While the rest of the playoff contenders have been tweaking and tuning up in the lead-up to the trade deadline, the Astros had been strangely silent even as they sit on one of the deeper collections of minor league talent in the league. Houston finally made its first trade of the month in the final hours before the deadline, adding long-time starter Francisco Liriano in an attempt to help the club's bullpen.
In the trade, Houston dealt from a position of strength and surplus. Teoscar Hernandez ranked as the team's No. 8 prospect at the midseason, but that made him only the fourth-highest ranked outfielder in the organization. With George Springer entrenched in Houston, Josh Reddick signed through 2020 and Derek Fisher showing he's ready for a big league role, Hernandez was a valuable but tradeable commodity for Houston.
BLUE JAYS ACQUIRE
Teoscar Hernandez, of
A trade gives Teoscar Hernandez a chance to break free of what was a logjam of outfielders in the upper levels of the Astros' system. Hernandez is a versatile outfielder who has the speed and range to play above-average defense center field and the arm to be a plus defender in right. He's had a rather winding path to the big leagues. He impressed as a power/speed center fielder in Class A in 2013 and 2014, then saw his swing fall apart in Double-A in 2015. After that season he was left unprotected and unpicked in the Rule 5 draft. With a vastly improved two-strike approach and pitch recognition in 2016, Hernandez remade himself as a prospect, showing a significantly improved hit tool while losing little of his power. Hernandez should at least be a useful fourth outfielder because of his glove. While he was passed by Derek Fisher as a prospect for the Astros (and was being pushed by Kyle Tucker just a level below him), he should fit well in Toronto as a significant part of the Blue Jays' suddenly rebuilding lineup.
|Nori Aoki, of
Even though Aoki is 35 years old, because he came over from Japan after a significant career, he is still only arbitration eligible at the end of the 2017 season. However with a $5.5 million salary and considering his age, he's likely to be a non-tender candidate this offseason. His inclusion in the trade is likely more to do with balancing payroll rather than any significant upgrade for the Blue Jays.
Francisco Liriano, lhp
Liriano is on the move for the third time at the trade deadline. He was sent from the Twins to the White Sox in 2012 and then from the Pirates to the Blue Jays last year. But this trade will likely lead to a change of role for the lefthander. A starter throughout his 12-year major league career, Liriano fits much better as a reliever for the Astros given his heavy diet of sliders that should be very tough on lefthanded hitters in matchup situations. This year lefties are hitting .230/.254/.361 against the 33-year-old. That will be a very good fit for an Astros bullpen that could use the help. Houston's lineup has been outstanding this year and even with some injuries, the starting rotation has been solid. But once the Astros' bullpen gets past Ken Giles and Chris Devenski, the rest of the bullpen has been rather shaky. Houston has been particularly righthanded in the bullpen this year while the Astros' lefty relievers have been especially ineffective. Tony Sipp and Reymin Guduan have not inspired confidence.