If you are an Astros fan, you should be beaming with joy after Jeff Luhnow signed outfielder Michael Brantley. This was a move that Luhnow and the Astros were practicing patience. After the Andrew McCutchen deal, it set the market to sign an outfielder like Brantley. Instead of jumping the gun, Luhnow waited patiently for Brantley to settle for two-years.
Now Kyle Tucker loses his starting gig in left field for now unless the Astros plan on trading Josh Reddick. After signing a $52 million 4-year deal with the Astros back in 2017, he is still owed $26 million for the next two years. His offense took a step back in 2018, but he is still the starting right fielder. The team could look to trade him.
Brantley can play some first base, but he will only get spot starts over there. This leaves no place for Tucker to play for the next two seasons when all the current starters will become free agents. Where does Tucker play? He could become the 4th or 5th outfielder, but where does Tony Kemp or Jake Marisnick fit? Plus, do you want your young star coming off the bench his first full season?
Change of heart?
After saying for a while that they would not trade Kyle Tucker, could they have changed their mind? While they have all the faith in the world in Tucker, saying he could still compete for an outfield spot in 2019 if they signed a veteran player. Technically, he could beat out Reddick for the starting gig, but that would be a lot to pay for a fourth outfielder. However, you want to put your best bats out there.
The depth in the outfield is now massive. Technically, someone can split time with Tyler White in the DH spot. That would change if they did sign Nelson Cruz as well. They still have a hole in the rotation and possibly like to add a starting catcher to the mix. Someone who makes sense is Marlins catcher, J.T. Realmuto. He had made sense for a few years now, but there has been a sticking point.
The daily Realmuto : Can confirm Astros did make contact w Marlins. Can’t go much beyond that unfortunately. @JoeFrisaro noted this earlier. Wish I had something juicy that could get a denial from someone but not today unfortunately. % updated.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) December 18, 2018
The sticking point has been the Marlins desire to get Tucker. As I said on Talking Stros, Realmuto would be an Astro if they would have given up Tucker. Bringing in a hometown-ish type player who could be a superstar would reinvigorate baseball in Miami. Should the Astros sign another bat soon, such as Cruz or the long shot of Bryce Harper, then Tucker becomes available.
It does not make sense to trade seven years of Tucker for two years of Realmuto, but he is a special player. He is an excellent catcher ho can hit for power and average. The Astros could also ask for the 72-hour negotiation window to work out an extension.
The #Astros are back in the mix for #Marlins J.T. Realmuto. Top prospect Kyle Tucker remains a target for a potential deal. The #Padres also have interest, along with #Dodgers #Rays and more. Hard to say if there is a frontrunner at this point. Multiple teams involved.— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) December 18, 2018
Extending Realmuto would offset the loss of Tucker.
It would take more than just Tucker to get the deal done, but not any other top 10 prospects. The Marlins have been asking for the sky. Luhnow has been patient so far, but soon we may see how much he wants to add Realmuto. Joe Frisaro just reported that the Astros were still in on Realmuto. Craig Mish gives them a 5% chance of trading for Realmuto.
Realmuto % Opening Day 2019— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) December 18, 2018
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The main reason to not trade Tucker is that all of the starting outfielders would be free agents after 2020. Maybe they can work around trading Tucker. Maybe a deal doesn’t get done at all, and the Astros use Robinson Chirinos and Max Stassi. By signing Chirinos, the Marlins can't hold the desperation card over the Astros head.
Bregman seemed excited about some big news coming soon. Could it be a Realmuto trade? Could it be them signing Bryce Harper? Maybe they are finally going to get a new starting pitcher. Maybe Bregman wasn’t talking about a new player at all. There are still a few moves out there to be made.