Astros fans woke up this morning to see on the Astros transaction log that Lewis Brinson had been traded last night. Most fans might think who cares, but some will be wondering why. This article is for the latter group. However, there are lessons we can learn about how this Astros front office that may interest everyone.
I said at the trade deadline to pay attention to what teams DO and not what they SAY. This lesson will pervade the rest of this article.
My words from the Lewis Brinson article in March explaining why the team signed him to a minor league deal then still apply today.
When considering why a team does a transaction it is important to understand the context of that deal. By context I mean what were the team's needs and how does the player added fit with the other players on the team.
I have stated several times in articles that I believe James Click likes to provide his manager OPTIONS in the belief that one of the options will emerge as a strong performer.
In March, the Astros had this situation in CF
- Jake Meyers out for an extended period with the shoulder issue
- Jose Siri was a fan favorite with extremely limited experience and a propensity to strike out a ton. Dusty was in love with what he could do in the field which meant he was projected to play a significant amount (even when his batting did not warrant the playing time.)
- Chas McCormick was the the defacto starter for CF despite his manager clearly not wanting to play him in CF. Chas was having a mediocre spring training.
- Were projected to produce the 22nd WAR from CF
- The Astros had prospects on the horizon including Pedro Leon but he was not likely to make an impact with the Astros until 20223.
This is why the Astros bought what I considered a lottery ticket in Lewis Brinson in March of 2022. In April, I really thought Brinson would play at some point.
So far in 2022 Brinson:
- played well in limited at bats in Spring Training
- Hit 0.930 OPS is Sugar Land which was 4th among qualified batters in the PCL
- remained in AAA as an option/ insurance policy if there were catastrophic OF injuries to the Astros.
The Astros also had the following happen in CF this season all before this trade
- Siri was atrocious at the plate in 147 PA (OPS 0.542) and was traded
- Meyers returned from his shoulder issues on 6/24/22 and was atrocious at the plate in 149 PA (OPS 0.557) and was optioned on 8/29/22 to AAA
- McCormick hurt his hand and his manager has clearly doubted his ability to play CF. From 6/22 to 8/13, Dusty started Chas in CF ONCE! I wrote more about this here.
- Leon has been hot and cold but overall while performing well in AAA has not been close to Brinson (0.824 OPS) and it appears the organization thinks he needs another year.
So even with ALL of the CF issues, the Astros never called up Brinson.
There are several other younger OF prospects in the Astros system that the organization has seemingly prioritized over Brinson- Leon, Julks, and Dirden. If McCormick was seriously injured before the postseason, I suspect the Astros would do this
Start Dubon every game and live with his offense- This STILL might be Dusty's plan anyway
Call up Meyers back up and hope the time in AAA fixed him
Call up Leon or Dirden- use the medical waiver rule to add them to the 40-man and postseason roster
Move Tucker to CF and start Mancini in RF?
Call up Brinson- no longer an option with the trade
The point is after having the Brinson option all year and seeing him perform well, Brinson was at best the third option to be brought in for the post season under the scenario where McCormick was unavailable.
If he was not added to the 40-man roster, Brinson was going to be a Minor League free agent after the season.
All this is to say for the Astros, Brinson had limited value because he wasn't going to play in the MLB nor even be added to the 40-man roster. It was time to sell the lottery ticket. Because he was not on a 40-man roster, Brinson COULD be traded still. Mlbtraderumors described this here.
It appears the Astros only got Cash Considerations in this deal. It literally could be they traded Brinson for a dollar. The good news for Brinson is that the Giants have added him to the 40-man AND activated him to their MLB 28-man roster today. The Giants are the ones actually playing the lottery. Did the Astros "fix" Brinson? The Giants will soon find out.
If the Astros did get more than just a dollar, they will have extracted an asset- perhaps something of value in the future- for the investment of letting Brinson serve as an insurance policy for the team this year.
The Astros front office does gain some positive considerations with other player's that are in Brinson's space. If they helped him get better and then let him go to a place where he will get playing time, then other players may sign minor league deals with the Astros in the future.
These are my thoughts about Brinson and what it tells us about the Astros front office. What do you think?
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