The Houston Astros recently concluded a weekend series against the Texas Rangers and now hold the best record in the entire American League (as well as the second-best record in MLB). Still, two division-mates are within seven games of Houston, so the Astros will certainly look to make some upgrades ahead of the trade deadline in order to solidify their rank atop the AL West pecking order.
Make sure to check out all of our other Trade Deadline Previews.
Rank: First in AL West (tied for first in AL)
Like most contenders, the Astros’ biggest need is an upgrade to their bullpen. However, with Houston likely not looking to spend big money or part with major prospects, their market could be limited. More importantly, they could find themselves being outbid by more aggressive contenders. It’s clear they’ll make a move for a reliever, but the magnitude of any potential deal could be limited. Meanwhile, catching remains an area of discussion for the Astros. Martin Maldonado has been great behind the dish, and Jason Castro has been serviceable as a backup. Still, an upgrade at the position could at least give them a platoon option that they trust down the stretch.
Richard Rodriguez, Relief Pitcher, Pittsburgh Pirates
It seems like Rodriguez has been linked to almost every contender, but that makes sense considering bullpen additions are critical at the trade deadline. Through 37 outings this year, the 31-year-old has a 2.82 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 22.8 percent strikeout rate, and 3.4 percent walk rate. He ranks among the 91st percentile or better in xwOBA, xERA, and fastball spin. Meanwhile, his walk rate is better than 99 percent of pitchers in baseball. He’d also be both affordable and controllable for the Astros; he’s making just $1.7 million this season and is under team control through 2023.
Yan Gomes, Catcher, Washington Nationals
Martin Maldonado has been exceptional defensively, but his offensive production has been quite shaky. Gomes would provide a platoon option with a better bat, though he’s not quite as good behind the plate as Maldonado. Through 61 games, the former All-Star is slashing .266/.320/.439 with a .288 xBA, 19.9 percent strikeout rate, and 5.6 percent walk rate. Defensively, he ranks in the 27th percentile in terms of pitch framing. The 34-year-old has amassed -1.5 oWAR and 3.9 dWAR this season. Currently on the injured list, he’s making $6 million this year and becomes a free agent at the end of the season.
Willson Contreras, Catcher, Chicago Cubs
Contreras is another platoon catching option for the Astros. While it remains to be seen if the Cubs, who are sellers this year, will part with Contreras, he certainly fits a need for Houston. Through 89 games, the two-time All-Star is slashing .237/.351/.431 with 15 homers, a 26.3 percent strikeout rate, and 11.7 percent walk rate. His maximum exit velocity of 115.4 mph ranks in the 96th percentile. Meanwhile, his walk and hard-hit rates both align in the 82nd percentile. Defensively, he is a better pitch framer than 63 percent of catchers. He’s posted 3.1 oWAR and 6.0 dWAR, making him an above-average player in both facets of the game. His 2.0 fWAR this year rank as the seventh-most in all of MLB.
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