.0-3.1 projected WAR. You may ask don't the Astros already have multiple CFs in Meyers, McCormick, Siri, and Leon in AAA.

  • Meyers may be out to mid-season recovering from his shoulder surgery

  • McCormick is probably better suited as a fourth OF with flexibility to play in RF/LF which are more natural positions for him. Projection systems indicate McCormick to be a below average hitter and part time player. He has surpassed all projections so far and I personally believe in him beyond that. I think if the Astros DO sign Marte that McCormick is a great trade asset for a team willing to let Chas play everyday.

  • It is way too small of a sample size on Siri to trust he will be a full time MLB player

  • Scouts do not have consensus on the ceiling for Leon and it is unlikely the Astros would want to turn over CF to a rookie again in 2022.

Therefore, yes, signing Marte makes sense for the Astros to improve CF performance in 2022. Beyond 2022, Brantley will be a free agent after this season.

The Modified Verlander/ Marte and Trade plan includes

  • Signing Justin Verlander - SP - Done

  • Signing Starling Marte - CF

  • Signing Andrew Chafin - RP

This would add 4.2 WAR, and would be projected to cost $50.00M. This is the first part of what I would call the Marte Plan.

BUT I would not be done. If the Astros want to fill most of their remaining gaps with trades, here are some official Larry the GM recommendations with actual proposed trades.

Trade #1

Jacob Stallings (C) and PTBLN from Pittsburgh for McCormick, Castro, J.J. Matijevic, and Jojanse Torres and Cash

Why the Astros do this deal

  • Stallings is the NL Gold Glove winner at Catcher, 95 wRC+ with REVERSE splits (112 RHP/ 63 LHP) in 2021, projected 2.3 WAR starting catcher, Maldonado can go to the back up role/ part time pitching coach, not a FA until 2025

  • PTBNL- Blake Weiman (AAA LHRP) if he passes through Rule 5 draft- 26 yr old just add another LHRP to the Astros organization and see if he develops

  • McCormick would be blocked by Brantley, Marte, and Tucker. Siri and Diaz can cover 4th OF role until Meyers returns

  • Matijevic (1B/OF AAA) and Torres (SP/RP AAA) are both Rule 5 eligible- both could be developmental depth for the Pirates

  • Castro is depth with both Stallings and Maldonado and could be part-time starter in Pittsburgh- owed $3.5M in 2021

Why Pittsburgh does this deal (go back to the heat map in the off-season guide to understand team strengths and needs)

  • Stalling will be in his age 32 season and does not have a ton of experience, he is now Arbitration eligible- projected Arb settlement- $2.6M in 2022 and up in future years

  • McCormick could start in LF or RF for the Pirates- might develop beyond current projections, Pre-Arb until 2024 season

  • Matijevic (1B/OF AAA) and Torres (SP/RP AAA) - both could develop and play in Pittsburgh in 2022 or 2023

  • Castro could be part-time starter in Pittsburgh

  • Cash- $1M to pay the difference in salaries Castro vs. Stallings

Reality check for this trade

The Pirates should be willing to do this deal.

Trade #2

Taylor Rogers (RHRP) for Colin Barber, Joe Perez, and Tyler Ivey (I made this deal a little better for the Twins from the original)

Why the Astros do this deal

  • Rogers (LHRP has been an EXCELLENT RP and would be a premium LHRP for the Astros, Projected 1.7 WAR (FG Depth Chart) Closer/ RP

  • Barber (A+ OF- #6 Fangraphs #20 Baseball America and #7 Astros prospect)- this one hurts a little and is the prize for the Twins but you have to give something to get something.

  • Perez (AA 3B/1B- #9 and #6 Baseball America Astros prospect)- is on the bubble as Rule 5 eligible

  • Ivey (RHSP- #8 Fangraphs, #10 Baseball America and #12 Astros prospect) appeared in MLB got injured and appeared in September in AAA is on the 40-man and blocked by other pitching

Why Minnesota does this deal (go back to the heat map in the offseason guide to understand team strengths and needs)

  • Rogers has only one year left of control. The Twins would also save the $6.7M projected arbitration salary

  • Barber has the potential to be a future starting OF- ETA 2024

  • Perez fills a potential need at 1B 2022/2023

  • Ivey option as SP in 2022

Reality Check for this Trade

The Twins should be willing to do this trade

There was a Trade #3 in the original plan but it gets cut due to the higher AAV for Verlander vs. the original plan to sign Gray.

What does it all mean?

The Astros are at a crossroads. There are two groups of options

Option 1- The Correa Plan

  1. Re-sign Correa - $288M/ 9 yr - net 3.2 WAR

  2. Re-sign Verlander - $50M/ 2 yr - net 2.1 WAR

  3. Sign Chafin - $10M/ 2 yr - net 0.3 WAR

  4. Total - $62M AAV

  5. War Improvement (Hit 3.2/ SP 1.2/ RP 1.2) Overall 5.6

Option 2- The Verlander/ Marte and Trade Plan (The Marte Plan PLUS Trades)

  1. Sign Marte - $60M/ 3 yr - net 1.8 WAR

  2. Re-sign Verlander - $50M/ 2 yr - net 2.1 WAR

  3. Sign Chafin - $10M/ 2 yr - net 0.3 WAR

  4. Trade for Stallings - net neutral AAV - net 1.1 WAR

  5. Trade for Rogers - net $6.7M AAV - net 1.7 WAR

  6. Total - $56.7M AAV

  7. War Improvement (Hit 2.9/ SP 1.2/ RP 2.9) Overall 7.0

Impact of the Verlander/Marte and Trade Plan

Let's do this step by step

After signing Verlander

After Signing Marte

After signing Chafin and Trading for Rogers

After Trading for Stallings

Will the Astros actually add a starting Catcher to address the WAR gap at catcher? Probably not, but here at LarryTheGM we provide what they SHOULD do until they do what they WILL do. After they execute their plan we can compare it to mine.

Notice the massive improvements at Catcher, Center Field, Starting Pitching and Relief Pitching. This plan will require Diaz and Pena to cover SS. If that is an issue, support will have to come from within or at the July trade deadline.

So how is this plan different from the Gray and DeJong version in the off-season guide? The SP did not improve as much in that plan and the SS improved more. Therefore, the net WAR increase of 7.3 is about the same. The cost of the original plan was $52M AAV, and the cost of this plan is $56.7M AAV.

To be clear this plan makes the 2022 Astros (49.6 WAR) close but not better than the 2021 Astros (50.8 WAR) BUT it does make the THE NUMBER ONE projected WAR!

Losing Correa and the others is just that hard. when comparing to the 2021 actual WAR. This plan does address several significant weaknesses the team currently has.

We will take it.

Ask me about your plan. I will run the numbers.

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