Luhnow open to acquiring a hitter
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Tuesday the club has opened up a lot more conversations about adding a hitter to their lineup, in addition to the quest to find a starting pitcher and perhaps even a reliever via trade.
The Astros could get infielder Jed Lowrie back from his thumb injury as soon as next week. He’s scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Wednesday at Double-A Corpus Christi. Right-fielder George Springer (fractured wrist) is still about a month away from returning.
Without Springer, the Astros’ offense has scuffled, with the exception of Sunday’s 10-run outburst against the Rangers.
“We’re looking at every avenue,” Luhnow said. “Our priority so far has been on pitching, but I think we’ve opened up a lot more conversations regarding position players, and right now we’re having conversations about starters, relievers and bats.”
Luhnow said he’s not going to trade for a pitcher who will be a free agent at the end of the year with the expectation they’re going to sign him long term. But he said that once they play in the air-conditioned comfort of Minute Maid Park and reap the benefit from no state income tax, he’s hoping Houston becomes a place they want to stay.
“Those sorts of things all sell themselves, but we wouldn’t make a move assuming that we’re going to get long-term deals done,” he said. “Having said that, would we be OK giving up some future value to acquire a player we think could help us this year that we know is probably not going to sign here? Yeah, we probably wouldn’t. It all depends on what the cost is.”
Luhnow said he’s surprised there haven’t been any major deals yet, but he said there’s a lot of chatter in advance of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. He said he’s been in contract with every club for the most part, talking about what pieces they might be willing to move and what they’re looking for.
“Those discussions are time-consuming and they’re in conversations with other clubs as well, so it takes a while to sort through it,” he said. “We’re doing our work and we’re hopeful that we can figure out a situation to improve this team and give us a better chance to both reach the playoffs and do some damage in the playoffs this year.”
Luhnow said he’s confident that with the way the roster is constructed now, including the players on the disabled list and those in Triple-A who have helped at various points this year, that could be enough for the Astros to make the playoffs. But the Astros, like all teams in contention, place a premium on winning the division and not having to play the Wild Card game if possible, so he’s going go be aggressive.
“Timing is certainly part of how you play this whole thing,” he said. “You can strike early and you might be able to get a deal that’s not available later and get the guy you want and take him off the market, or you wait until a couple of more guys become available later on. You read the tea leaves with a lot of discussion out there and listen to the chatter and reporting back to us, and we’re having a lot of conversations ourselves. We’re doing what we can. When the time is right, we’ll strike if a deal looks good.”