Dec. 18: At least six clubs have reached out to the Astros to check in on Valdez’s potential availability, writes Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Houston isn’t actively seeking to trade Valdez but has at least listened to offers on him.
Dec. 15: Front office personnel from opposing teams are “monitoring” the possibility of the Astros trading star left-hander Framber Valdez, writes Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic. The 30-year-old is coming off his second straight top 10 Cy Young finish.
It’s unsurprising to hear opposing clubs are keeping their eye on Valdez. He’d be an upgrade for any rotation in MLB. He has reached 31 starts in each of the past two seasons, leading the American League with 201 1/3 innings back in 2022. Valdez has paired that volume with excellent results, working to a 3.40 ERA over parts of six seasons in the big leagues. He has allowed 3.13 earned runs per nine over the past three years, striking out 23.5% of batters faced and keeping the ball on the ground at a massive 63% clip.
Given that level of success, plenty of teams would be interested if the Astros put Valdez on the trade market. There’s no indication the Houston front office is seriously entertaining that possibility at this point. In response to trade chatter about third baseman Alex Bregman, Houston GM Dana Brown flatly shot down the idea at the Winter Meetings, saying the team is “trying to win here.”
The club could take a similar stance on Valdez. He’s arguably the best pitcher on a team with championship aspirations. Houston’s rotation is solid but has taken some injury hits in recent months. Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. are each expected to miss roughly half the season as they rehab arm surgeries. The Astros reacquired Justin Verlander to join Valdez and Cristian Javier in the rotation’s top three. José Urquidy joins second-year pitchers Hunter Brown and J.P. France as possibilities at the back end.
Any argument in favor of a Valdez trade is tied to Houston’s payroll outlook. Roster Resource projects the club for a payroll around $222MM, well above last year’s approximate $180MM Opening Day figure. They’re projected right at the $237MM luxury tax threshold, which they haven’t surpassed since 2020. Dana Brown has been rather forthright about the limited money at the front office’s disposal.
MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects Valdez for a $12.1MM salary in his third of four arbitration seasons. With a typically strong…