According to Bob Nightengale, the Astros are at least willing to entertain offers on their star pitcher Framber Valdez, even if they don’t plan on trading him this offseason.
“The Houston Astros don’t plan to trade co-ace Framber Valdez, at least not this winter, but they are listening, with more than five teams already checking in on him,” Nightengale writes.
Now, some might ask, “Why the hell would they want to do something like that?”
As with a lot of things in sports, it comes down to money. The Astros aren’t typically a team that is willing to go into the luxury tax, and they have a number of guys that need to be paid. It has been reported several times that they could potentially trade star third baseman Alex Bregman. If they’re willing to do that, it makes a lot of sense that they would at least consider moving Valdez, who is under contract for two more seasons.
There are several marquee names currently floating around on the trade block. Dylan Cease has been tied to the Braves, and 2021 NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes is also expected to be dealt this offseason. However, if the Astros are seriously listening to offers for Valdez, nobody would be a better fit for the Braves because of his talent, multiple years of control, durability, and postseason experience.
Unfortunately, when a player with all of that becomes available, GMs across the league raise their eyebrows in excitement. Every competing club should want to acquire a starting pitcher like Valdez, meaning the prospect haul required will be monumental.
Zachary D. Rymer of Bleacher Report recently went through the top 10 potential landing spots for Framber Valdez, though, and the Braves clocked in fairly high on his list at number five. He also came up with a potential trade proposal.
It feels like forever ago that Atlanta was connected to Aaron Nola in free agency before he re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, but the club’s pursuit for an impact starter is ongoing.
According to Nightengale, Atlanta is the other favorite for Cease alongside the Orioles. Should Baltimore beat them to the punch, a pivot to Valdez would make some sense.
Atlanta’s infield defense isn’t as good as you might think, but Valdez’s sheer reliability should appeal to them if nothing else does. Though Atlanta’s rotation was good on the whole in 2023, it completely deteriorated with a 5.10 ERA in the second half.
Trade Proposal: Atlanta gets LHP Framber Valdez; Houston Astros get RHP AJ Smith-Shawver, RHP Hurston Waldrep, RHP JR Ritchie
Atlanta may only have the No. 25 system in MLB, but it’s rich with pitching. This trade would net Houston its No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 prospects, and Smith-Shawver would be ready to help right away in 2024.
I concur completely with Rymer’s trade hypothetical. This is what it’s going to take for an ace with multiple years of control, and it may even take more than that. It’s almost exactly what I projected when I came up with a Braves hypothetical trade for Dylan Cease.
Braves Receive: Dylan Cease
The only difference is the White Sox are much more likely to deal Cease this offseason, given their amid a total rebuild. The Astros are smack dab in the middle of a championship window. If a team is going to pry Framber Valdez away from them two years before he hits free agency, it’s going to take a king’s ransom.
However, if this is all it took, I would expect the Braves to heavily consider it. Sure, it would completely deplete their farm system, but they would have incredible pitching depth for two shots at another World Series, and they should have enough money to make a serious run at retaining Valdez long term.
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