Updated: Jul 12, 2022
It is July and three weeks until the trade deadline. There will be mountains of trade proposals and ideas. One critical self assessment step is ask ourselves who the Astros should be willing to trade.
Before I throw these names out there and potentially this gets to the families or even these players themselves, let me say this. Being traded from the Astros organization may be the absolute BEST thing for some of these Astros prospects and even current MLB players. Myles Straw, Abraham Toro, Bryan De La Cruz are all examples of players that have gotten far more playing time with their teams than they would have if they stayed with the Astros.
Here is also the truth. These are MY OPINIONS based on data about value and MY PERCEPTION of who can or will have an opportunity in the MLB. I try to be very clear when I am giving opinions that have less than a mountain of data to back is up. This is one of those times.
Here will be my system for doing this. I have pulled a trade value assigned by the website https://www.baseballtradevalues.com/ . These values are NOT my values. but I believe they are a more objective view of trade value than I or you or any Astros fan can have. What is trade value? Without going into a deep dive into residual value what is being valued is the value of the WAR a player would project to deliver over the period he is UNDER TEAM CONTROL vs. the COST of his contract or projected arbitration cost over that period of team control.
In short, great players that are playing on a long favorable contract or are pre-arbitration players have the highest trade value. For the Astros, Tucker has the highest trade value (136.4). Top Prospects who project to play very well for relatively low pay also have very high trade values. Hunter Brown currently has a 22.7 trade value. If he had 4-6 good MLB starts, that value could quadruple overnight.
Highly paid players past their prime or players that have a poor injury history that have many years to be paid have negative value. They are untradable. Odorizzi (performance- negative 8.6) and McCullers (injury- negative 11.8) have significant negative trade values. They have been paid more than the WAR they are delivering. One might say that isn't true for Odorizzi in 2022, but the nature of trade value is that there is a risk model inherent in this. Values tend to shift quickly for young players when the projections for them shift significantly. Values tend to shift more slowly for veterans with large contracts.
Players whose contract expires this season typically do not have high or low trade values. Gurriel has a 0.1 trade value.
Due to two years of no 1st nor 2nd round draft picks and a relatively low perceived talent base in the minors, the Astros have limited trade value. Multiple years of trading for big name talent with more than one year on their contracts also took some talent from the Astros system.
The Astros also have many players that joined the MLB in the 2015-2019 time frame. A player that was over 18 when drafted or signed in 2019 will be eligible for the Rule 5 in December. Without getting to deep into the weeds, what that means is they are at risk of NOT being under team control if the team does not add them to the 40-man roster. We will write about the 40-man roster another day but understand it this way. The Astros have many prospects that are already on the 40-man with limited value and more that project to not be protected for the Rule 5 draft. These players all can't be counted on for trade value.
Given the Astros situation, when we talk trades; you have ask how much are you willing to pay. You have to be honest with yourself in what is going to make sense for the other teams. For the 2022 Astros, the answer maybe rental players or players under contract for 2023 who are NOT significantly underpaid.
To properly set your expectations, you must answer who are you willing to trade. That is what we will cover for the rest of this article. We have already listed players for First Base/ DH and Catcher that may be viable targets for the Astros. I will soon publish an article on a LHRP trade target or two. As the month ends we will decide if a CF trade is warranted.
BUT who are the Astros willing to give up? Given their 40-man roster situation and their prospects, the team should be willing to trade most of the 23-40 players on their roster. So, lets start with the 40-man roster and compare trade values to our willingness to trade each player.
For the table below sorted by the trade value I have color coded each player.
Shades of Red- Astros should not trade
Shades of Green- Astros should be willing to trade
Shades of Blue- low or negative value- not worth trading
Yellow- Astros should only trade for the perfect deal
No shading- 40-man throw ins to clear spots on the 40 man
Where would you change this ? Please comment below or reach out to me on Twitter or Facebook.
(Editor's note - I initially had Stanek as green. That was a mistake.)
That is the Major League roster trade candidates. Now let's turn our attention to the prospects.
For the prospect list I took a table that Clint the Scout gave me from MLB.com of top Astros prospects and I added the same data from Baseball America and from Fangraphs. I then ranked the synthesized list. This way we are getting more than one voice in who the best prospects really are. Given the ranking we are looking for players that are trade valued beyond what their prospect rank is. These will be the prospects that I shade green. Here is that list.
We can now ue these lists to set up our list of players we are willing to trade when we go shopping for the players that can help the Astros be better in 2022 and 2023.
To get a player the Astros REALLY want, they may HAVE to trade a red shaded player. At least with this strategy the front office can know who they are and are not willing to trade. If I REALLY ran a team, there would be these lists for every team I might trade with and probably all 30 teams.
Please let me know what you think.
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