Texas Rangers rumors: The MLB trade deadline is just over a week away, and Mike Minor has been talked about as someone buyers could pursue, with Mike Axisa listing Minor at #7 on his rankings of the top potential trade targets for the Houston Astros. The Astros have a comfortable lead in the American League West right now, but are rumored to be seeking starting pitching, as there are thin behind Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley.
As Axisa notes, Minor is a high spin rate guy, and the Astros have put a heavy emphasis on spin rate in their pitching acquisitions. In addition, with Minor being under contract through 2020, it would provide the Astros some rotation insurance past this year, which is helpful given that Cole and Miley are free agents after the season.
The question for the Rangers, however, is whether the Astros would part with a package that would be worth dealing Minor for. Yordan Alvarez has had a great season and is now ensconced in the Astros lineup, so it seems unlikely he would be dealt. The Astros have also been reluctant to part with AAA left fielder Kyle Tucker, their other top position prospect — the Rangers were reportedly not that high on Tucker when he was in the 2015 draft, and they passed on him in favor of Dillon Tate at #4.
The Astros’ top pitching prospects, meanwhile, have had disastrous campaigns so far in 2019. Forrest Whitley was considered by some to be the top pitching prospect in baseball coming into the year, but put up a 12.21 ERA in 8 games for Round Rock, went on the injured list, and has struggled in two GCL rehab games in July, including a July 19th outing where he walked 6 of the 15 batters he faced. Whitley has in the past deemed untouchable, and his current struggles would mean Houston, if they traded him, would be selling low...and if the Astros would be willing to sell low on Whitley right now, it would seem to raise a major red flag for a potential buyer about Whitley’s outlook.
Their two other upper level prize pitching prospects, Corbin Martin and J.B. Bukauskas, have also hit bumps. Martin underwent Tommy John surgery and is likely out until 2021, while Bukauskas has a 5.57 ERA for AA Corpus and has 48 walks in 76 IP, leading to concerns he may end up a bullpen piece.
The Astros have attractive trade pieces beyond those five, but they are generally farther away, and it would appear to be difficult to put together a package for Minor headed up by one of them. I’m sure the Astros have interest in Minor, and he’s a good fit for what they are seeking, but I’m not sure if the pieces they would be willing to part with to land him would be enticing enough for the Rangers to move him.