By JOSHUA REESE, SportsRadio 610

HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – With Major League Baseball’s July 31 trade deadline looming closer, what players are the Astros willing to part with? Some would say that the hometown team is no more than a 1970 AMC Gremlin and fit only for parts. With no major engine, i.e. a Justin Verlander or Miguel Cabrera, not much is holding the rest together.  Here are two players that need to be the next on the trading blocks:

Starting Pitcher – Bud Norris (28)
Norris is the highest paid Astro, receiving $3 million for this season, will be a free agent next season. Norris is already rumored to have been dropping hints of returning to his hometown of San Francisco to play for the Giants.  Norris’ success could earn him a lot of suitors on the open market.  In the tougher AL, Norris has 81 strikeouts, 36 walks in 114 innings with a 3.63 ERA.  Norris may not be a top ten pitcher but could add depth to a playoff roster as pitcher who is third or fourth in a stronger rotation.

Closer – Jose Veras (32)
Veras is the third-highest paid on the Astros’ payroll and is slated to make over $3 million next season (buyout worth $150,000).  Veras’ salary may not be worth its value to an Astros roster, making him among the first to be traded.  Saving 17 of 20 games this season, Veras could be worth his price on another team looking for a closer or help in the bullpen.

There are a handful of players that the Astros club may want around in two to five years:  starting pitcher Jordan Lyles, 22, and relief pitcher/future closer Jose Cisnero,24, secondbaseman Jose Altuve, first baseman/left fielder Chris Carter and 2013 All-Star catcher Jason Castro.

If Jeff Luhnow’s master plan works, the Astros could be in a battle with the Texas Rangers for dominance in the American League West. The Astros rebuilding phase will give way to a core group of starters, complemented with the occasional trade or free agent acquisition, and a farm system that will support the club for years to come.


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