Houston's offense is a juggernaut, cranking out an MLB-high 5.92 runs per game. That's powered them to an AL-best 62-31 record while papering over a rotation that's a bit thin for playoff purposes. For as brilliant as Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers have been, they’ve combined for just 28 starts while each has served time on the disabled list for the second straight season. Keuchel has twice been sidelined by a pinched nerve in his neck and last pitched in a big league game on June 2. Mike Fiers and Charlie Morton are serviceable at the back of the rotation, but an upgrade is in order.
The 27-year-old Gray has bounced back from an injury-marred 2016 to pitch to a 3.72 ERA/3.46 FIP, and Oakland will reap a windfall by dealing him with three years of arbitration eligibility still ahead of him. The Astros’ deep farm system was ranked number three by Baseball America at the outset of the season, and they recently placed six players on that publication's midseason Top 100 Prospects list. It won't be painless, but Houston has the pieces to get a deal for Gray done, and an intradivision trade is no obstacle; the A’s and Astros have swung four of them since the latter joined the AL West in 2013.