MLB Trade Rumors: Houston Astros Foolish Not to Trade Jed Lowrie

Benjamin KleinContributor IIIJuly 10, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 09:  Jed Lowrie #4 of the Houston Astros runs the bases after hitting a solo home run in the 9th inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on June 9, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Astros 10-1.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Houston Astros are the worst team in baseball at the All-Star break, sitting 15.5 games behind the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates. Nearly every player on the roster should be trade bait, but Houston won’t deal Jed Lowrie.

Jed Lowrie is the second-best National League shortstop behind Ian Desmond of the Washington Nationals, according to FanGraphs. He still doesn’t have an impressive batting average—hitting just over .250—but has slugged 14 home runs in 78 games.

Lowrie was dealt to Houston in the offseason along with Kyle Weiland by the Boston Red Sox, who picked up reliever Mark Melancon in the trade. The trade allowed Lowrie to play on a regular basis whereas in Boston, injuries plagued his playing time and was mainly used as a platoon infielder.

Lowrie’s increased playing time has allowed him to significantly increase his trade value, but the Astros won’t deal him, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

My question for Houston is, “Why won’t you trade him?”

Just over a week ago, Lowrie was rumored to be a part of a trade that would’ve sent prospects Zach Lee and Garrett Gould to Houston from the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. The rumor never went anywhere and the Astros instead traded slugger Carlos Lee to the Miami Marlins for two prospects.

Clearly it seems as if Houston would send Lowrie packing if the right deal came their way. Why make it known that he isn’t for sale, though?

The Astros already dealt their biggest bat and are rumored to be shopping pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers, says Rosenthal. What’s so special about Lowrie that they feel he needs to be kept? He won’t enter free agency until 2015, but how long will it be until the injury bug bites him again? His trade value will probably not get much higher than it already is.

Houston also has top prospect Jonathan Villar playing for their Double-A affiliate who could be in the majors some time next season. Villar was ranked as Houston’s No. 4 prospect at the end of last season, according to Baseball America, and is hitting .264/.340/.392 with 10 home runs, 47 RBI, 53 runs and 37 stolen bases this season.

The Astros are completely out of the playoff race, have the opportunity to sell high on a player whose future replacement is putting up impressive numbers in the minors and yet, Houston won’t trade him.

Houston is foolish for hanging on to Jed Lowrie and they’ll regret not moving him once he gets injured in a meaningless game in the second half of the season.