Since today is Major League Baseball’s yearly trade deadline, you’ll probably be hearing a lot of convoluted and far-fetched trade scenarios by people who claim to be insiders.
Allow me to join in.
The Houston Astros currently sit at 44-64 and aren’t going to be making a playoff push this season. They have a wealth of young players and a bright future, but this isn’t the year for them.
They find themselves sellers at the trade deadline, and as usual, they have plenty of potential trade chips they can use to strengthen what is already one of the best farm systems in baseball.
After all, they’re the Astros, and they listen on pretty much anyone. GM Jeff Luhnow means business.
In fact, Ken Rosenthal recently tweeted that the team is even taking calls about young starter Jarred Cosart.
Sources: #Astros “very, very busy” with calls on Cosart. Have taken Keuchel off the market.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 31, 2014
The 24-year old Cosart was originally acquired from the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade in 2011, which is a deal that looks pretty darn good for the Astros in hindsight.
Cosart has just a 4.41 ERA (4.02 FIP) in 20 starts (116 1/3 innings) for the Astros this season, but he looked dominant at times in his 2013 debut, in which he posted a 1.95 ERA in 10 starts (though it came with a FIP of 4.35). He also has the pedigree of being a former top-100 prospect, and has terrific minor league numbers throughout his career.
He’s only striking out 5.8 batters per nine innings this season (after posting a mark of 5.0 in 2013) and his control could be better (3.9 BB/9 in 2014, 5.3 in 2013), but his minor league strikeout rate is much better (7.8 K/9), while his walk rate improves slightly as well in the minors (3.6).
Cosart has just shy of a full season’s worth of big league starts under his belt, so it’s certainly possible that he could improve as he becomes more familiar with major league hitters.
Granted, that’s somewhat of a risky gamble, but Cosart comes with plenty of upside as well. He’s still young, has shown extended minor league success, and would be under team control through the 2019 season. In other words, he’s a gamble worth taking.
The Astros have a tremendously deep farm system, and it’s anyone’s guess as to what they would want in exchange for Cosart.
However, with recent reports stating that the Astros would be seeking offensive players in a deal, that could make things a bit easier for the Indians if they chose to make a run at Cosart.
Astros getting increased calls about pitching today after they said Monday they'd be willing to move a starter. Goal remains: add offense.
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) July 29, 2014
The Indians don’t have many high-end pitching prospects, but they have plenty of offense, so there could certainly be a fit with Houston. Perhaps the Astros would be interested in a deal including recently-acquired minor league outfielder James Ramsey. That alone likely wouldn’t be enough for the Indians to land Cosart, but it could be a decent starting point. The Indians have plenty of outfield prospects, and clearing the logjam while adding a controllable young starter could be beneficial to the Indians.
Obviously, I’d love to keep Ramsey, and I’m not in any rush to get rid of him. But sometimes you do what you have to do, and the Indians really need starting pitchers — especially cheap ones.
The Indians’ offense has been inconsistent at times, though what team doesn’t have the same problem? The Tribe have a playoff-ready offense, but the pitching needs to step up if the Indians hope to return to the playoffs.
We said the same thing last season before the rotation clicked down the stretch last season, so there’s hope. But sitting back and hoping that happens again isn’t the best way to do business.
Cosart might not necessarily be a difference-maker for the Indians this season, but he would be an intriguing piece for both the present and the future.
The Indians can’t afford to go all-in this season (like the A’s have), especially considering it’s no sure thing that they’ll even make the playoffs in the first place considering they’re currently a game under .500 and face competition from a number of talented teams in the playoff hunt. The Indians can’t afford to trade top prospects for rentals like some teams can.
But Cosart isn’t a rental: adding him would be a long-term move. The Indians need starting pitchers anyway, and getting a young and cheap one like Cosart would be terrific.
Cosart has plenty of upside, and there’s little doubt that Cosart would help the Tribe for years to come.
But he’s also capable of helping them now, making him an even better investment for the Tribe.
The trade deadline is today at 4 pm eastern time. Be sure to stay tuned to Wahoo’s on First for coverage and analysis on today’s moves.