The Astros had a very disappointing season in 2011, and their rebuilding process is fully underway. The roster is mostly stocked with younger players but there are still some older veterans that can be dealt for more prospects to rebuild a depleted and bare farm system.
Ed Wade needs to make a great trade if he wants to have any chance to keep his job with the new owner Jim Crane coming in soon (hopefully). After a few big names, the free agent class is relatively weak which gives the Astros a great opportunity to deal off some players and get more for them than they normally would in a strong market.
Here are five possible trades that the Astros can do to bolster both their farm system and their major league team.
David Wright and the Mets are almost in as disappointing a situation as the Astros are. Their franchise face Jose Reyes is about to leave and their next franchise face, third baseman David Wright, is the center of some trade speculations.
It would be a pretty smart decision for the Mets to deal Wright, but it still would be sad for Mets fans to see a great player who has been playing pretty poorly after many solid seasons. The Mets, like the Astros, need to rebuild their farm system so they can contend in a few years. The Astros are in need of a third baseman. The Astros could give the Mets Chris Johnson, Brett Wallace, Paul Clemens, Jason Bourgeois and Angel Sanchez.
This will give the Astros a full-time third baseman, something they desperately need. The Mets will get a possible third baseman and first baseman with possible upside, a solid three or four starter, and some bench players that have shown some great performances in the past.
This is probably not the most likely trade option but both teams could end up happy, but the Astros probably won't want to deal up some more prospects but some of those players would be great to get rid of.
Brett Myers turned in a career season in 2010, which earned him an extension. In 2011, he came back down to earth showing more of the pitcher we thought he was. He had more trade value back in 2010 but in a weak starting pitcher's market, Myers can still garner up some suitors.
Potential playoff teams such as the Tigers, the Yankees, the Twins, and more need a back-of-the-end rotation starter like Myers can fill that position in. I think that the Tigers will pull the trigger on him to fill in the five-slot to replace Brad Penny who failed last season. The Tigers could flip Jose Ortega who has raw ability but has struggled due to recent injuries, and solid hitting center-fielder Jamie Johnson, although the inclusion of Johnson might not happen, but some hitter will be included.
As previously stated, many teams need pitching help to try and make a playoff push. The Twins were a huge disappointment in 2011, battered by injuries and underachieving players. They're going to need to have Justin Mourneau, Joe Mauer, and many more players play to the fullest of their abilities if they wish to contend against the Tigers and the upstart Indians. They will also need some pitchers if they're going to compete for a playoff spot.
Wandy Rodriguez could be a cheap option for the Twins for a middle-of-the rotation starter. They will need to give up strong prospects Liam Hendriks, Alex Wimmers, and reliever Jim Hoey. The Astros probably couldn't get any more than that and they will get a great haul for a pitcher of Rodriguez's only average caliber.
Brandon Lyon pitched terribly in the first two months of the season. I didn't think it was humanly possible for someone to pitch so terribly and still have a full-time job, but he miraculously got injured (thank God).
However, he's supposed to be back next year but hopefully as a setup man, a position in which he's thrived in the past. The Angels were close to catching the Rangers but fizzed out in the last part of the year. With the exception of closer Jordan Walden, the Angels bullpen was unimpressive.
The Angels could be looking for some experience and solid relief pitching, so that's where Brandon Lyon and Aneury Rodriguez come in. The Astros will eat some of Lyon's contract to make it more appealing and in return, the Angels will give up minor league catcher Cole Armstrong to add organizational depth, not a blockbuster deal but something that might give other options than Jason Castro behind the plate.
The Pirates suprised all of baseball when the led the NL Central before the All-Star Break. Although they fell back to earth and finished fourth, they're just a step away from contending and making the playoffs.
They traded for Derek Lee at the deadline to give some veteran leadership and get some solid hitting. They will lose him this offseason to free agency, so they will look to the Astros for a veteran leader who brings a solid bat to the table.
The Astros' Carlos Lee will waive his no-trade clause and offer his talents for Pittsburgh, with Houston eating a lot of his contract. Matt Downs will join him, as Houston will trade him while his value is high. The Pirates will toss back shortstop Gift Ngoepe, catcher Ramon Cabrera, and talented southpaw Colton Cain.
It seems like more than what Carlos Lee and Matt Downs would get, but the Pirates need some hitting help, so they will come begging for Lee and Downs. The Astros will make out well with this trade.
The truth is that the Astros probably won't get too many trades off considering they are a rebuilding team with not many players that other teams would be willing to pay for. Some, if not most, of these trades are highly unlikely to happen, especially with the Astros getting solid prospects at the end. The David Wright trade is impossible, but it gets rid of players that the Mets might bite for and players that I don't want playing for the Astros anymore, except for Clemens. The rest of the trades could happen but are still unlikely. Trades can help continue the Astros rebuilding process and will free up positions for more younger prospects looking for jobs. These trades are an interesting thing to think about.