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Which players -- pitchers -- the Astros could target at the trade deadline

From left to right: Tony Watson, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Zach Wheeler, Will Smith
From left to right: Tony Watson, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Zach Wheeler, Will Smith (Getty Images)

HOUSTON – The Astros just completed an outstanding homestand going 5-1 against division foes Texas and Oakland.

They will welcome the return of shortstop Carlos Correa to the lineup on Friday when they play at St. Louis. Correa has missed the last 49 games with a fractured rib.

Houston sits comfortably in first place in the American League West division with a 7 1/2-game lead over Oakland.

But with eyes on the bigger prize, the Astros have been pretty clear about making a move at the trade deadline, which is Wednesday. The focus is clearly on adding pitching, possibly both in the rotation and the bullpen.

"We're active, very active. The reality is that this market would be concentrated to the last few days and that's what we're looking at right now," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said on Wednesday. "Once that first domino falls, I think the rest of them will move pretty quickly, but right now everybody is kind of in a waiting game because there are enough days left to negotiate and try to get the best deal. You can rest assured that we're active in that."

Luhnow also said the team's primary concern is getting a guy who can help them win a World Series this season and they've got an entire offseason to worry about what the pitching staff will look like next season.

Astros' top 5 trade targets:

Zach Wheeler
Zach Wheeler
  • Zach Wheeler
  • Mets right-handed starting pitcher
  • Age: 29
  • MLB seasons: Five
  • Pro: He has posted a career-high 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings and a career-best 2.8 walks per nine innings this season.
  • Con: He is on the 10-day injured list with a shoulder injury but is expected to start for the Mets on Friday. He missed the 2015 and 2016 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
  • Contract status: He's a free agent in 2020 and is making $5.975 million this season.
Tony Watson
Tony Watson
  • Tony Watson
  • Giants left-handed reliever
  • Age: 34
  • MLB seasons: Nine
  • Pro: He's very consistent and has only walked five batters in 41 innings pitched this season. He has 16 games of postseason experience with a 2.25 ERA.
  • Con: The Giants have climbed back into the National League wild card race and may not be available via trade.
  • Contract status: He has a $2.5 million player option for 2020.
Noah Syndergaard delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on July 13, 2019, in Miami, Florida.
Noah Syndergaard delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on July 13, 2019, in Miami, Florida.
  • Noah Syndergaard
  • Mets right-handed starting pitcher
  • Age: 26
  • MLB seasons: Five
  • Pro: He has five games of postseason experience with a 2.42 ERA over 26 innings. His career WHIP is 1.15.
  • Con: This season's 4.47 ERA and .729 OPS allowed are career worsts and his 8.71 strikeouts per nine innings are also a career low.
  • Contract status: He is arbitration-eligible next season and can become a free agent in 2021. He makes $6 million this season.
Will Smith
Will Smith
  • Will Smith
  • Giants left-handed reliever
  • Age: 30
  • MLB seasons: Seven
  • Pro: He's posted a career-best 2.44 ERA and 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings this season. He was a 2019 All-Star, which is his first season as a full-time closer.
  • Con: His trade value is very high and he is likely the best available closer.
  • Contract status: He becomes a free agent in 2020 and is making $4.225 million this season.
Marcus Stroman
Marcus Stroman
  • Marcus Stroman
  • Blue Jays right-handed starting pitcher
  • Age: 28
  • MLB seasons: Six
  • Pro: He has a career-best 2.96 ERA this season, which is good for fourth in the American League. His last three starts he racked up 20 IP, a 1.80 ERA, 18 K and 3 BB.
  • Con: He had a shoulder injury in 2018 and missed two starts with a chest injury in June.
  • Contract status: He is arbitration-eligible in 2020 and could become a free agent in 2021. He makes $7.4 million this season.