I was thinking last night about all the players that have been dealt this Summer by the Houston Astros and the number is pretty staggering: Carlos Lee, J.A. Happ, David Carpenter, Brandon Lyon, Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, and Chris Johnson.
Of course, with the exception of Carpenter, all were players who were moved because they didn’t fit in the team’s long-term vision. They might’ve been free agents at the end of the season, projected to get more expensive next season, or were blocking someone the team felt was an better option.
With that in mind, I looked at nine other players who could still be dealt before the end of the trade deadline tomorrow (July 31st) or during the month of August (the last month of the waiver wire, before playoff rosters are set).
Here are the names I came up with:
Mike Hessman (AAA) – Infield
Hessman, a minor league journeyman, is a having a very good year in AAA after a disappointing 2011 detour in Japan. In 92 games this year, one in which he was named to the PCL All-Star team, he’s hit 27 home runs and has a .544 slugging percentage. The 34 year old doesn’t appear to have any future with Houston, with GM Jeff Luhnow essentially saying as much last month. Additionally, if Houston uses 3B Matt Dominguez and 1B Brett Wallace at the corner infield positions, Hessman would appear to be blocked.
Still, it’s safe to assume Hessman has a future with someone, considering his powerful bat and the fact he won’t cost very much in terms of a trade return.
Francisco Cordero – Relief Pitcher
The 37 year old, and previous 3 time all star, is seemingly on the last legs of a career. He came to Houston earlier in July as part of a 10 player trade with Toronto. His 5.77 ERA with Toronto was bad, but his 18 ERA with Houston has been even worse and he blew two saves. Of course, you can’t put a price on veteran experience and Cordero’s 329 active saves is second only to Mariano Rivera. He’s also still generating strikeouts when he’s not getting touched up for hits. If he can regain form, he could be an attractive buy-low candidate during the waiver wire period.
Brian Bogusevic – Outfield
Bogusevic, the Astros 2005 1st round draft choice, has had success converting from pitcher to position player, but has failed to impress during his short time in Houston. He’s also an out of options player, so the team could be forced to release or pass him through waivers if he’s kept on the roster. A contender might be interested in Bogusevic for the variety of skills he brings to the table: He’s a decent defender who can play all the outfield positions and sports a cannon arm. Pinch hitting is one of his specialties (with a .316 career avg) and he has some power potential, too. He’s out of options, but still pre-arbitration eligible until 2014.
Jordan Schafer – Outfield
Jordancame to Houstonlast summer as part of the Michael Bourn deal with Atlanta. The former first round draft pick had a fantastic April getting base hits and walks at an excellent clip, but has fallen off dramatically as the summer has progressed, currently sporting a .225 avg. with a .310 OBP. He was benched earlier in the month by skipper Brad Mills for throwing to the wrong base and failing to hustle on plays.
Like Bogusevic, Schafer is an out of options player who profiles more as a stop-gap until the wave of talent in the minors arrives. Interested teams might look at him as a late inning defensive replacement (who can play all outfield positions) and a pinch runner who’s 25 for 33 in stolen base opportunities. He’s pre-arbitration eligible until 2014.
Matt Downs – Infield/Outfield
Downs came to Houstonas a waiver-wire claim in 2010. He’s yet to really find a home at any one position, which may work to his advantage for teams looking to add a utility fielder. He hasn’t hit much for average this year (he currently sits at .206), but has the ability to hit for some power, particularly in pinch-hit situations. Downs is making the league minimum and is not due for a raise until 2014.
Ben Francisco – Outfield
Francisco was another returning part of the July 10 player trade with the Blue Jays. You may remember him as a late-inning defensive replacement for multiple Philadelphia Phillies playoff teams, where he played from 2009-2011. An interested team would likely be looking at him for a similar-type of role. Francisco has played in a limited number of games this season due to injury, but seems healthy again. He has the ability to draw the occasional walk and also hit for power—particularly off lefties where he sports a .274 career avg. He makes $1.5 million this season and has another season of arbitration eligibility before becoming a free agent in 2014.
Justin Maxwell – Outfield
“JMax” was a waiver-wire pickup from the Yankees in late spring 2012. He hit a two-run home run in his first at-bat with the Astros, but has cooled off a bit as the season has progressed and as he’s gotten more regular playing time. He hits lefties particularly well, with a career average 30 points higher than righties. He tends to strike out a lot, so he’s probably best used as a situational hitter or late-inning defensive replacement. Like many of the other players on this list, he’s an out of options player who’s not yet arbitration eligible until 2014.
Jimmy Paredes (AAA) – Infield
Paredes came to Houstonvia the Lance Berkman trade with the Yankees in 2010. He’s a somewhat raw, but toolsy player who doesn’t walk a whole lot. He’s a good defender, showing versatility and a strong arm, and can hit for power. Paredes is only 23, and isn’t out of options, so why include him on this list? He’s hit good enough for a call up (with a.323 avg. and 11 home runs in 2012), but the Astros don’t have a place for him in an already crowded infield. The team mentioned a possible switch to outfield, but Paredes has yet to play an inning there this year. Jimmy would likely command a high price and a high return, so is less likely than others to be dealt.
Wilton Lopez – Relief Pitcher
Wiltonhas been one of the best relief pitchers for the Astros in 2011 and 2012, sporting a 2.79 and 2.54 ERA respectively. With teams in the playoff hunt always looking for controllable young arms, GM Jeff Luhnow has likely already fielded a few calls about Lopez. His strikeouts per nine in 2012 are 7.1 while his walks are only 1.1 and, in 39 IP, he’s struck out 31 batters. Wilton will be arbitration eligible for this first time in 2013, but will be under control until 2016. Like Paredes, his price tag could be more expensive than many teams are willing to pay.