The Houston Astros have had an interesting few years under the leadership of former General Manager James Click. In this blog post, we’ll be taking a look at the 2022 trade deadline trades that brought Will Smith and Trey Mancini to the Astros. We’ll be analyzing the trades to evaluate the legacy of James Click and the impact these trades had on the team.
The major piece of the trade was Trey Mancini, coming to the Astros from the Orioles. Mancini filled a big need with the injury to Michael Brantley, but in 186 PAs, he hit an OPS of .622, making him a below-replacement player. He was also a major disappointment in the 2022 playoffs, hitting .048. The player the Astros surrendered, Jose Siri, had a much better performance with the Rays, hitting an OPS of .660 and posting a bWAR of 0.7.
The Astros also surrendered 4th-round draftee, pitcher Chayce McDermott, for Jayden Murray. Murray is a 25-year-old who has topped out at AA with a 4.28 ERA last year. McDermott is 23 and, at the A+ minor league level, had a 5.38 ERA. But in 77 IP, he allowed only 60 hits with 124 Ks. It’s doubtful either prospect will become a major factor at the big league level, but the Astros probably surrendered a higher-upside player.
When evaluating Click, it’s important to keep in mind that he picked up Siri for nothing off waivers in 2021 and flipped him for the rental of a proven slugger. Looking at some of Click’s other trades, it’s clear that in every case, the players Click acquired in trades did worse after the trade, and every player given up did better. The pattern is so strong you’re tempted to look for a reason.
The last trade we’ll be looking at is the Jake Odorizzi to Atlanta for Will Smith trade. This trade is the epitome of a lateral trade undertaken to put players in places where they are more useful to their respective teams. The Astros unloaded Odorizzi’s $10 million salary and got a half-season of decent relief work from lefty Will Smith. Smith’s ERA improved with the Astros, and Odorizzi’s performance got worse with the Braves.
Overall, Click looks extraordinarily unlucky as a trader. Let’s take a look at the grade he gets for these trades. The Mancini trade gets a grade of C. The Odorizzi to Atlanta trade gets a grade of B. Both teams got rid of players they didn’t need anymore and had no plans of keeping.
In conclusion, Click’s legacy as a trader is an interesting one. He has had some successes, but overall, his trades have not gone as planned. It will be interesting to see how his free agency moves turn out in the next installment.