Astros' internal dealings go public in a big way, FBI is investigating

The Houston Astros haven't enjoyed success in a while. And on Monday, they were faced with the fact that 10 months of their internal discussions had suddenly become public.

Documents indicate the Astros were interested in Giancarlo Stanton, but that the Marlins wanted George Springer in return.

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Every armchair GM thinks he’s got what it takes to design and pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal, but the fact of the matter is that the job of building a baseball team goes far beyond the scope of anything Joe Schmoe on his couch could handle.

For further proof of that, one must look no further than the trade talks included in 10 months’ worth of Houston Astros internal documents leaked on Monday.

The documents, pillaged from the team’s private “Ground Control” online communication system and posted to anonymous dumping ground Anonbin, purport to show the lengths the club went to in its efforts to trade pitcher Bud Norris, as well as the many deals it turned down — including one that would have landed the team Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton.

The Stanton discussion appears to have come about in November, with one post stating Houston GM Jeff Luhnow and Miami GM Dan Jennings were in talks regarding a deal that would send Stanton to the Astros for uber prospects George Springer and Carlos Correa. But that was allegedly too much for the Astros to give up.

For his part, the Marlins' general manager appears to dispute this, according to USA Today Sports MLB columnist Bob Nightengale:

And the Astros have since released the following statement:

"Last month, we were made aware that proprietary information held on Astros' servers and in Astros' applications had been illegally obtained. Upon learning of the security breach, we immediately notified MLB security who, in turn, notified the FBI. Since that time, we have been working closely with MLB security and the FBI to the determine the party, or parties, responsible. This information was illegally obtained and published, and we intend to prosecute those involved to the fullest extent.

"It is unfortunate and extremely disappointing that an outside source has illegally obtained confidential information. While it does appear that some of the content released was based on trade conversations, a portion of the material was embellished or completely fabricated." 

Over the course of the offseason, the documents indicate the Astros also spoke to several other teams, including the Indians, Angels, Rockies, White Sox, Royals and Blue Jays, among others, about various trade possibilities — some the result of the Astros, themselves, putting out feelers on a player, and others coming from others looking to make a move.

In one of those discussions, the Yankees reportedly reached out to Houston about what they might be willing to part with for Ichiro, going as far as to offer to eat $4.5 million of the veteran outfielder’s $6.5 million salary.

Perhaps the most interesting pieces of information, however, were tied to Norris, who was eventually traded to the Orioles at last year’s trade deadline in exchange for outfielder L.J. Hoes, left-handed pitching prospect Josh Hader and a draft pick.

At one point, the documents indicate, Pirates GM Neal Huntington offered the Astros teenage pitching prospect Luis Heredia and a pick for Norris after turning down trade offers that would have included outfielder Gregory Polanco. Norris also garnered interest from the Giants, but Luhnow reportedly told San Francisco that any deal for Norris would have to include pitcher Clayton Blackburn and left hander Adalberto Mejia, a demand the Giants wouldn’t agree to.

In the AL, the documents say Houston also engaged in discussions with the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Tigers, turning down an offer of Ryan Lavarnway or Deven Marrero from Boston, among others.

All told, the leaked discussions didn’t reveal anything that was especially damaging to the Astros, who were known to be shopping Norris at the deadline. And though some of the offers that the documents say the team pitched may seem a little rich — like trading Norris for Xander Bogaerts or expecting a top-tier prospect like Michael Wacha from the Cardinals — it’s all just part of the game, and it was clear from some of the absurd offers Houston reportedly received that everyone else was playing it, too.

If nothing else, the leak will give fans a new appreciation for just how much effort goes into trading a run-of-the-mill starter like Bud Norris, and probably makes them feel a lot better about not being able to come to an agreement on a workable trade in their fantasy leagues.

That said, even Joe Schmoe might have pulled the trigger on the Stanton deal.

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