Houston has a logjam of starting pitching and the Phillies could take advantage of that in trade talks
Varying reports are connecting the Houston Astros to Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, which could create one of the better starting rotations in modern day history, rivaling the Phillies group in 2011. If the Astros do add Cole they’ll have a staff of Justin Verlander, Dallas Kuechel, Lance McCullers, Cole, and former Phillie Charlie Morton.
Adding Cole leaves Collin McHugh, Brad Peacock, Joe Musgrove, and other young arms on the outside looking in. McHugh is an interesting name the Astros could potentially dangle in trades to restock their farm system, and the Phillies should be interested.
Just 30-years-old McHugh dealt with a dead arm and posterior impingement in his right elbow last year but managed to make 12 starts and appear in Game 5 of the World Series.
McHugh is certainly not an ace, but he can be a good number three starter in a major league rotation. Prior to his arm injuries last year he posted three strong seasons in Houston, including a 19-win season in 2015 when he finished eighth in the Cy Young.
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Given the Astros depth and McHugh’s injury history the trade price should be extremely high for Matt Klentak. A mid-level prospect, perhaps Angelo Mora, should get the deal done.
McHugh has two years of team control before being free agent eligible prior to the 2020 season. He’s arbitration eligible after earning short of $4 million last year, and his number shouldn’t go up much.
If McHugh does join Philadelphia’s rotation it gives them a double-digit win arm along with Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff. Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ben Lively, and others will compete for spots in the starting rotation but Klentak has been outspoken in his desire to add a starting pitcher.
McHugh isn’t a splashy addition, but he’s an experienced pitcher with a World Series ring and a history of success. If Klentak, who has a history of trading with Houston, can get a deal done it dramatically improves the starting rotation at little to no cost.