4 Houston Astros trade targets to boost postseason odds, including All-Star

Houston Astros trade targets
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The Houston Astros were one of the best teams in baseball in the first two months of the season, fueling speculation they could be sellers at the MLB trade deadline. Now, thanks to an early summer turnaround, the Astros trade targets will be players to help improve the team’s chances at competing.

The Astros roster has plenty of weaknesses. Entering MLB games today, Astros’ first basemen rank 30th in OPS (.537) and its pitching has been just as big of a problem. Fortunately, there are enticing options at both spots ahead of the MLB trade deadline.

  • Houston Astros rotation stats (FanGraphs): 4.39 ERA (20th in MLB), 11.8% K-BB rate (25th), 1.34 WHIP (25th), .241 batting average allowed (12th), 9.9% walk rate (09th)

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Let’s dive into our Astros trade targets.

Jack Flaherty, starting pitcher, Detroit Tigers

Houston Astros trade targets
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Jack Flaherty looks as good as he ever did during his best years with the St. Louis Cardinals. Two down seasons in St. Louis – 4.84 ERA in 180.1 innings – damaged Flaherty’s reputation. Now, playing on a prove-it contract, Flaherty has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season.

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The 28-year-old righty boasts a career-high 33.3 percent strikeout rate, with a career-best 4 percent walk rate in 83.1 innings pitched. He’s held opponents to a .221 batting average this season with only 10 home runs and 12 walks allowed to 324 total batters. Flaherty is everything the Astros rotation needs.

Nick Pivetta, starting pitcher, Boston Red Sox

Houston Astros trade targets

While the Boston Red Sox are firmly in playoff contention, they aren’t opposed to making long-term moves. Nick Pivetta has been great for Boston this season, but the 31-year-old is also playing on an expiring contract. With the Red Sox farm system needing some work, this summer could be the best opportunity to maximize Pivetta’s value.

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Houston would be adding a dependable right-handed starter. While Pivetta does have a 4.06 ERA across 57.2 innings pitched this season, he’s done it with an excellent 20.9 percent K-BB rate. Pivetta’s .236 batting average allowed and 1.16 WHIP are also excellent for a mid-rotation starter. Most importantly, Pivetta’s ability to work deeper into games and showcase crisp command would be an upgrade for the Astros.

Yusei Kikuchi, starting pitcher, Toronto Blue Jays

Houston Astros trade targets
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The focus of our Astros trade targets is on starting pitchers. After all, Houston entered play on June 25 ranked 20th in ERA (4.13) and 23rd in WHIP (1.31). We also wanted to prioritize half-season rentals, which are much cheaper to acquire than a starting pitcher with multiple years of contract control.

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Yusei Kikuchi, while an injury risk, would be an upgrade over what Houston is throwing out right now. The 33-year-old southpaw has displayed excellent swing-and-miss stuff (24.2 percent K-rate) this season, all with just a 5.6 percent walk rate. Kikuchi does allow a fair amount of contact (.272 batting average allowed), but he doesn’t surrender a ton of loud contact. Kikuchi profiles more as a quality No. 4 starter, but he should be an affordable target for Houston.

Josh Bell, first base, Houston Astros

Houston Astros trade targets, Josh Bell
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It’s no secret that Josh Bell is available. In fact, the Miami Marlins are willing to cover a significant portion of his $10 million salary to get him out of town. The Astros are no stranger to taking advantage of rebuilding teams and Bell is one of the best first base options out there.

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On the surface, Bell’s .246/.309/.381 slash line and .690 OPS this season might not sound like much of an upgrade for the Astros lineup. Instead, focus on the more recent numbers. Since May 1, the All-Star first baseman owns a .289/.337/.445 line with 5 home runs, 23 RBI and a .782 OPS. Adding that to the Astros lineup would make a difference, especially if Houston can’t land the starting pitchers it wants. On the other hand, all of these Astros trade targets are affordable enough that Houston could acquire multiple in July.

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