As the White Sox continue to get thrashed by the Houston Astros news surfaced on Saturday that they might try to swipe their coveted veteran and clubhouse leader as well. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote a trade-chatter piece explaining that Jose Abreu was the subject of “strong flirtations” by the Astros recently.
“There’s been a strong flirtation by the Astros with Abreu. While they’re monitoring the bullpen market, they could easily switch gears and pull this off. If they do, according to one scout, ‘Print the World Series tickets.'”
Given what the Astros’ dismantling of the White Sox this season (and most other teams in Major League Baseball) Abreu appears to be more of a luxury than a necessity. Between Yuli Gurrielle and Evan Gattis, the Astros have plenty of thunder and lightning in the lineup without trading away a king’s ransom for two years of Abreu — but there is no question that Abreu would make them better.
Gurriel is batting .300 with a .759 OPS while Gattis has logged 18 home runs and driven in 61 runs. Losing both Brian McCann to Knee surgery and Carlos Correa to back stiffness are gut punches to the lineup, but Correa is expected to return quickly and McCann should be back by September.
Moreover, the Astros are 1.9 runs better (according to Baseball Reference’s Standard Rating System (SRS)) than the average major-league team this season, albeit with McCann and Correa in the lineup. Still, even with a few missing pieces in the lineup, the pitching staff alone has demonstrated the ability to extinguish the most potent lineups.
…what would it take to spring Abreu from the clutches of a lost season of full-scale rebranding in Chicago? A whole lot more than the Astros are willing to give up.
Kyle Tucker has been the subject of desire for many teams in trade discussions in past years and the left-handed slugger made his major-league debut on Saturday against the White Sox. Hmmmm…
Could this have been an audition for White Sox brass to take a first-hand peep at the precocious youngster?
Perhaps, but he went 1 for 4 with three strikeouts against James Shields. And if the Astros were willing to continue negotiations with Tucker on the table (and George Springer batting a disappointing .249) they might be considered derelict in their duties as custodians of a perennial championship contender.
Yet, drilling deeper into the match for a trade between the Stros and White Sox offers scant optimism for a deal. Eliminating Tucker would non sequitur for a deal, but given the embarrassment of riches the White Sox have in outfield prospect-depth, this doesn’t seem likely. White Sox brass would certainly ask for pitching to add weight to the deal and left-handed pitching would be a high priority.
The Sox might ask for Cionel Perez, a Double-A southpaw ranked as the Astros’ No. 6 prospect and Cuba native. But trading one Cuban player for another doesn’t help the argument for strengthening the unit of Cuban camaraderie on the south side.
After Perez there are a slew or right-handed pitching that could be tossed around, but it just doesn’t seem likely that the White Sox will have much interest in what the Astros have to offer. Besides, it has been well established how much intangible value Pito offers to the White Sox — a subject of my discussion with Scott Merking on last week’s Pinwheels and Ivy Podcast.
The more likely scenario is another team overbidding for Avisail Garcia or Shields by the end of July. With Garcia’s blistering return to the lineup and power surge this season, teams might be intrigued by the once-maligned outfielder.