Five reasons the Houston Astros should trade Chris Carter

  • David Whitlock
Carter's future may be bright Credit: AP/Orlin Wagner

Carter’s future may be bright with another team
Credit: AP/Orlin Wagner

The usually dormant Houston Astros (at least recently) agreed to one of their bigger trades in recent memory today, reportedly swapping three prospects (including the fire-throwing Michael Foltynewicz) to the suddenly rebuilding Atlanta Braves for C/LF/1B Evan Gattis.  The move for Gattis makes sense, given the Astros could use him in multiple defensive positions, or Designated Hitter which might enable him to get ABs if worn down.  But this leaves the Astros in a quandary.  They have another OF/1B of similar ilk in Chris Carter.  Also a right handed bat, Carter has teased the Astros (as well as the Oakland Athletics before) with huge power potential.  The tease is that he struggles to put the ball in play.  All or nothing didn’t fit money ball, and won’t fit the Astros model going forward.  Here are five reasons the Astros should trade Chris Carter at once.

1) Limited defensive skills

Chris Carter is a liability at any position he plays in the field.  Experiments to place him in the real-estate friendly left field of Minute Maid Park didn’t pan out.  At first base, he’s only a slight upgrade from Jon Singleton.  He then clogs the DH spot for those days you want to rest one of our regulars…or Evan Gattis.

2) This may actually be a “sell high” situation

Q: Name the three players who had more home runs in 2014 than Jose Abreu and Mike Trout?
A: Nelson Cruz, Giancarlo Stanton, and Chris Carter

Carter hit 37 bombs in 2014.  He was the American League player of the week in August.  His batting average was nearly 50 points higher the second half, as well.  You can sell these facts to a team that wants to buy (and get value).

3) The lineup needs more Altuves and less Carters

The Houston Astros young, rebuilding lineup has struggled to produce runs.  A very high contributing factor is the young hitters (led by Carter) striking out.  A lot.  Not moving runners up, putting balls in play, forcing the defense to do something.  Their 1,442 strikeouts led the AL (now two straight seasons).  Their .242 average was also bottom.  They need more guys in the lineup to put the ball in play than they need guys to crank home runs (for which they finished 3rd in the AL in 2014).  More 2014 batting champion Jose Altuve, and less 2013 strikeouts leader Chris Carter makes sense.

4) If it ain’t fixed by age 28…

The Astros grabbed Carter with the idea that if he could hit just .270 or .280, it might be huge.  It hasn’t happened.  His career batting average is still .222.  He’s been first or second in the league in strikeouts the past two years (despite not playing full time, ~500 at bats per season).  There’s just no reason to think the light is going to turn on suddenly.  What you see is what you get.  Let the other team get it.

5) His club control is nearing an end

The Astros are shrewd in monitoring whom they have “control” over (i.e. before free agent eligibility).  Evan Gattis is still under control four more years.  Carter is just three.  In three years, the Astros are hoping that Jon Singleton is their 1B, Evan Gattis is their 1B/DH, and they have other prospect help.  They could ride out Carter for three more years, but move him now and you offer opportunity to get ABs for guys that help you in 2019-2020.  Few people see Carter as the key cog in a 2017 run.  Cut bait.

The trade should be for a major-league ready left-handed bat.  One that might be a plus defender in left field.  Or an arm to replace Foltynewicz.  But Chris Carter is expendable, and affordable to the team receiving (first year of arbitration this year).

– David Whitlock

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David Whitlock

David Whitlock - manager

David (a.k.a. Longhorndave or lhd_on_sports) joined the staff late in the 2012 season and moved to Site Manager in early 2013. A lifelong Houston Astros fan (and mini-season ticket holder for 9 years) he attends 20+ games per year. A statistics freak, David still keeps score the "old fashioned way" on occasion (and has kept manual score of World Series games since 1986 and retains the sheets). He was a featured guest weekly on the Phil Naessens Show. He is also a Texas Longhorns alumnus and huge football and baseball fan of his alma mater. When he isn't watching or writing about baseball, he works as a contractor at NASA Johnson Space Center. He lives by the mantra "a bad day at the ballpark is better than a good day anywhere else."

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