The first big offseason move for the Houston Astros has finally happened. The Astros sent pitcher Jordan Lyles and outfielder Brandon Barnes to the Colorado Rockies for speedy outfielder Dexter Fowler. The move comes as somewhat of a shock as Barnes was a favorite in Houston, while Lyles had been consistently projected as a future frontline starter.
That being said, the move costs the Astros very little. Lyles never lived up to expectations. He had several streaks of consistency, but with guys like Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer and Brad Peacock headlining the starting rotation while prospects Mark Appel and Mike Foltynewicz are on the way, Lyles really had no place on the team outside from the bullpen, where he was even more ineffective than as a starter. His 5.59 ERA had brief glimpses of improvement, but relapses were always ready and waiting.
Barnes was the bigger piece in the deal. One thing is certain about him: he plays his heart out. It’s his greatest asset. He hit for the cycle in one of the more memorably moments of the Astros’ 2013 season, but aside from that, his .240 average and minor power numbers left much to be desired. There is no doubt that he will be missed in Houston, but with an outfield roaming with the likes of George Springer, Robbie Grossman and L.J. Hoes, Barnes was a fourth outfielder at best.
Fowler has traditionally played center field, so his positioning will provide pressure for Springer, who has been viewed as a shoo-in to start in center field. He has always been an effective leadoff man. It’s hard for Astros fans to forget Fowler’s 2012 campaign in which he terrorized Houston, hitting .458 with two home runs and six RBIs in just 24 at-bats.
Overall, the move continues the Astros and GM Jeff Luhnow‘s history of making positive deals that benefit the club while not costing them too much. Obviously in any deal, something will be lost, but these deals where expendable players are dealt leave a much better taste in fans’ mouths than deals like sending five prospects for Miguel Tejada. It’s a big difference, and soon enough, it will make a big difference.