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.