Astros stand pat at Trade Deadline
GM Wade says club was not anticipating any moves
ST. LOUIS -- There could be a case made that the Astros made the least noise of any Major League team prior to Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
None of Houston's players were mentioned in any legitimate trade speculation, and team management made it clear it wasn't in position to make a trade of any impact. So it wasn't surprising the Astros let Friday's deadline pass without any activity.
"We had conversations with a couple of clubs the last few days and there were some ideas back and forth, but nothing that led us anywhere, as we had anticipated," general manager Ed Wade said. "The asking price on premium guys was very high from the standpoint of prospects, and recognizing what our payroll situation was and the fact we're trying to protect younger players, we didn't anticipate anything of any magnitude.
"There were a couple of smaller things we talked about that didn't play. The fact [Bud] Norris is up there now and pitching in the rotation should give us a boost, and we need to get healthy and move forward with the core guys we have."
Wade certainly hasn't been shy to change the look of the team in recent years, making a flurry of impact deals after he was hired in August 2007. Last year near the Trade Deadline, he acquired starting pitcher Randy Wolf and reliever LaTroy Hawkins.
The Astros might have been more willing to listen to offers for shortstop Miguel Tejada, closer Jose Valverde and Hawkins this year had they not been in contention. All three are free agents at season's end.
Prior to Wade's arrival, the Astros acquired Ty Wigginton near the deadline in 2007 and Aubrey Huff in 2006, but they haven't been involved in a significant swap of talent since they sent Scott Elarton to the Rockies on July 31, 2001, in exchange for Pedro Astacio.
Houston's biggest Trade Deadline deal, of course, came in 1998, when the Astros sent prospects Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen and John Halama to the Mariners in exchange for Randy Johnson. The Big Unit went 10-1 down the stretch to help the Astros win the division, but in the long run, giving up Garcia and Guillen opened them up to some second-guessing.
The Astros' farm system, which had been debilitated in a series of trades prior to Wade's arrival, is slowly improving after a pair of solid Drafts. Wade wants to see the growth continue, which is one of the reasons why he didn't make any trades this year.
Also, the Astros began the season with a payroll around $105 million and are unwilling to take on additional big contracts. Wade is content to fill any needs the team has through Minor League callups, such as bringing up Norris earlier this week.
Any deals made the rest of the season must involve players who have cleared waivers. The player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams, he cannot be traded. The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player.
Teams that are in the playoff hunt must have their rosters set by Sept. 1, so don't be surprised if some deals are made during the next month. Just don't expect the Astros to get involved.
"The bottom line doesn't change," Wade said. "From the standpoint of payroll and depth of the prospects in the system, neither one of those things are going to change. If there's something we think makes sense to propose to another club we'll do that, and we'll be responsive to anything that comes our way."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.