Houston Astros – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-04-24T18:01:04Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Astros Carefully Managing Whitley's Workload]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=156451 2019-04-18T16:53:09Z 2019-04-18T16:53:09Z
  • Jake Kaplan of The Athletic explores the manner in which the Astros will manage the workload of top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley (subscription required). The highly touted righty totaled just 52 1/3 innings between the regular season and the AFL last year, owing to a 50-game drug suspension and a pair of injuries, so Houston will monitor his pitch and inning counts closely. Thus far, Whitley has been limited to five innings or 80 pitches per appearance. Houston opted to have him take the final turn in what is a six-day rotation consisting of three solo starters and three tandem pairings (one including the pairing of Whitley and Cy Sneed). While the organization has a rough idea of where they’d like Whitley’s innings count to land, president of baseball ops Jeff Luhnow suggested that it’s a context-dependent guideline rather than a hard cap. It’s plausible that he could debut as either a starter or reliever, depending on team needs. In general, Houston’s at times unorthodox approach to player development makes for a fascinating read, and that’s all the more true when the focus is placed on arguably the game’s top pitching prospect.
  • ]]>
    TC Zencka <![CDATA[AL West Notes: Straw, James, Luzardo]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=156267 2019-04-15T03:26:26Z 2019-04-15T03:26:26Z Ever-seeking new ways to expand their depth, the Astros recently approached outfield prospect Myles Straw about taking some groundballs at shortstop, per The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan. Straw was understandably surprised at first, even skeptical, but lo and behold, he has evenly split his time between center and short through ten games at Triple-A Round Rock. Straw, 24, ranks as the #16 prospect in Houston’s system per MLB.com, #17 per Fangraphs. Outfield depth in Triple-A and the Astros’ past success with utility players like Marwin Gonzalez and Yuli Gurriel may be driving the Straw experiment, but it’s a win-win for team and player, as it behooves both sides to maximize Straw’s chances of making an impact at the big league level. Even though Straw is already arguably their best defensive outfield prospect, diversifying his defensive profile will certainly increase his odds of finding a permanent role on a major league roster, should the experiment prove fruitful. More from the AL West…

    • Josh James has stumbled out the gate this season, but he’s focused on repeating his delivery and finding a consistent rhythm from which to pump his 100+ mph fastball into the zone, per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. The 26-year-old flame-throwing righty has surrendered seven earned runs in only eight innings of work through six appearances out of the Houston pen (7.88 ERA). Wildness has been an issue (6.8 BB/9) as has the long ball (3 HR allowed, 3.4 HR/9) – but gaudy strikeout numbers are also par for the course for James (12.4 K/9). The K-rate provides some statistical backing to James’ hopes that more consistent mechanics could fix his control issues and unlock some real potential – he clearly has the stuff to stick the landing in the pros. A strained right quad injury shortened his Spring Training, which time and again has proved complicating for pitchers trying to find their sea legs, so to speak, early in a new campaign.
    • On a similar note, A’s top prospect Jesus Luzardo will need to essentially go through an entire Spring Training period of his own if/when he starts throwing, per the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser. Luzardo was shut down on March 21st because of a sore left shoulder, and he has yet to resume throwing, though he could do so any day now. A’s manager Bob Melvin reports that Luzardo “feels absolutely fantastic” and “wants to throw,” but it’s unlikely he sees the major leagues before at least mid-season. Given his youth and potential, Oakland will no doubt track him carefully as he builds back shoulder strength for the stretch run.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Astros Notes: Bregman, Chirinos]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=155976 2019-04-12T15:28:42Z 2019-04-11T05:29:39Z There’s no defined timetable for when Alex Bregman will return to the Astros’ lineup, though the star third baseman tells Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link) that an MRI of his ailing right hamstring didn’t reveal anything similar to the 2016 issue that cost him a few weeks of the season. For the time being, Bregman is simply considered day to day, and there’s yet to be any indication that a trip to the injured list is a particular concern for him or the team.

    • Jake Kaplan of The Athletic takes a look at the changes Robinson Chirinos has made to his game since signing with the Astros (subscription required). Chirinos details the drills he worked on throughout Spring Training to change his setup behind the plate as well as the slight alteration to his throwing motion — made at the behest of pitching coach Brent Strom after noticing a mechanical flaw. The season is still extraordinarily young, but Chirinos has drawn slightly positive marks in pitch framing, per both Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus, after ranking as one of the game’s worst in that regard for much of his career. He’s also halted two of the seven stolen-base attempts against him thus far after catching just 10 percent of thieves in 2018. Only time will tell if the changes yield quantifiable improvements, but that’ll be an interesting thread for both Astros and Rangers fans to follow over the course of the season.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Peacock Moving To Bullpen Until Late April]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=155911 2019-04-10T03:05:21Z 2019-04-10T03:05:21Z
  • With a series of off-days on the horizon, the Astros will move Brad Peacock to the bullpen for the next couple of weeks, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Houston has been operating with a shorter bullpen than usual in order to carry two out-of-options players on its bench in Tony Kemp and Tyler White. Whether that arrangement proves sustainable over the course of the entire season remains to be seen, as manager A.J. Hinch even spoke of distinctly noticing a difference in carrying a 12-man pitching staff as opposed to a 13-man pitching staff in the early stages of the 2019 season.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Why The Astros Dealt Ramon Laureano]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=155656 2019-04-07T00:03:51Z 2019-04-07T00:03:51Z Every team has regrets about giving up on a player who breaks out elsewhere, though in the Astros’ case, it’s a bit tougher to watch since Ramon Laureano is blossoming for a division rival, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle writes.  Laureano (a 16th-round pick for the Astros in 2014) showed some flashes of potential over his first four pro seasons, though it wasn’t enough to make him part of Houston’s long-term plans, especially considering the organization’s outfield depth.  “We loved him, it wasn’t a lack of affection for him, it was just that we ran out of a lot of opportunity for him,” manager A.J. Hinch said.  Rather than protect Laureano in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft, the Astros instead dealt the outfielder to the Athletics in November 2017 for minor league righty Brandon Bailey.

    After hitting well for Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate, Laureano got the call to the big leagues last August and hasn’t looked back.  He has become the Athletics’ everyday center fielder thanks to both a potent bat (.284/.344/.469 over 215 career PA) and some excellent defense, including earning the nickname of “Laser Ramon” thanks to his powerful throwing arm.  “I don’t think we quite had the defense rated as well as its played in the big leagues,” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said. “That was an underassessment on our part….We had a feeling (Laureano) was going to be a pretty good big league player, but he’s gotten off to a faster start in his career than we thought.  So, yeah, he’s one that I’d love to have back.”

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Carlos Correa Likely To Make Season Debut Sunday]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=155085 2019-03-31T03:50:46Z 2019-03-31T03:49:52Z
  • Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is likely to make his season debut Sunday, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle suggests. Correa suffered a neck strain a week ago, which has left short to the error-prone Aledmys Diaz and elite third baseman Alex Bregman so far this season. Upon his return, the 24-year-old Correa will aim to rebound from a surprisingly pedestrian 2018 campaign, his second straight injury-limited season.
  • ]]>
    TC Zencka <![CDATA[MLB Awards “Championship Belt” During Arbitration Symposium]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=155035 2019-03-30T18:16:56Z 2019-03-30T18:16:56Z Major League Baseball hosts an annual symposium on arbitration wherein delegates from each team come together with the league to make recommendations for upcoming arbitration hearings. There is a ceremony near the end of the symposium when a “championship belt” is awarded to the team that best accomplished the “goals set by the industry,” per The Athletic’s Marc Carig. Passed annually from one year’s winner to the next, The Belt is a chintzy, plastic “prize,” intended as a moment of levity and morale for what can be a difficult process on all sides. In this thoughtful article, Carig digs into the arbitration process, its history, the toll it takes on those involved, and of course, The Belt.

    Clearly, given the tumultuous relationship between Major League Baseball, the owners, and the Players’ Association, the optics here aren’t great. However harmless the intent (or however private), an award for essentially best limiting the earning potential for players is not likely to sit well with the MLBPA – or the public for that matter. MLB confirmed existence of The Belt, explaining it as “an informal recognition of those club’s salary arbitration departments that did the best.” This season, the finalists were the Astros, Braves, Cubs, Indians, Rays, and Twins.

    Executive Director of the MLBPA Tony Clark reacted with a statement (via Twitter), saying, “That clubs make sport of trying to suppress salaries in a process designed to produce fair settlements shows a blatant lack of respect for our Players, the game, and the arbitration process itself.”

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Health Notes: Kershaw, Perez, Johnson]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=154957 2019-03-30T02:12:52Z 2019-03-30T02:12:52Z Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw may not be all that far from returning to the MLB mound, but he has a few more steps to take. As Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports on Twitter, the star hurler could soon be cleared for a minor-league rehab assignment — if he’s able to complete a live BP session tomorrow without incident. Supposing things go well and Kershaw is ready to resume competitive action next week, he’ll still need to build up his pitch count before returning to the Dodgers roster. It’s not yet clear how many rehab starts he’d need before being activated.

    More health notes from around the game …

    • The Tigers announced Friday that pitching prospect Franklin Perez will miss the first four to six weeks of the season due to tendinitis in his right shoulder. He’ll rehab at the team’s spring facility in Lakeland, Fla. for the time being. The shoulder tendinitis is the latest health-related setback for 21-year-old, who also missed most of the 2018 campaign with lat and shoulder issues. Perez, who threw just 19 1/3 innings last seasons, was one of the key pieces Detroit received from the Astros in the 2017 blockbuster that sent Justin Verlander to Houston. Considered at the time of that deal to be one of baseball’s premier minor league arms, Perez has seen his prospect star dim as injuries have prevented him from taking the hill. Fortunately for the Tigers, he’s still quite young and has ample time to develop, but the ongoing arm issues are a troubling trend.
    • There’s an even tougher diagnosis for Marlins prospect Osiris Johnson, as Wells Dusenbery of the Sun Sentinel reports on Twitter. The youngster appears to be sidelined for all of the 2019 season after undergoing surgery for a right tibial stress fracture. Taken in the second round of last year’s draft, the shortstop is considered a high-risk, high-upside talent. He turned in good results at the Rookie level but stumbled in a late promotion to the Class A level. This was to be an important year of development for Johnson, who only turned 18 last October.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Astros Extend Justin Verlander]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=154135 2019-03-24T15:36:09Z 2019-03-24T15:35:24Z SUNDAY: Houston has announced the extension.

    SATURDAY: The Astros have reached an agreement with right-hander Justin Verlander on a two-year, $66MM extension, Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston reports. The deal will keep Verlander, a client of ISE Baseball, in Houston through the 2021 season.

    It has been a remarkable few seasons for Verlander, who’s set to complete the final season of a five-year, $140MM extension signed prior to the ’13 campaign. Lagging velocity and some health issues led to messy 2014 and 2015 seasons, but Verlander recovered admirably, finishing out his Tigers tenure in good form before being shipped to the ’Stros.

    Verlander has now reached his 36th birthday, but you wouldn’t know it from the way he pitched last year. Over 214 frames, he worked to a 2.52 ERA with 12.2 K/9 against just 1.6 BB/9. And it wasn’t just the work of a crafty veteran who somehow managed to squeeze out one last good season from what was left of his stuff. Verlander averaged over 95 mph with his dominating fastball and jumped to a 14.5% swinging-strike rate — easily the highest mark of his storied career.

    There’s an argument to be made that Verlander was never better than in 2018. He didn’t tally the same volume of great innings that he did in the vintage seasons of his youth, but Verlander’s insane 30.4% K%-BB% was nearly twice his career average. That level of unadulterated dominance is typically reserved for elite late-inning relievers who mostly unleash their arsenal in one-inning bursts. Statcast actually felt that Verlander was unlucky to permit opposing batters a paltry .260 wOBA. The contact they made against him was so weak that the advanced system credited those hitters with a .236 xwOBA.

    Locking up Verlander – the third in a series of late-spring Astros extensions – brings at least some degree of clarity to a future rotation mix that seemed hazy at best. With both Verlander and Gerrit Cole set to hit the market after the upcoming campaign, and emerging frontliner Lance McCullers Jr. on the shelf until at least Opening Day 2020, Houston’s level of concern vis-á-vis the top end of the rotation had reached urgent heights. Collin McHugh was lassoed back from the bullpen, but none of the club’s glut of emerging arms – Cionel Perez, Framber Valdez, Josh James, Forrest Whitley, Corbin Martin, and J.B. Bukauskas among them – would likely be prepared to lead a staff in the upcoming seasons, especially one with designs on another AL crown.

    The club still has more to work to do, of course (old friend Dallas Keuchel is still out there), but with just $108MM on the 2020 books even with the extensions divvied to Verlander, Alex Bregman, and Ryan Pressly, there should be plenty of room with which to maneuver. A Cole deal seems further off, and riskier still given his third-starter track record in the two seasons prior to ’18, but the club’s tech-blazed path to improvement with so many of its hurlers, centered on bolstering spin rates with pitches both fast and slow, should certainly be a mark in its favor. Houston, under Jeff Luhnow, has always been loath to part from the cream of its crop, so a high-profile trade for a top-end arm wouldn’t seem to be in the cards.

    Regardless, with ace now in tow, the Astros have widened their window considerably. In addition to Cole, only George Springer, among the team’s stars, is set to hit the open market between now and when Verlander’s contract expires at the end of 2021, and the team has its floodgates set wide open in hopes that another homegrown star or two will wash ashore.

    MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand was the first to report the two sides were “moving toward” an extension (via Twitter). Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was first with the proposed figures (Twitter link). Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Marlins Likely To Keep Riley Ferrell ]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=154283 2019-03-24T00:31:42Z 2019-03-24T00:31:42Z
  • The Reds have sent right-hander Anthony Bass to minor league camp, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Bass had been competing for a bullpen spot with the Reds after they signed him to a minors deal in December. He owns a 4.51 ERA/4.20 FIP with 6.07 K/9 and 3.31 BB/9 and a 47.9 percent groundball rate in a combined 299 1/3 innings with the Padres, Astros, Rangers and Cubs.
  • The Marlins are “expected” to retain Rule 5 pick Riley Ferrell, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports. The club took the right-hander fourth overall from the Astros in December, and he has since pitched well over 6 2/3 spring innings (two earned runs allowed on five hits and five walks, with 10 strikeouts). Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs regard the 25-year-old Ferrell as “at least a big league-ready middle reliever with a chance to be a set-up man.”
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Astros Had Offseason Interest In Marcus Stroman]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=154185 2019-03-23T16:28:41Z 2019-03-23T16:28:41Z
  • The Astros were one of the teams that showed interest in trading for Marcus Stroman over the winter, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (subscription required).  The Reds and Padres were also linked to Stroman in reports.  Stroman is under team control through the 2020 season, though the combination of the Jays’ rebuild and Stroman’s own outspoken displeasure over a lack of extension talks and the club’s winter moves could be signs that the Blue Jays will eventually move on from the right-hander.  To rebuild trade value, however, Stroman will have to rebound from a disappointing 2018 season.  From Houston’s perspective, Stroman would give the team additional pitching depth beyond the coming year, since Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley, Brad Peacock, and Collin McHugh are all scheduled to hit free agency in the 2019-20 offseason.  (Justin Verlander is also part of this group, though he and the Astros appear to be closing in on an extension.)
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Astros Extend Alex Bregman]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=153727 2019-03-22T20:37:08Z 2019-03-22T20:35:35Z MARCH 22: The deal has now been announced.

    MARCH 21: Bregman will be paid $11MM annually from 2020-22 before earning $28.5MM in both 2023 and 2024, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports (via Twitter). He also has a 10-team no-trade clause for the 2023-24 seasons.

    MARCH 20: The deal includes a $10MM signing bonus, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter). That’s unusual for a pre-arb contract; Heyman even suggests it may be unprecedented. Bregman can also boost his salary through escalators based upon MVP award finishes, the details of which are not yet known.

    MARCH 19, 9:12pm: The Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome clarifies (via Twitter) that the contract is technically a five-year, $100MM extension. The new contract does not override Bregman’s 2019 salary, but it does cover his three arbitration seasons and what would have been his first two free-agent seasons.

    It’s a technicality but not an insignificant one; because Bregman’s 2019 contract is a separate entity from his 2020-24 contract, the extension comes with a $20MM luxury hit (the average annual value of the deal). Had it been structured as a six-year pact overriding his current salary, the deal would’ve come with a $16.66MM luxury hit.

    However, signing Bregman to a six-year deal with that $16.66MM hit would’ve pushed Houston to just about $3.5MM shy of paying the luxury tax in 2019, leaving the Astros with minimal wiggle room for in-season additions on the trade market. Instead, they’re about $19.5MM shy of the $206MM threshold right now, which should leave them plenty of room to take on salary in midseason trades.

    8:55pm: The Astros have agreed to terms on a six-year, $100MM contract with star third baseman Alex Bregman, reports Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston (via Twitter). That contract covers the current season, three arbitration years and what would’ve been the first two free-agent seasons for Bregman. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal had tweeted not long before that the two sides had been discussing an extension.

    Alex Bregman | Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Bregman, 25 at the end of the month, has rapidly ascended from No. 2 overall draft pick (2015) to one of the game’s premier players. The LSU product has improved in each MLB season, topping out with his first All-Star appearance and a fifth-place finish in American League MVP voting in 2018. Last season, he posted a brilliant .286/.394/.532 batting line with 31 homers, 51 doubles, four triples and 10 steals in a season that both Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs was worth about seven wins above replacement.

    The contract extension comes just weeks after Bregman voiced “disappointment” with the fact that the Astros renewed his contract for the upcoming season at $640,500. “I understand that it’s a business,” Bregman told MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart at the time, “but I feel like good business would be wanting to make a player who performed at a high level on your team happy and want to feel like he wanted to be kept and feel like they wanted him to play here forever.”

    Whether Bregman was referencing a desire to sign an extension or merely felt he should’ve been compensated at the record pre-arb levels attained by Mookie Betts ($950K) and Kris Bryant ($1.05MM), the point is now moot. The nine-figure extension offer emphatically makes clear that the ’Stros view Bregman as a vital part of their future. At the same time, it also affords him the opportunity to reach the open market in advance of his age-31 campaign — enough time to perhaps lock in one more significant payday before reaching his mid-30s.

    Historically speaking, Bregman’s contract is the third-largest deal ever promised to a player with between two and three years of MLB service time. Buster Posey’s eight-year, $159MM pact tops the list for that service class, although unlike Bregman, he was a Super Two player and already eligible for arbitration when agreeing to that deal. He was also coming off a 2012 season in which he was named National League MVP, and beyond that, he had a National League Rookie of the Year Award on his mantle as well.

    As for non-Super-Two players with between two and three years of service, Mike Trout’s original six-year, $144MM contract still stands out as the high-water mark. Like Posey, he had a more impressive resume than Bregman through his first two-plus seasons before agreeing to that deal.

    This marks the second extension for the Astros on what has been an apparently busy day for president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow and the rest of the front office. Houston agreed to a two-year, $17.5MM extension with reliever Ryan Pressly earlier tonight as well.

    Bregman now joins 2017 American League MVP Jose Altuve as the only Astros locked up through the 2024 season. That pair will form the cornerstones of the Astros’ impressive nucleus for the next six years, and it’s still possible that others could be locked into longer-term pacts as well. Altuve, Bregman and Pressly are the only Astros players who are guaranteed any money beyond the 2020 season, and the team does have several important pieces up for free agency in the near future. Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Collin McHugh are all free agents at the end of the 2019 season, while George Springer will hit the open market after the 2020 campaign. Carlos Correa, meanwhile is arbitration-eligible through the 2021 season. No one should expect the Astros to lock up all of those players — even securing two would be an impressive feat — but the Bregman deal likely doesn’t put an end to the team’s extension efforts.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole Extension Possibilities]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=154092 2019-03-22T21:29:48Z 2019-03-22T20:18:41Z 4:27pm: Owner Jim Crane acknowledged that there are talks with at least some realistic possibility of a deal, as MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports on Twitter.

    “I don’t think anything is final, but if it’s going to get done it’s going to get done before we get out of here,” said Crane in reference to the conclusion of spring camp.

    3:17pm: Cole seems to have snuffed out any possibility of a deal coming together in his case. He says “there have been no contract negotiations,” as Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.

    The hurler indicated some displeasure with the situation. He tells Rome that the team asked, and he gave permission to hold a discussion with agent Scott Boras. But there was never any talk beyond that per Cole, who says “this seems more like a phone call negotiation involving the media than anyone else.”

    2:50pm: The Astros are currently discussing potential extension scenarios with both Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole — a development that The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal downplayed even as he reported it earlier today. In a follow-up tweet, though, Rosenthal says that deal with Verlander “is at least possible.”

    That characterization seems to nudge up the likelihood of a deal. The plausibility is boosted further by the fact that Rosenthal puts out some numbers. It seems there’s some discussion and potential for a two-year extension worth over $60MM.

    Verlander will turn 37 years of age before he throws a competitive pitch in the 2020 season. At that phase of a player’s career, lengthy commitments generally can’t be achieved. We’ve seen hefty two-year deals for superior performers, though not at the kind of top-of-the-market rates that seem to be under contemplation here.

    It’s hard to argue that Verlander is worthy anything less than top dollar. He has been fantastic since landing in Houston late in the 2017 season, throwing 248 innings in 39 starts and compiling a 2.32 ERA with 12.1 K/9 against 1.5 BB/9. Even for a pitcher as great as Verlander, that’s a dizzying level of output.

    Verlander has indicated that he’d like to keep pitching well into his forties. For now, he’ll have to decide whether to lock in two more years in Houston or instead wait to see what the open market offers next winter. As for the Astros, Rosenthal suggests they may need to dangle something approaching the current record average annual value for a starter (Zack Greinke’s $34.4MM) to secure a deal.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Giants Return Rule 5 Pick Drew Ferguson To Astros]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=154087 2019-03-22T19:10:35Z 2019-03-22T19:10:35Z The Giants have returned Rule 5 pick Drew Ferguson to the Astros after the outfielder cleared waivers, Maria Guardado of MLB.com tweets. Ferguson was designated for assignment yesterday when the Giants acquired another pick in this past year’s Rule 5 Draft, Connor Joe, from the Reds.

    Ferguson, 26, struggled in big league camp with San Francisco this spring, hitting just .111/.294/.111 over the life of 34 plate appearances. He enjoyed a strong, albeit somewhat shortened season in Triple-A this past year prior to being taken in the Rule 5, hitting .305/.436/.429 with 46 walks against just 61 strikeouts in 292 plate appearances. He’ll return to the Astros now and won’t be required to be placed on the 40-man roster.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Astros Discussing Extensions With Verlander, Cole]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=154010 2019-03-22T15:05:26Z 2019-03-22T15:05:26Z The Astros are currently discussing extensions with starters Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (subscription required), though a deal with either seems unlikely. Rosenthal notes that the Astros may not be keen on paying market price for a multi-year extension with Verlander when that deal would begin in his age-37 season. Cole, meanwhile, is a Scott Boras client and thus likelier to test the free-agent market. Boras’ most recent extension for a starting pitcher was Nationals righty Stephen Strasburg, who (like Cole) was in his walk year when he signed a $175MM guarantee on a seven-year deal beginning in his age-28 season. Cole is in his age-28 season right now, so he’d be a year older than Strasburg at the time of a theoretical extension, but he’s also been more durable, reaching 200 innings in three of the past four seasons. Rosenthal makes a slightly less-aggressive comp than that, pointing out that Cole will reach free agency at the same age as Patrick Corbin and with better career stats. Corbin agreed to a six-year deal worth $140MM with the Nats this winter.

    • Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi was drafted five spot behind Alex Bregman and reached the Majors barely a week after the Astros’ third baseman, but Benintendi tells Bradford that his those similarities didn’t make him take particular note of Bregman’s $100MM extension. Rather, the 24-year-old Benintendi says it’s “fun to watch all these guys sign some deals” in a nod to the bevy of extensions throughout MLB. Benintendi and his reps have not discussed an extension with the Sox this winter, though he tells Bradford that he would “definitely” listen if the Sox initiated talks.