HOUSTON -- With one week remaining before the Trade Deadline, it’s becoming increasingly likely the Astros will make a move to address their bullpen, which has easily been their weak spot this year. They have an All-Star closer in Ryan Pressly but need to find more reliable ways to get him the ball with the lead.
Entering Friday, Pressly had a 1.35 ERA and one blown save, and the remainder of the bullpen combined for a 4.54 ERA and 18 blown saves.
Astros general manager James Click spoke with the media prior to Friday’s game against the Rangers about the club’s thinking as the Trade Deadline approaches.
Q: What’s the latest on trade discussions?
A: “Fairly standard for this time of year. I think a lot of teams want to wait until the very end, just to make sure there’s not a better deal around the corner or something else happens. Right now, it’s a lot groundwork, a lot of very productive conversations. We’ve been very open with teams about where we are and what our priorities are, and we’ll see what the next week brings. The lack of movement thus far, I don’t think is an indication of anything.”
Q: Is pitching your foremost priority?
A: “As always, we’ll listen on anything and ask on anything. There are areas of the roster that are easier to upgrade than others. Our offense has certainly been very, very good this year, and I think our starting pitching’s been very, very good. Ryan Pressly’s been outstanding. We still think we have a lot of talent out there in the bullpen, but it’s our responsibility to make sure that we seek every opportunity to upgrade this roster, and there are some areas that are a little easier than others.”
Q: How much does the impending return of veteran relief pitchers Pedro Báez and Josh James from the injured list impact your thinking?
A: “We’re certainly expecting them to improve the roster, and we’re really looking forward to having them back, but at the same time, we’re not going to rely on that to be the move we make at the Deadline. This roster is demanding our attention. I think it’s put itself in a very good position to compete for a World Series championship, and we feel a lot of responsibility to help that out.”
Q: How do you assess your rotation depth, and how will that perhaps impact the possible search for a starter, especially with several pitchers approaching career highs in innings pitched?
A: “We have a lot of quality pitching -- a lot of quality starting pitching. It’s an area we’re going to continue to assess, just given the unique nature of the season, going from 60 games to 162. It’s something none of us have ever been through before. It’s a constant conversation with our pitching coaches, our strength and conditioning guys, our trainers. We need to make sure these guys are healthy for hopefully more than 162, and that’s really where the conversation has to be right now.”
Q: How would you asses the state of the bullpen market right now?
A: “We’re have a lot of conversations. It’s hard to assess where the market is exactly. There are certainly some players that seem more accessible than others. Usually, that goes with quality. The job right now is to try to find the guys that we really like that we can acquire for prices that don’t set us back too far in the future.”
Q: Do you feel the urgency to make a move or two to get this team where you want it to be?
A: “I don’t think urgency is the right word. But at the same time, we know how good this team is. I think the guys have done everything they can to put themselves in a position to compete for a playoff spot and a World Series spot. These opportunities are rarer than we like to admit sometimes. And so when you have a real chance like this, all of us feel a responsibility to do what we can to supplement, to make sure that we give ourselves the best chance to hoist that trophy at the end of the year.”