Jeff Luhnow didn’t have to do anything for the Astros to make the postseason in 2017. As it stands they have a 15-game lead in the American League West with a little more than 50 games remaining. Barring a major collapse, the Astros will make the playoffs.
But to win the pennant and advance to the World Series they could have used a little bit of help. They tried to get it. They tried and thought they had succeeded. But a failed deal with the Orioles for 2016 Cy Young finalist Zach Britton, and a second failed deal for an unnamed player, left them with Francisco Liriano and false promises.
Details have emerged on the failed deals and the consensus is pretty simple among insiders: the Astros got too attached to their prospects.
“The explanation for the Astros coming up empty is more about their longstanding stance on their top prospects, others insist,” Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported. “They just weren’t willing to surrender their top prospects in some cases, rival execs said. ‘The Astros had the (young) players to make a deal,’ said one other rival GM. ‘They have a good farm system.'”
Ken Rosenthal suggested the same thing: “The Astros’ failures at the deadline were not for lack of effort. But they made six to seven prospects off-limits in discussions for Britton and Padres left-hander Brad Hand, sources said.”
So when the Astros thought they had a deal for Britton only to get it nixed after medicals were exchanged it begs the questions: If the Astros were trying to deal players with medical questions were they simply trying to pawn off players in an effort to outsmart their trade partners? Does that really qualify as trying to get a deal done?
Owner Jim Crane certainly wasn’t happy about deals not getting done and one in particular that got nixed.
“We had a couple of other deals on the plate,” he told ESPN 97.5 Radio in Houston. “They were agreed on in principle. Then medicals were exchanged and they got vetoed at the top.”
The problem, though, is that multiple sources have said the deal for Britton with the Orioles never got to the top. This could have been in reference to another trade. So why again would Houston, knowing the Orioles were willing to trade Britton, not offer a good enough deal to get it brought to the owner of the team? If this was another deal why wouldn’t they go all-in on a trade that could help them win a World Series?
The Astros didn’t get help at the deadline beyond Liriano (who tossed 1/3 of an inning allowing a hit, a walk and a run in his debut Thursday), and it looks like they were trying a lot harder to outsmart teams than boost their World Series prospects.
Dallas Keuchel said to call the trade deadline a ‘disappointment’ was an understatement. After the reported details how the Astros approached the deadline, it’s hard to argue with him.