The Astros likely got a little worse Tuesday with Jeff Keppinger’s departure, but they also got a little more interesting.
Jose Altuve is listed at 5-foot-7, but according to just about everyone who has seen him in person, he’s likely much closer to 5-foot-5. And now he’s the game’s most compact major leaguer after being called up from Double-A to take over at second base.
Altuve was absolutely tearing it up in the minors this season. He started out at Single-A Lancaster and batted .408/.451/.606 with five homers and 19 steals in what, admittedly, is a fantastic environment for hitters. He hadn’t slowed too much following the move up to Double-A, though. He was hitting .361/.388/.569 in 35 games for his new team. Overall, he was at .389/.426/.591 with 10 homers and 24 steals in 357 at-bats.
The Astros are almost certainly rushing Altuve. He’s just 21, and it’s not at all likely that he’s ready to hit for power in the majors. Still, he’s the most intriguing position player they’ve developed since Hunter Pence, and given that the Astros are in need of a little excitement, it’s not too surprising that they chose to give him a look.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.