Astros Trade Rumors Heating Up

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While the Houston Astros are the best team in baseball heading into the trade deadline, don’t expect them to sit idly by. The Astros trade rumors are heating up. They are linked to a number of players when it comes to making moves before the deadline. After the Yankees made their move getting Andrew Benintendi from the Royals, the Astros are expected to be aggressive. Astros owner Jim Crane has given general manager James Click and the team the green light to improve the roster for a run at the 2022 World Series.

Rumor Mill on Josh Bell

Currently, the Astros are linked by several baseball insiders with Washington Nationals‘ first baseman Josh Bell. In comparison numbers-wise with current first baseman Yuli Gurriel, Bell going to the Astros makes a ton of sense. This season with the Nationals, Bell is hitting .302 with 13 homers, 53 RBI, and an OPS of .877. Gurriel’s numbers over the season include a .237 average with seven homers, 27 RBI, and an OPS of .679. As a fielder, Gurriel is slightly better than Bell, but the bat is what the Astros are looking for.

Both Bell and Gurriel are free agents following the season. With the Nationals currently looking for young, controllable prospects, the asking price might not be all that high. A player like infielder Joe Perez and another prospect could be in the cards for what the Nationals might be looking for. In any scenario, look for the Nationals to deal Bell before they deal Juan Soto.

Contreras Could Be in a Package Deal

With Jason Castro slowly recovering from a left knee injury, the Astros could be looking at the possibility of adding a catcher. Most notable targets include Wilson Contreras of the Chicago Cubs and Sean Murphy of the Oakland Athletics. Although most indications are that the club might stay put with Martin Maldonado and Korey Lee. The addition of a better hitting catcher does look more appealing overall, but Maldonado has been a solid player beyond the plate for the Astros.

If the Astros go after Contreras, do not expect them to go after Bell. With Maldonado a solid lock behind the plate, Contreras will likely be utilized at first base, used as a backup to Maldonado, or hit sparingly in a DH role. Both Bell and Contreras are free agents after the 2022 season. Expect negotiations to start rather quickly to get either re-signed to longer deals.

Included in a deal with Contreras, the Astros could also acquire Ian Happ. Happ has a very productive bat and is better defensively in left field than the aging Michael Brantley. Over the last two seasons, the 2022 All-Star has been among the National League’s best in various defensive categories. Happ also has another season of control as he does not become a free agent until after next season.

Taking it a step further, the Cubs might also deal right-handed pitcher David Robertson. With a ton of experience in the playoffs with the Yankees and Rays, Robertson also may be an arm that improves the bullpen even further. Robertson has a 1.83 ERA with 50 strikeouts and 14 saves over 35 appearances with the Cubs this season. Adding Robertson might cost the Astros another prospect or two if they also get Happ and Contreras in the deal, but all indications are that everything is on the table for the Astros in terms of improving the roster.

The Sean Murphy Factor

With Sean Murphy, the Astros might not have to give up a whole lot. Murphy’s numbers are not as good as Contreras’s but fall in line with that of Maldonado. The key in Murphy’s situation is control. His free agent status does not come into effect until after the 2025 season. Defensively, Murphy is one of baseball’s best. He is second among American League catchers in assists and won the AL Glove Glove in 2021.

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Players Mentioned:

Andrew Benintendi, Josh Bell, Yuli Gurriel, Yuli Gurriel, Joe Perez, Juan Soto, Jason Castro, Sean Murphy, Martin Maldonado, Korey Lee, Michael Brantley, Ian Happ, David Robertson