Astros Should Target Rays Relievers In A Trade

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May 2, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow waves to the crowd before a game against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Of all the teams and all the hot stove rumors out there, the Tampa Bay Rays are the team that makes the most sense for the Astros to seek a trade with.

With Colby Rasmus accepting the free agent tender, followed by the trade of Jed Lowrie, the Astros are now not likely to make any more significant moves with everyday lineup.  Reports have been that owner Jim Crane has loosened the purse strings, although we’ll kind of believe only when we see it.  It’s interesting that the money owed to Lowrie which the Astros cleared out, almost exactly matched the raise that Rasmus received.

But if the Astros are still going to make some kind of moves it should be for a closer and a starter, ideally a #2 starter.

So will the Astros trade for AND spend on closer like Aroldis Chapman?  I have my doubts.

But the Rays have a couple guys that have closed, that are reportedly available.  Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee.

Boxberger, 27 years old, closed for the Rays this past year and finished with 41 saves.  He’s a two-pitch fastball/changup right-hander.  What makes him effective is he has the largest differential in MLB this past season from his fastball to his change.  His four seam fastball averages around 92-93 and typically has good movement, a 1 inch rise, quite significant.  His change comes in around 79 and drops at the last minute.  This variance speed and movement variance keeps hitters off balance.

Boxberger is headed into his first year of arbitration and should be due a sizeable raise. After only making $521,000 last season, his salary should jump to around $3 million this in 2016.

Jake McGee is almost the exact opposite type of pitcher.  A lefty that throws almost nothing but fastballs, but throws gas!  McGee is 29 and his 4 seam fastball is somewhere between 97 and 101.  It has some movement and he has good command of it.  Stylistically, think Billy Wagner.

Jul 24, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Jake McGee (57) throws a pitch at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Baltimore Orioles 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

McGee is headed into his last year of arbitration having made $3.5 million last year, which should rise to $5-6 mil this season.

But what really makes the Rays a good fit for the Astros, is the Rays also have the kind of starting pitcher that the Astros should add.

The Rays, who build from the draft and/or trading for young players in the minors or just on the cusp of establishing themselves, are almost always flush with starting pitchers and this year is no different.  Even after sending Nate Karns to the Mariners the Rays could still be in the market to move another starting pitcher.

Why would the Rays trade another starter?  Because the Rays’ farm system is somewhat uncharacteristically thin of pitching prospects at the moment and as the small market team that they are and how they like to operate, I expect they are wanting to reload their farm system a bit, which is an area of strength for the Astros.

So what’s available starting pitching wise? (click below)

Next: Pitchers To Target