It’s no secret the Houston Astros bullpen has been one of the best in baseball this year. It was also one of the best last year until September hiccups.
While the Astros hope to keep their steady numbers until November this time around, it’s possible a few members of their pen may be moved ahead of the July 31st trade deadline, according to Jon Heyman (Today’s Knuckleball).
"… Along with veteran starter Scott Feldman being available, rival teams say relievers Pat Neshek and Josh Fields are available, too."
It’s not surprising to see any of those three names as potential trade options. Scott Feldman is on the final year of his deal and has been regulated to long relief work. While he’s been pretty dominant in that role, it’s likely the veteran would like to be a starter as he nears free agency this offseason.
Climbing Tal's Hill
Pat Neshek holds the team’s third lowest ERA at 2.54 and the team’s lowest BAA (.175) and WHIP (0.88). Though he’s been used in lower leverage situations this season, he’s a veteran reliever with a lot of experience as a set-up man. Neshek has a club option for next season, so a team acquiring him could get out of his deal with a $500,000 buyout if they don’t want to fork over $6.5 million next year.
A former Rule 5 draft pick, Josh Fields had a 6.89 ERA in 15.2 innings pitched this year before being sent down to AAA Fresno. He’s fared much better since with a 2.01 ERA in 22.1 innings for the Grizzlies, but there’s not much room for him on the Astros roster. Fields is arbitration eligible for the next two seasons, so it’s possible a team looking for a fireballer would take a stab at him.
The Astros could be floating around the names of these pitchers looking to take advantage of what’s expected to be hefty prices for starters and relievers. They should be able to get back a decent prospect or two for both Feldman and Neshek if they were to trade them.
Another reason the Astros can afford to deal them is because of the emergence of James Hoyt. The Grizzlies closer has been lights out all season with a 1.87 ERA and 22 saves in 38 games pitched. He’d likely be the first replacement in the Astros bullpen if another reliever were to be traded or get injured.
We’ll have all the latest on the Astros rumors as they come in over the next few weeks.
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