Luhnow talks Astros and Trade Deadline
With two weeks remaining before the July 31 non-tender Trade Deadline, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow on Friday discussed the likelihood his team makes a trade:
Q: In general, what are your thoughts as the Trade Deadline approaches?
A: “I think our viewpoint is we want to give this team a chance to compete this year and we’re there. We may have a piece or two we can add between now and July 31 – it may not come until August – but if we feel like there’s an opportunity that presents itself to improve this ballclub and give us a better chance to get to the playoffs, a better chance to perform in the playoffs, we’d be foolish not to look at it hard. Having said that, we need to balance short-term gains with long-term planning. Anything we do is going to come at a cost, and I’m not talking about financially; I’m talking about talent acquisition. We need to be cognizant of what the impact might be on us in 2016 and beyond. A lot being discussed, a lot being thought about, but I think this is a market that’s slow to develop this year and will probably pick up steam now that the All-Star Game is behind us.”
Q: What’s your focus on what you want to do?
A: “Really, it comes down to improving this team’s chances to make the playoffs and perform in the playoffs. Have George [Springer] out now hurts. Hopefully Jed coming back will help us. Our starting pitching has been pretty good, but you can always use another starter, especially in the playoffs. Our bullpen has been solid all year. You can always use another good bullpen arm as well. We’re really not limiting ourselves to any one area. We’re going to look at each opportunity and evaluate how we think he can help this team right now.”
Q: Has hitting become more of a concern?
A: “I’d say so. You take the bat out of George’s hand for a long period of time, and it changes our lineup. It changes the way the opposition looks at our team. If we can do something to replace that… Now with Jed [Lowrie] hopefully coming back soon, that will be a boost, and [Luis] Valbuena getting healthy and Chris Carter starting to swing the bat the way we know he’s capable off – and I think that’s going to start soon – the offense could pick up. We still lead in home runs and stolen bases and we’d like to see the batting average come up because it means we’re making more consistent contact. I think we will in the second half.”
Q: Because the team is where it’s at, do you feel pressure to get a piece or two?
A: “I’m not going to say we have to do something because everything we do comes at a price and we have to evaluate it. We certainly have to explore all the opportunities that are going to be in front of us. We’re working hard, we’re talking to all the other clubs and a lot of them haven’t made a decision yet whether they’re going to move anything or whether they’re still going for it. We have to wait for some of that to resolve itself. I feel the obligation to do the work, to make sure we’re in a position to make the best decision possible and if that means adding a piece for this year and giving up some prospects to do it, we’re going to have to cross that bridge when we get to it, and I’m sure some of those opportunities are going to be in front of us.”
Q: What is the market like right now?
A: “I’d say because of the additional Wild Card and because of the parity in both leagues, quite frankly, a lot of clubs are waiting to see and haven’t declared themselves one way or another. It doesn’t mean that conversations aren’t taking place, and it doesn’t mean that teams like us that are in more of a buying mode aren’t preparing ourselves and heavily scouting the players we think can help us, but what it does mean is we haven’t seen a lot of transactions lately. Seattle made one move; there’s been a couple of minor moves, but there haven’t been the big transactions pre-All-Star Game that we’ve seen from other years. They’re coming. There’s no doubt in my mind there’s going to be a market and some big trades made, but it may be closer than the 31st than the 1st.”