Prospects Could Be Playing Their Way Into Trade Talks
At this point in the offseason, we all know what players the White Sox would want in a Quintana trade. It is the same package that trade talks for any top of the rotation starter would start with: Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker, and Joe Musgrove. To this point, and for good reason, the Astros have balked at the White Sox insistence of those three players in a deal, but could strong spring trainings from a handful of other players add new names to trade discussions? Unless you are Jeff Luhnow, we may never know the answer to this, but there are certainly a few who have played well this spring, and if they continue to play well as the season starts, may move their way into trade talks.
Derek Fisher sits as the 4th ranked prospect by MLBPipeline.com for the Astros. Last year, at two different levels, he hit .255/.367/.448 with 21 HR, 76 RBI, 71 runs, and 28 stolen bases. This spring, he has only solidified his strong play on the field. Fisher has batted .294/.405/.471 this spring with 1 HR, 8 RBI, 8 runs, and a whopping 10 stolen bases. A.J. Hinch said, “Fisher and J.D. Davis were the two guys who have probably taken the biggest leap forward when it comes to how comfortable they are at this level.” With Fisher being blocked by George Springer, Josh Reddick, Carlos Beltran, and Nori Aoki, the Astros might be willing to discuss his name in possible trade talks. And after the spring he has had, other teams may be a little more inclined to include his name as well.
Just like Fisher, Hinch said that J.D. Davis has made huge strides this offseason and, just like Fisher, he may have played well enough to be brought up in trade talks. J.D. Davis is the Astros 13th ranked prospect according to MLBPipeline.com. Like Fisher, he is blocked at the major league level as he is not going to supplant Alex Bregman at third base. Unfortunately, with the strength of our Triple A lineup, he may be blocked from playing third there, too. With Colin Moran at third, reports have indicated the Astros may have him work a little at first and in the outfield this season. After a solid season last year at double-A, Corpus Christi, where he hit .268/.334/.485 with 23 HR and 81 RBI, Davis has continued showing off his talents this spring hitting .350/.413/.475 with 1 HR, 6 RBI and 7 runs scored. With players like Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, and Colin Moran in his way at third base, he may be a player the Astros are willing to include in any trade for a starter.
Colin Moran is also blocked at third base by Alex Bregman, but he has not let this discourage him as he has come out and played some good ball over the last month. This spring, Moran has hit .389/.439/.611 with 2 HR, 10 RBI, and 6 runs scored. It was nice to see Moran hit well this spring after having mixed results both at Triple-A Fresno (.259/.329/.368, 10 HR, 69 RBI) and during his debut with the Astros last year (.130/.200/.174, 0 HR, 2 RBI). Acquired in the Jarred Cosart trade, Moran fell to 25th on the Astros top 30 prospects, but at 24, he still may be able to be a productive major league player. In what might be a make or break year, Moran’s spring has been a good start, and if it continues at Fresno, the Astros might try to use a strong start to include him in a trade package.
Is he a bust or is he Anthony Rizzo 2.0? After a woeful first season with the Astros, where he only hit .164/.270/.262 with 3 HR, 8 RBI and 11 runs, too many people have written him off as a bust; however, history has shown that sometimes the second time around can be significantly better (see Anthony Rizzo and this article). He has started the 2017 season on a high note with a good showing in spring training. Reed hit .306/.444/.667 with 4 HR and 11 RBI in 36 at bats this spring with the big club. His 9 walks vs. 10 k’s were also encouraging after he struck out a disappointing 48 times (with only 18 walks) last year in 122 at bats. Of the four mentioned in this article, Reed might have the clearest path to the Astros as he could work both as a platoon option with Yuli Gurriel and in the DH role. With the investment in Gurriel, though, and other options like Tyler White available, the Astros could very well use Reed’s strong spring to their advantage in trade talks. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that Reed was a consensus top 100 player and he is still only 23 years old.
So let me ask you Astros fans, would you be willing to part with any of these players in a trade for a starting pitcher? They may not headline a package, but they could all be useful pieces to get a trade done. If it meant not having to give up all three of Martes, Tucker and Musgrove, I know I would.
**Photo Credit: Kiel Maddox**