Home News Dana Brown hopes to upgrade Astros offense at Trade Deadline

Dana Brown hopes to upgrade Astros offense at Trade Deadline

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This story was excerpted from Brian McTaggart’s Astros Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Astros general manager Dana Brown will have his first real chance to put his stamp on the club in the next two months with the MLB Draft in mid-July and the Trade Deadline a couple of weeks later. Brown, hired just before Spring Training began, admitted as much this week, saying he would ultimately be judged by his roster management, the Draft and the Trade Deadline.

Brown, a scout at heart, has spent many nights on the road the last couple of months scouting 18 players the Astros may consider taking in the first round of the MLB Draft, but the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline will provide him an immediate chance to impact the Major League roster. The Astros figure to be in the market for a starting pitcher after losing three starters — Lance McCullers Jr., José Urquidy and Luis Garcia — to significant injuries, but Brown said adding a bat is a growing priority.

After all, the Astros, despite their injuries, entered Thursday leading the Major Leagues in team ERA and had allowed the fewest runs. They have an elite bullpen and perhaps the best 1-2 combination at the top of any rotation in Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier. Rookie Hunter Brown has been solid, and the unproven arms at the bottom of the rotation are holding their own.

“Our top three guys are really good — Valdez, Javier and Brown,” Dana Brown said. “That’s good to roll into the postseason with, but if we can add to that, that would be good.”

Which brings us back to an offense that’s been extremely inconsistent. The Astros are currently 13th in the Major Leagues in runs scored, 20th in OPS, and tied for 15th in home runs. To make matters worse, slugger Yordan Alvarez left Thursday’s loss to the Blue Jays with right oblique discomfort and has landed on the injured list.

“Everybody keeps talking about pitching, but our pitching is still No. 1 and has been pretty good,” Brown said. “It may not be a bad idea to add a really good bat. When we score five runs or more, we’re really good (30-4 entering Thursday). … We’ll take a look and see what’s best for the team at the time, whether it’s a pitcher or hitter and how much we have to give up.”

The most logical position to add a bat to the lineup would be at first base, where offseason acquisition José Abreu has been a disappointment. Houston appears willing to stick with him in the lineup for the time being. Left field is a spot where there could be at-bats, especially with Michael Brantley having missed almost an entire year. Alvarez and Corey Julks have gotten the most starts in left field (Alvarez has the most starts at DH).

“Trust me, if we find a hitter, Dusty [Baker] will find at-bats for him, I promise you that,” Brown said. “Whether it’s left field, DH … It just depends on who we go get. He’ll find some at-bats.”

Still, expect the Astros to be active in the pitching trade market. Astros owner Jim Crane, who has to sign off on any major trade, won’t sit still at the Deadline if the Astros have a need.

“We’ll still entertain it if there’s some pitching available that makes sense,” Brown said. “It’s still a little early.”

Brown is having regular meetings with his assistant GMs and other members of his scouting department to discuss possible trade scenarios. The Astros may have to give up one of their younger outfielders, along with a prospect or two to pull off a deal. Catching prospect Korey Lee seems to be a candidate to get dealt following the emergence of catcher Yainer Diaz, and there’s a bevy of talent at Double-A, including pitchers Spencer Arrighetti, Colton Gordon and Rhett Kouba. Expect outfielders Joey Loperfido and Quincy Hamilton and infielder Zach Dezenzo to draw trade interest, as well.

“I know there’s going to be some big asks,” Brown said. “But, at the same time, we’ll make an assessment what the wise thing is to do for the organization. We’re always looking to build and get stronger.”

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