Astros willing to consider 'rental' on trade market

Starting pitchers on GM Luhnow's radar before Aug. 1 Trade Deadline

Astros willing to consider 'rental' on trade market

HOUSTON -- With a week remaining before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Monday the club would be willing to trade for a "rental player" who would be a free agent at the end of the season. They Astros did that last year by acquiring pitcher Scott Kazmir, who signed with the Dodgers in the winter.

The Astros are in the market for a starting pitcher, even though they entered the Yankees series Monday with the third-lowest ERA among starting pitchers since May 1 (3.85). The price of the White Sox's Chris Sale is probably too high, leading some teams to turn to the Rays pitching trio of Chris Archer, Matt Moore and Jake Odorizzi. Houston would also like to add a left-handed relief pitcher.

Andrew Cashner, Rich Hill and Jeremy Hellickson are among the starters who will be free agents at the end of the year, but the Astros don't appear to have a specific target at this point.

"I think you have to if you're in a position where you have a chance to win the division and go deep into the playoffs," Luhnow said of adding a rental. "You have to consider players that are going to become free agents. They tend to be maybe a little less expensive than players with control, so you have to consider those guys."

Luhnow said he's not pressured to have to do something, and for good reason. After a disastrous April, the Astros have posted the best record in the Majors since May 1, thanks mainly to their pitching staff getting its act together. The addition of rookie Alex Bregman to the lineup Monday should add some punch to the lineup. Plus, Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel is expected in the next month, so adding a bat isn't a need.

"My general thoughts are we have a good team and there's no reason to do anything foolish at this point," Luhnow said. "We're in constant communication with all the clubs that have made players available or potentially will, and we're going to evaluate each opportunity on a case-by-case basis and if we feel there's something that helps us with this club right now, we're certainly going to consider it seriously. As of right now, there's nothing imminent."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.