With the trade deadline eleven days away, the Houston Astros have begun to turn MLB rumors into reality as they shed components of their roster as they look to rebuild and move to the American League West next season. The Astros made a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays today that saw pitchers J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon, and David Carpenter head to Toronto in exchange for Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco, and four minor leaguers, right-handed pitchers Joe Musgrove and Asher Wojciechowski, left-handed pitcher David Rollins, catcher Carlos Perez and a player to be named later. However, the Astros still have some valuable pieces that could bolster the roster of any contender.
The Astros have made two trades already, first sending Carlos Lee to the Miami Marlins and now with the Blue Jays. More deals are almost certain to come. The Astros have made it clear that closer Brett Myers is available, as is left-handed starter Wandy Rodriguez. I am sure they will also put Francisco Cordero on the market and will entertain offers for almost everyone on the roster.
Rodriguez started the season off well after he posted a 2.14 ERA in his first ten starts, going 4-4 in that span. However, in his last ten starts, he has compiled a 5.56 ERA and has gone from 4-4 to 7-8 on the year. This would be a concern to any contender trying to acquire him. The New York Yankees, for example, kicked the tires on Rodriguez last season around the deadline but were scared off by his contract and the fact that they were unsure how his stuff would play out in the AL East. The 33 year-old lefty, is owed $10 million this season and $13 million next year with a team option for another $13 million in 2014 that becomes a player option if he is dealt. That is a potential $26 million investment on a pitcher that has seen only moderate success in his career.
I expect the Astros to aggressively shop Rodriguez but I think he ultimately stays in Houston for now while the Astros get deals done for their available bullpen pieces and perhaps a position player or two. First/third baseman Chris Johnson might be attractive to a team in need of help at either position, like the Los Angeles Dodgers. Infielder Jed Lowrie would have commanded some attention but he injured his leg and is out 4-6 weeks.
The Astros are sure to keep the MLB rumors flowing as they rebuild. The only question is, can they get someone to take a couple of contracts off their hands while still getting something useful in return?