Sean Pendergast

Ranking the Current Houston Astros as Possible Trade Deadline Assets

If the Astros falter and go into "seller" mode, trading Framber Valdez should be discussed.
If the Astros falter and go into "seller" mode, trading Framber Valdez should be discussed. Photo by Jack Gorman
The Houston Astros just completed their most impressive series of the 2024 season, outscoring the Baltimore Orioles 27-13 in a three-game sweep. That series brings the Astros record back close to .500, at 38-40, and elevates them to within six games of the Seattle Mariners in the AL West Standings. The fact that the Orioles are the second best team in the American League is icing on the cake.

The Astros have gone on a little run here, winning five in a row, three of them against an elite team like the Orioles. The feelings of Astro fans have done a 180 degree flip since the Astros were shut out by the White Sox to kick off last week's series in Chicago. If you don't believe me, look at the poll below, from last Wednesday, where 68 percent of you were ready to tear things down:
Fast forward to Monday morning, and now barely more than 20 percent of you still feel that way:

Hey, I'm not here to judge. This is the life of a fan, especially a fan of a team as schizophrenic as the 2024 Houston Astros. One week, you're ready to sell everything, and the next week, you've got your gangster roll out and you're ready to buy, buy, BUY!

So, with that said, the purpose of this post is not to dampen the positivity we all feel coming off of the weekend. The purpose of this post is to serve as a reminder that, with this team, we are five bad days away from flipping back to SELL mode, so I would suggest that you not only read this post, but bookmark it as a reference, if indeed feelings flip back to angry.

Whereas, many Astro fans have their shopping list out for pitching help and a first baseman, I will, as a precaution, sort the Astros current players into tiers, based on the quality of a return they'd command, if the Astros decided they had to go into "sell" mode. Also, I will categorize them in a language that is very understandable -- menu items at an upscale steakhouse, with the pricier cuts of meet commanding the higher price (i.e. more minor league prospects!). Here we go:

THE MENU at JIM CRANE STEAKHOUSE

Wagyu beef – KYLE TUCKER
The wagyu beef is typically the most expensive cut at a good steakhouse, always noticeably more expensive than your more conventional great-but-not-wagyu-level cuts. That's Tucker, who still has a year's worth of team control left on his contract after 2024, and who was performing at an MVP level before fouling a ball off his shin back on June 3. If the Astros dare to move Tucker, not the worst idea since he's probably gone after 2025, he should bring back at least three, maybe four good prospects in return.

48 ounce Porterhouse – FRAMBER VALDEZ
Valdez is in the same contractual situation as Tucker, one more arbitration year left after 2024, and of late, Valdez has looked more like the version of himself that was set to start the All Star Game a year ago. Pitching is always at a premium, and Valdez would command close to what the Astros might look for in a Tucker trade.

16 ounce New York strip – ALEX BREGMAN, JUSTIN VERLANDER (if healthy)
Bregman and Verlander are both great players with slight dings on them that detract from their trade value. For Bregman, it's his contract, which expires after this season. He would be a true rental, albeit one that has outstanding playoff experience. For Verlander, he is on his second IL stint as we speak, so it's tough to rely on a guy who is 41 with a spotty injury history. Also, Verlander has a "no trade" clause, so he would have to approve whichever destination the Astros send him to.

Shrimp cocktail – every bullpen arm (even you, JOSH HADER)
There should be no bullpen arms off limits, should the Astros go into "seller" mode. Again, if they are contending, then I wouldn't trade ANY of these guys. However, if the Astros fall out of the race, even Hader, whose value is probably dulled somewhat by his exorbitant contract, should be a discussion point.

Fried calamari – JAKE MEYERS, CHAS McCORMICK, MAURICIO DUBON
These three are guys who might get you a mid level prospect, although Dubon's positional versatility probably should put him in the "fried calamari with a side of grilled octopus" (Delicious! You should try it!) category.

OFF THE MENU – YORDAN ALVAREZ, HUNTER BROWN, JOSE ALTUVE, JEREMY PENA, YAINER DIAZ
These are the five "untouchable" players on the Astros. If you're an opposing GM, you can try to order "off the menu," but chances are you're going to get snubbed, and these items are not available for consumption. Alvarez is one of the best hitters in baseball, and is on a team friendly deal through 2028. Hunter Brown has been one of the best pitchers in the AL over the last month or so, and at his cheap salary, is the type of player you're trying to ACQUIRE in one of these deals. Ditto Pena and Diaz, two young, productive players, who haven't even hit arbitration yet. Finally, Altuve is a franchise legend, with a no trade clause, who wants to finish his career as an Astro. These five are off limits.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast, on Instagram at instagram.com/sean.pendergast, and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast