Astros veterans (except C. Lee) playing well enough to trade this summer

Houston Astros people say they aren't even thinking about a sale of their veteran name players. Not yet, anyway.

And truthfully, you can't blame them for that. Not only are the Astros a surprisingly OK 15-19 so far this year, they've outscored their opponents, 143-137.

But while Astros officials won't say it, it's logical to believe the Astros won't ultimately contend, and it's just as logical to assume they will re-visit trades for veteran players nobody seemed to want this winter -- at least not at their high salaries.

And guess what? For the most part, their veteran players are cooperating by having very nice starts to their years. In fact, in a trade market that's likely to be saturated with buyers and contain few seller the Astros might have the chance to unload multiple big contracts, especially if they are willing to subsidize them in part.

One competing executive rated their three name veterans who are trade possibilities in this order, providing brief comments ...
1. Wandy Rodriguez. "Lefthanded starter with innings and swing-and-miss stuff.''

2. Brett Myers. "Stuff has improved in the bullpen.'

3. Carlos Lee. "Last as a DH and first base type.''

Rodriguez actually has been so good thus far that his $13-million salary looks almost reasonable. Rodriguez is only 3-3 but he has a 1.99 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and .205 batting average against -- all superb numbers. The previous regime probably should have worked a trade when the Rockies claimed him last year, but at least Houston's bargaining position has improved since the winter when there were basically no takers. The one caveat is the $13-million option for 2014 that transforms from a club option to player option in the event of a trade.

Myers is doing so well in his new role as closer he looks like he can help a lot of teams, especially in a year when closers are getting hit or getting hurt at an alarming rate. Myers has converted nine of 10 save opportunities, justifying his move from the rotation. His salary also is not exactly low, though, as he makes $11 million this year and has a $3-million buyout on next year's $10-million team option.

As a bonus, Brandon Lyon, one of the most overpaid middle relievers in baseball the past three years, is finally healthy and productive enough where someone may take a look at him. Lyon, 0-1 with a 2.19 ERA, has a $5.5-million salary, which looks like a mistake (well, technically, it was), so the Astros would have to pay all or most of it to trade him.

The slugger Lee remains a tough one to trade, as the competing exec suggested. He has two home runs, 14 RBI and a .269 batting average, numbers that only look good compared to Albert Pujols. Lee also has an $18-million salary, the result of having signed in one of those ultra-flush years.

Additionally, he can reject trades to 14 of the other 29 teams. And according to people familiar with the situation, he badly wants to remain in Houston and showed no sign to waive it this winter when a rare team showed interest. There is said to have been a brief chance for a deal with Milwaukee months ago, but that fell through, if not for the no-trade clause than other reasons.

But even if they are stuck with Lee, the Astros should be a popular team come trade time. Which isn't yet, Astros people will remind you.

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