In case you haven't heard, somebody hacked into the computer system that the Astros use, in part, to log communications with other teams with regard to potential trades. For all the details, head over to Deadspin.
As far as I can tell, the only relevant chatter occurred on July 22, 2013.
The line: "JL told RA that we would consider Aaron Altherr. RA said that seemed like a reasonable ask and he was still evaluating where he was. He would get back to us."
The conversation between JL, presumably Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, and RA, presumably Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., was apparently in regards to Astros righthander Bud Norris. Obviously, the deal never transpired, and Norris ended up going to the Orioles for Josh Hader, L.J. Hoes, and a competitive balance pick.
MLB.com ranked Hader as the Astros’ 14th-best prospect at the start of the season. MLB.com ranked Altherr as the Phillies’ fifth-best prospect, but keep in mind Houston’s minor league system is much deeper than the Phillies.
The trade would have made sense from the Phillies perspective. Norris is a decent young starter with strikeout stuff who would have slotted as the team’s No. 3 or No. 4 starter this season, depending on whether the Phillies still signed A.J. Burnett. Norris has started 14 games for the Orioles this year, with a 3.62 ERA, 6.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and 1.0 HR/9 in 87 innings while making $5.3 million. The move could have enabled the Phillies to give more consideration to non-tendering the more expensive Kyle Kendrick. Norris is under club control through next season, after which he becomes a free agent. Altherr was 22 years old at the time the deal was being discussed. He finished last season hitting .275/.337/.455 with 12 home runs at high-A Clearwater. He plays center field, so you can understand why the Phillies might have been hesitant to move the kid.
Altherr got off to a slow start at Double-A Reading, but in his last 22 games is hitting .337/.400/.558 with three home runs and 22 strikeouts in 86 at bats. He made a pit stop on the big league roster in St. Louis when Tony Gwynn Jr. went on the bereavement list. He made one appearance as a pinch-hitter and flied out.
Altherr is the kind of player the Phillies love. He has an impressive frame, plus plenty of speed and power. And he plays a position that the Phillies desperately need some options at. The question is whether he will be able to make contact consistently enough against high-caliber pitching.
The fact that Amaro considered Altherr a “reasonable” request for a middle-of-the-rotation starter gives you some idea of how the Phillies view Altherr. A prospect, but not a premiere one.