Astros Rumors: Could Michael Bourn Make Sense In Atlanta?

Rounding up Astros trade and player rumors in advance of the MLB Trade Deadline.

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Astros Rumors: Heyman Speculates On Astros Available At The Deadline

Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman put together a list of the top 10 position players who could be available at the deadline. In a sign that this is a really weak trading deadline for hitters, the Astros have three of the top 10: Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence, and Jeff Keppinger. Heyman is skeptical that they’ll move Pence, but with Bourn hiring Scott Boras recently, he appears to be pretty available:

4. Michael Bourn, Astros CF. A tremendous defensive centerfielder with as much speed as anyone in the game (he leads the NL with 29 stolen bases), it’s something of a surprise the Astros are listening at all. But word is, they are. Their one concern, apparently, is trouble with lefthanded pitching (his OPS vs. lefties is only .544 this year compared to .737 overall). The Braves could use speed in the outfield, though Jordan Schafer has looked a bit better in recent weeks.

9. Hunter Pence, Astros OF. The sense is Houston wants to hold onto him even if it isn’t thrilled Pence beat them in arbitration for $6.9 million this winter. Pence is not only having a big year (.321, 51 RBIs) but is seen as someone who provides a great example of how to play the game for a team in transition.

10. Jeff Keppinger, Astros INF. The versatile player has hovered around .300 (he’s at .302 now) and could be a useful man for a contender.

A trade with the Braves built around the basic idea of Bourn for Schafer could make some sense for the Astros if we could time-travel Schafer back into 2008, when he was actually hitting. Regardless, the Braves have a ton of near-MLB ready arms and could likely part with one along the lines of Julio Teheran or Mike Minor if they found Bourn a necessary upgrade.

Bourn has one more year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.

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Reports: Astros Want To Deal Myers, Keppinger; Yankees Interested In Rodriguez

According to MLB.com's BIll Ladson, the Astros are looking to trade right-handed starter Brett Myers and infielder Jeff Keppinger at the trade deadline. Both of these moves should make complete sense for Houston, and the fact that Ed Wade didn't deal Myers at the deadline last year when his value was at it's highest has got to sting even more now that he's put up an incredibly pedestrian season to this point. Keppinger has been rumored to be on the trade block since the offseason, but his injury wiped out suitors. Why the Astros are so intent on dealing him is a bit of a mystery, especially now that the nominal fallback option would likely be Matt Downs, but they might as well get rid of anyone pulling a real salary at this point.

Ken Rosenthal's weekly Full Count video breached the subject of Wandy Rodriguez going to the Yankees, who have been mentioned in talks for practically any starter with a pulse all offseason. MLB Trade Rumors has the transcript:

Rosenthal asked Yankees GM Brian Cashman if he would consider trading for an ace, and Cashman replied, "I'm not Ruben Amaro," referring to the Phillies GM and his affinity for blockbuster trades. Rosenthal names Wandy Rodriguez as a potential target for New York, but says there could be a hangup since the Astros value Rodriguez as an ace, while the Yanks would view him as a back-of-the-rotation addition.

If the Yankees really believe that the man that (courtesy of Joshua Powling) has the second-lowest ERA in baseball over the past calendar year is a back-of-the-rotation starter, then they can just keep on walking. Rodriguez and Hunter Pence are the Astros two real trade chips, and they'll have to get terrific value to move them. Especially since they both are under team control next year.

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Nationals Asked About Michael Bourn

Per MLB.com’s Bill Madson, the Nationals are scouting center fielders and are willing to overpay in a trade. So it should come as no surprise to learn that the Nationals asked the Astros about the availability of center fielder and leadoff man Michael Bourn.

Bourn is likely to be one of the hottest names as we approach baseball’s trade deadline. Chris Cwik at Fangraphs takes a look at what exactly the Astros could reasonably expect for Bourn:

Eric Seidman wrote up a fantastic piece on Bourn, 28, last week, in which he explained how Bourn has been so valuable the past two seasons. Since much of Bourn’s value is tied up in his excellent defense, it’s tough to project how valuable he will be going forward. The team that acquires Bourn, however, can focus on the short term as Bourn is eligible for arbitration at the conclusion of the season. At this point in time, we have no reason to expect a sudden decline in Bourn’s defense, making him a valuable acquisition for a contender.

Due to the uncertainty surround Grady Sizemore, Bourn is an ideal fit for Cleveland. Sizemore has already spent time on the DL this season, and he’ll probably have to be rested often if the Indians hope to keep him healthy. On top of that, it’s highly unlikely Sizemore will return to his excellent defensive ways in center following such a devastating knee injury. Not only is Sizemore capable of playing a corner spot, but allowing Bourn to play center immediately increases the Indians’ team defense.

That seems like an awkward fit, mainly because Sizemore can still be counted on to play an average center field when healthy. Why would the Indians want to move someone down the defensive spectrum when they don’t have to?

The Astros probably wouldn’t move Bourn unless they got a real knockout offer, especially considering they’ll have another year of him under team control. Houston has probably already seen his best work, as well, and that will knock his trade value down further as teams speculate on his defensive value moving forward.

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New York Papers Continue To Connect Myers And Yankees

New York Post columnist George King became the latest reporter to connect the Yankees and Astros pitcher Brett Myers. Unfortunately, he doesn’t think the two sides have much common ground:

Houston will listen on veteran righty Brett Myers, but according to a person with knowledge of the Astros’ plans, the Yankees don’t have a match.

The real question at this point is why the Yankees would even want Myers. He’s got a 5.11 ERA and has allowed a league-high 14 homers. Myers does have a 4.21 xFIP, so he’s probably pitching better than his traditional stats would show, but with a lot of money still owed to him. The Yankees have gotten decent work from their own retread projects like Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.

The Astros would likely have a higher value on Myers than the Yankees have right now, so it’s no surprise that the two sides don’t have the same idea of what he should bring back in a trade. We’ll see if that idea holds up when Jim Crane officially takes over the team.

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Astros GM Wade 'Looking For Depth,' Among Other Things

ESPN’s Jayson Stark has a new notes column up, and he votes with the popular consensus in thinking that the Astros should look to deal veterans. Stark managed to get a few words out of Ed Wade, which is almost as difficult as getting Texans GM Rick Smith to comment on any specific player, and naturally the results were vague:

1) As GM Ed Wade pointed out, the Astros actually have a better record this year (18-30) than they had in late May last year (17-34) — and last year’s team went 59-52 the rest of the way. 2) Until the Astros’ sale to Jim Crane is approved (most likely sometime in July), Wade can’t even have a conversation with the new owner about his philosophy on team-building.

But at a time in which his club is obviously rebuilding, Wade says he expects to take the same approach this July that he took last July: “Anything that builds the type of depth that will get us where we need to be, it would make sense to explore.”

Awesome, Ed! Make sure everyone knows your club is only a .500 record away from mediocrity rather than horrendous!

Stark speculates further on Hunter Pence, mentioning that he’s heard the Braves, Phillies, and Orioles. He also mentions that the Phillies might not be able to afford Pence’s salary as their payroll is already rather bloated, though I’m sure Wade would be happy to help his friends in red with another cash bailout.

Opposing executives expect Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, Clint Barmes, and Bill Hall to be available at the deadline. Rodriguez could fetch a pretty penny, but don’t look for those last three to bring in much unless they start turning it around. Pence is another matter, as the prevailing wisdom around him seems to be that the Astros can’t trade him because he is their best player. And? That hasn’t done much for them so far. Jim Bowden has it right, it’s in the Astros best interests to deal Pence if they can command a good package for him.

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Astros Rumors: Myers 'Seems To Have Yankees Written All Over Him', Phillies Asked About Pence

Some seem to think that selling off players despite having the worst record in the National League is a good idea, but we don't believe that for a minute, do we Drayton? What? Drayton's not here anymore? We're allowed to stop pretending the Astros are good? Alright then.

A couple of rumors made the rounds this weekend involving the Astros. The first was from Ken Rosenthal's Full Count video, which MLB Trade Rumors has helpfully transcribed. The Phillies have inquired about Hunter Pence, but Rosenthal doesn't think the Astros will deal their right fielder:

Three different scouts have told Rosenthal that the Phillies have asked the Astros about Hunter Pence. A deal seems unlikely for a number of reasons -- Pence's salary (he's owed roughly $5MM more this season), the Phillies' reluctance to move top prospects in a deal, and the fact that Jim Crane wouldn't want to begin his ownership of the Astros by dealing their best player.

On the plus side, the Astros are still GM'ed by Ed Wade, so the Phillies should still get plenty of mileage out of that. The idea that Crane shouldn't begin his Astros tenure by trading his best player is ridiculous. If your best player's performance can best be described as "pretty good", thats a sign that your team needs to be torn down in the first place.

Meanwhile, in his notes column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo speculates that Astros starter Brett Myers has "Yankees written all over him." Nobody is sure yet what was used to write Yankees on him, or who did it. My gut feeling is that the Yankees themselves already have a similar cadre of starters to Myers and that he'd be a terrible fit in the AL East. Especially now that he's sporting a 5.00+ ERA. But hey, if they actually want to deal for him, the Astros should be listening.

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