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The Astros are off to a hot start and may want to make a few deals sooner than later.
The Houston Astros continue to be MLB’s villain and that role suits the team well. The Astros entered play Monday with a 6-3 record and appear to be legitimate contenders once again.
It is never too early to talk trades and the Astros have a few moves that could be made to help the team both in 2021 and beyond. One obvious trade is to find a suitor for Carlos Correa after the Astros low-balled him this past offseason. Another potential option is to swing a deal for Johnny Cueto to add a veteran arm to the rotation.
2 moves the Astros should make right away
Trading Correa is an obvious move if there is zero chance he will return on a new long-term deal in 2022. That appears to be the case given how the offseason passed without an extension. Add in Francisco Lindor’s monster new deal and Correa’s market went through the roof.
The Cleveland Indians are actually a good team for the Astros to emulate in terms of trading away a star shortstop. Cleveland had several top shortstop prospects in the system and still acquired two more in Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario from the New York Mets.
The Astros can seek out a team that wants Correa and stock up on young talent in the process. The tricky part is that the Astros are indeed contenders in 2021. Would they send Correa to another team they could face in the postseason? That may have to happen if the alternative is letting him walk for nothing in the offseason.
The Correa situation is complex and involves trading away a fan favorite. Making a trade for Johnny Cueto is a bit more simple in nature.
Cueto is 35 years old and is a member of the San Francisco Giants. He is in the final year of his current contract and has a club option in 2022 that does come with a $5 million buyout. So he remains as a potential rental if the Astros just wanted him for 2021.
Looking at Cueto’s stats makes it seem like he had an abrupt decline. However, he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018 and that wiped out most of his 2019 season as well. Yet this is still a pitcher with a career 3.41 ERA.
The Giants should want to move him now, as he is no longer in their long-term plans, and he would actively help an Astros staff that is without Justin Verlander and potentially without Framber Valdez for a good chunk of the season.
Cueto is also looking solid so far in two starts with 14 strikeouts and a 2.51 ERA early in the season.
Trading Correa would not be a popular move among fans, but remains the smart move if the Astros aren’t going to pay the shortstop what he wants. As for Cueto, the Astros can add a veteran arm and still chase a World Series title without Correa in town.