When the Astros traded a Player To Be Named (PTBN) to the Cincinnati Reds for infielder Jeff Keppinger, it was widely considered to be a pretty darned good move. We’d filled a need at third base, as well as adding a bench player who could fill in at several positions on an as-needed basis.
And though we didn’t know who we’d be giving up to get him, the understanding was that it would be a minor leaguer; perhaps one with a little upside, but since the Astros were making the deal with a position of power – since Keppinger was out of options, the Reds would have to expose him to waivers before they sent him down. At least by making this trade, they were going to get something for the loss of Keppinger.
Today, that “something” was announced, in the form of Drew Sutton.
With a farm system ranked #30 out of 30, the Astros don’t have a lot of top-end prospects to build the future of the club around. Tommy Manzella, Sutton, Chris Johnson, Bud Norris, and Brian Bogusevic are pretty much the only prospects currently in the system with immediate major league-ready talent.
Losing Sutton makes a significant dent in that limited talent pool. Though Keppinger has been very hot in his Astros career, his long-term value is not great. Once Johnson is promoted to the Majors, Geoff Blum will be moved to the bench, leaving Jason Smith and Keppinger as the options for utility infielder. Even assuming Kazuo Matsui has to miss extended time, as usual, making Keppinger the starting second baseman; beyond this season, it’s hard to see where he fits in.
Sutton, on the other hand, is the team’s second baseman of the future. One of the major reasons the Astros organizations is in the shape it’s currently in is that we’ve given up too much value for too little a return. Five players for Miguel Tejada, for instance. Willy Taveras, Taylor Buchholz, and Jason Hirsh for Jason Jennings and Miguel Asencio. I’m sure I don’t need to go on.
I appreciate what Jeff Keppinger brings to the table this season, but to give up one of the very few top-end prospects we’ve got in the system is, once again, overpaying.