With the 2021 trade deadline less than two weeks away, front offices around the league are looking for ways to make their teams better. Some teams will make major moves while others will stand pat, believing in the current roster in place. The Houston Astros could be on either side of that statement. Houston is a well-rounded team, so they may not need an extra piece, though one would be useful. On top of this, Astros GM James Click has said the luxury tax may be a factor at the deadline, according to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. With the luxury tax in mind, here are some expensive as well as cheap Astros trade targets ahead of the July 30 deadline.
Expensive Trade Targets
According to Spotrac.com, the Astros current payroll commitments total just over $208.1 million. That leaves them with just under $2 million before they reach the luxury tax. These Astros trade targets would put them well above the threshold, but they may be worth it.
CF Starling Marte
Despite a recent team-wide slump offensively, Houston’s lineup has not been an issue. They still lead baseball with a .265 batting average and 504 runs scored. However, there are ways to improve the lineup. One of those ways is in center field. Myles Straw has improved over the past few weeks, but his OPS still rests at .672 entering Monday. Starling Marte provides a similar skillset to Straw with speed and defense, but with more pop in his bat. The Miami Marlins outfielder has seven home runs in 56 games this season. Marte is making $12.5 million in 2021, but he could be a significant upgrade.
RHP Craig Kimbrel
The biggest weakness of the 2021 Astros has been the bullpen. Houston’s bullpen is middle of the pack in terms of ERA (4.15 entering Monday), which is eighth in the AL. The closer role actually hasn’t been an issue, though, as Ryan Pressly has saved 16 ballgames and has a 1.42 ERA. However, Craig Kimbrel has returned to form with the Chicago Cubs. He has closed out 21 games and has a minuscule 0.53 ERA. The addition of Kimbrel would move Pressly to a seventh or eighth inning role, which could improve the bullpen exponentially. Of course, Kimbrel is owed $16 million this year, but he could be the piece Houston needs to make them a serious World Series contender.
Cheaper Trade Targets
These Astros trade targets could keep them under the threshold and would be a better move concerning the budget.
CF Michael A. Taylor
Kansas City Royals outfielder Michael A. Taylor isn’t going to provide any real premium over Straw, but at the very least, it would be a good depth move. He has eight homers and his 1.3 defensive WAR is fifth in the AL. Also, Taylor has hit .316 with four home runs over 43 career postseason plate appearances. He is making just $1.75 million, which would keep the Astros under the threshold.
RHP Richard Rodriguez
One of the nice stories surrounding the Pittsburgh Pirates has been the success of closer Richard Rodriguez. The 31-year-old has saved 13 games for the last-place Pirates squad, pitching to a 2.65 ERA. He has pitched 37.1 innings but walked only four batters. Astros relievers have had trouble finding the strike zone at times, but Rodriguez has not had this issue. Pittsburgh’s closer is making just $1.7 million this year, making him an affordable option.
It would be hard to stay under the luxury tax for Houston, so if they go over, they may as well get some of the better talent available. That is if they can put together the right package to acquire the talent. If Click is dead set against going over the threshold, there are some cheaper options that can still be effective. Houston may not need to make a move, but they have a number of possibilities if the opportunity presents itself.
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