Why the Astros' farm system is in the dumper

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There was a story about the state of the Astros’ farm system in Saturday’s Houston Chronicle, painting a bleak yet accurate picture of what happens when you spend a decade signing free agents, skimping on international signings, drafting poorly and failing to come appreciate when it’s time to add talent and when it’s time to rebuild. Today Buster Olney adds another factor:

Here’s the bottom line: The teams that have adhered closely to the
slotting bonus guidelines set forth by the Commissioner’s Office have
seen the quality of their prospects dwindle, and the teams that have
painted outside the slotting system lines — the Tigers, the Red Sox —
have thrived. The Astros have been one of the teams that followed the
slotting guidelines.

This is not terribly shocking, of course. When you have a system in which some clubs agree to arbitrarily limit the things they’ll do to make their team better and others do not, those in the former camp are bound to suffer.  What’s so surprising to me is that so many teams value loyalty to Bud Selig and ownership politics more than they do, you know, winning.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays in part of three-team deal

Tampa Bay Rays
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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.