Report: Johnny Cueto could be the Astros’ top trade target

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Dallas Keuchel is set to start the All-Star Game for the American League on Tuesday, but the Astros could sure use some help around him. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Astros are aiming high in their efforts for a rotation upgrade:

The Astros have keen trade interest in Reds starter Johnny Cueto, and it appears he may even be their top target, if as expected Cueto hits trade market soon, people familiar with their thinking say.

Cueto, an impending free agent, owns a 2.73 ERA and 113/22 K/BB ratio in 118 2/3 innings over 17 starts this season. The 29-year-old is owed around $5 million the rest of the way. With the Reds looking like obvious sellers, he’s a logical candidate to be moved by the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31.

Heyman notes that there is an uneasy relationship between Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and Reds general manager Walt Jocketty from their time together in St. Louis. However, it’s unlikely that their past would prevent a deal from coming together.

Interestingly, while Cueto is apparently a top priority for the Astros, Heyman writes that Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels doesn’t appear to be on their radar. Previous reports have indicated that Hamels wouldn’t be willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to Houston, but he’s also a different situation than Cueto in that he’s making $22.5 million this year with $73.5 million guaranteed from 2016-2018. Picking up his $20 million option for 2019 could potentially sweeten the pot, but it’s understandable why making a deal for Cueto could be more appealing.

José Ramírez has a broken hamate bone, likely out for the year

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José Ramírez had to leave last night’s game against the Royals in the middle of his first-inning after he injured his wrist on a swing. This morning the Indians determined that he has a fractured right hamate bone. He has been placed in the Injured List and his season is almost certainly over.

Ramírez started the season slowly, but in the past two months he had turned it on to help fuel Cleveland’s surge. He hit .320/.340/.680 with nine homers and 25 driven in in July and was hitting .321/.372/.705 with six homers and 20 driven this month. Basically, he’s been a better version of the Ramírez who won the Silver Slugger Award and came in third in the MVP balloting in 2018.

The Indians have called up Yu Chang to take Ramírez’s spot on the roster. He and Mike Freeman will likely get most of the reps at third base going forward.

Just a tremendous loss for the Indians.