Astros have chips to deal at Trade Deadline
GM Luhnow likely to add to cache of prospects by swapping veterans
TORONTO -- No team has made more noise at the Trade Deadline in the past three seasons than the Astros, who have used baseball's midsummer swap meet as a way to stockpile prospects and get out from under some hefty contracts.
It began in 2010, when team pillars Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman were dealt. The fire sale continued in 2011, with up-and-coming outfielders Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence being moved. A flurry of deals last year saw Carlos Lee, Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, Chris Johnson and Brandon Lyon among those sent packing.
Talk about roster turnover.
When the dust settled, the Astros had infused their farm system with some promising prospects. But they don't have many veteran chips left to trade. Among those who still could be moved prior to Wednesday's 3 p.m. CT Deadline is right-handed pitcher Bud Norris.
Norris, 28, is 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA in 21 starts, and is on pace to throw 200 innings for the first time in his career. He certainly could help plug a hole in the rotation of a contending team, and he doesn't appear to fit into the Astros' rebuilding plan.
After his most recent start, Norris sounded like a man who thinks he's about to change uniforms, and thanked the fans of Houston.
"They've been great all along," said Norris. "I've played here four years, and they've always had my back. I really, really appreciate it. When you get that support from the people in the city, it's real exciting. I thank them for everything, whatever my future holds for me."
If the Astros don't trade him, Norris could make more than $5 million in arbitration next year -- which wouldn't make sense for where they are in their rebuilding process. Plus, the club has some promising young arms that could be ready next season.
The Astros moved another established player, closer Jose Veras, on Monday morning, sending him to the Tigers for 19-year-old outfield prospect Danry Vasquez and a player to be named later.
Veras, 32, had never been a closer prior to this year, but he's nailed down 18 saves -- including 11 in a row through Saturday. In 41 1/3 innings, he's allowed 29 hits and struck out 44. Plus, he's cheap. He's making $1.85 million this year.
"There's quite a bit of interest in several of our players," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "A lot of teams are in it. We're getting phone calls from a lot of different teams, and we're fielding them and having conversations. I can't handicap if we're looking as if we're going to get a deal. But I'll be happy either way."
Astros starter Erik Bedard, who went 0-5 in July but posted a respectable 3.86 ERA, could also be pursued by a team looking for an arm at the back of the rotation. Teams called about Lucas Harrell when he was moved out of the rotation, but the Astros have yet to try to move him.
Whether Luhnow is able to make any moves remains to be seen, but he's shown in his 18 months on the job that he's not afraid to pull the trigger on a deal.