The MLB trade deadline is just a few days away, and while the Astros won’t be in the running for Juan Soto, the reigning American League champs will certainly be aggressive in improving their roster in effort to return to the fall classic.
Deadline Overview and Potential Targets
Positions of Need: 1B, RP, SP, OF
Josh Bell, 1B/DH, Washington Nationals
I mentioned the Astros would not be acquiring Juan Soto, but that does not mean they will not be on the phone with Washington’s front office. The Astros have received little production out of their first basemen this year with Yuli Gurriel experiencing a steep decline in his age 38 season (.234/.287/.384, and 92 WRC+).
Josh Bell will almost certainly be wearing a different jersey come August 3rd due to his expiring contract and his excellent first half of play (.302/.388/.492, a 144 wRC+). Bell has sacrificed some power for fewer strikeouts in 2022 dropping his K% nearly five percent, yet has remained one of the positions best at drawing walks (11.4 BB%). Bell also brings a good bit of lineup versatility with his ability to hit from both sides of the plate. Ken Rosenthal said Bell is a priority for the Astros, and I for one am hoping they can land the big fish.
Trey Mancini, 1B/DH, Baltimore Orioles
It remains to be seen if the Orioles will deal Mancini at this year’s deadline, as their recent hot streak has vaulted them just three games out of a wild card spot. However, if they do decide to deal the 30-year-old slugger the Astros would certainly be interested. Mancini would come at a discounted price compared to Bell and could serve as a viable backup plan if Bell lands elsewhere.
Mancini’s pull percentage sits just under 40%, and has seen his home run numbers fall off after the left field wall at Camden Yards was pushed back 30 feet. He would certainly be a fan of the Crawford Boxes and would serve as another power bat in the postseason, where the team that outhomers its opponent has won 90% of the games since 2020.
Gregory Soto and Andrew Chafin, RP, Detroit Tigers
Despite ranking as the fourth-best bullpen on FanGraphs, the Astros currently employ zero left-handed relievers on their major league roster and will likely look to add multiple arms for the bullpen in anticipation of a lengthy postseason run.
It just so happens that former Astros manager A.J. Hinch has two solid left-handers at his disposal, and will field numerous calls for their services. The Tigers sit 20 games under .500 and should look to cash in on veterans such as Soto and Chafin.
Soto would be difficult to pry away from Detriot given that he is just 27 years old and is not eligible for free agency until 2026. He has been a bright spot for the Tigers in an otherwise tumultuous season posting a 2.56 ERA en route to his second consecutive all-star appearance.
While he might not raise eyebrows to the same degree as Soto, Andrew Chafin might be the arm the Astros desire more from Detroit. Chafin is in the top 90th percentile for a lengthy list of expected statistics and also finds himself posting career highs in Chase Rate (34.8%) and Whiff % (33.9), both of which place him in the upper echelon of the league. Plus Chafin rocks a pretty sweet mustache.
David Peralta, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
(Editor’s Note: Traded to Tampa Bay)
This would not be a seismic addition, but Atlanta showed last year that acquiring power outfield bats is a recipe for success in the postseason.
Calling Peralta a “power bat” might seem odd considering he has only hit 20 home runs in a season once in his career, but the soon-to-be 35-year-old has found a power stroke as he is on pace to smash his career-high in Barrel % (12).
Acquiring Peralta would also give manager Dusty Baker another capable defender, with Peralta recording 4 OAA in over 500 innings of outfield work. It was also noted Peralta worked on his swing with Astros outfielder Michael Brantley in the offseason and his left-handed bat would give increased lineup flexibility.
Luis Castillo, SP, Cinncinatti Reds
(Editor’s Note: Traded to Seattle)
You didn’t seriously think I wasn’t going to have at least one star acquisition, did you?
Simply put Castillo is the best starting arm on the market and he will command a hefty trade package when you tack on his extra year of team control. The Reds are one of the worst teams in the league and would be wise to cash in on Castillo while his value is high. The Astros have proven before they can be aggressive in acquiring front-line starters at the deadline (Hello Justin Verlander) and will have stiff competition for his services.
Through 13 starts Castillo has posted a 3.05 FIP and ERA+ of 166 all while starting half of his games in arguably the league’s most hitter-friendly ballpark. Castillo has elite velocity and movement on all four of his pitches, in particular, his 4-seam fastball and slider have given hitters fits all season as they are posting a combined .217 wOBA against the two.
Houston has also shown to improve the value of numerous starting pitchers in years past (Hello Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton), making it one of the more attractive landing spots for Castillo who will hit free agency in 2023. The list of interested buyers in Castillo is long and will likely turn into an all-out bidding war, the question is how much would the Astros give up?
Any one of these players would be excellent midseason additions, and I expect Houston to make multiple deals before the August 2nd deadline. The Astros have just one world series title despite appearing in the fall classic three times and will use this deadline to increase their chances at capturing ring number two.
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