Houston Astros – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-08-18T01:41:54Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress TC Zencka <![CDATA[Astros Option Cy Sneed, Recall Rogelio Armenteros, Reinstate Francis Martes]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=171465 2019-08-17T17:07:36Z 2019-08-17T17:07:36Z The Astros optioned Cy Sneed to Triple-A while promoting Rogelio Armenteros, per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).

Armenteros, 25, is up to slated to start today’s game versus the Athletics. It’s been so far so good for Armeneteros this season, with a 1.93 ERA/2.86 FIP in 14 innings thus far, including one start. This will be his third stint with the team in as many months.

Sneed, 26, did a nice job soaking up innings in four appearances. Over 12 2/3 innings, Sneed pitched to a 4.26 ERA/3.93 FIP in his first big league action. The Nevada native has pitched in both relief and starting capacities in Triple-A this year, going 7-6 with a 4.22 ERA overall.

Also noted by Rome, Francis Martes has returned rom the restricted list and added to the minor league injured list. Martes received an 80-game PED suspension in March, but he isn’t expected to pitch until next season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Gerrit Cole, Brad Peacock]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=171443 2019-08-17T06:08:03Z 2019-08-17T06:08:03Z The Astros remain optimistic that right-hander Gerrit Cole will avoid a stint on the injured list, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com writes. Cole, who has been dealing with hamstring discomfort this week, played catch Friday and will do so again this weekend, manager A.J. Hinch said. Hinch added that the Astros are hopeful the AL Cy Young contender will return near the end of their upcoming series against Detroit, which runs from Monday to Thursday. Meanwhile, righty Brad Peacock could come off the IL as early as Sunday. Peacock had been in the Astros’ rotation before going down with shoulder discomfort June 28, but he’ll revert to his previous role as a reliever when he makes it back to the majors.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Free Agent Stock Watch: Wade Miley]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=171264 2019-08-16T00:37:58Z 2019-08-15T23:45:20Z Left-hander Wade Miley was one of the most cost-efficient free-agent signings in each of the previous two offseasons. He was highly successful as a Brewer in 2018 after settling for a minor league contract, and has continued to thrive this year as an Astro on the heels of taking a major league pact worth $4.5MM. Over the past season and a half, Miley ranks 14th among qualified starters in ERA (3.11).

Understandably, plenty of skepticism has accompanied Miley’s ability to prevent runs. Since 2018, only 20 qualified starters have registered a worse FIP than Miley’s 4.42, while he also falls toward the low end of the majors in SIERA (4.68; 19th from the bottom) and xFIP (4.44; 25th). One of the problems has been Miley’s K/BB ratio, which was especially poor last year after he struck out 5.58 hitters per nine and walked 3.01 across 80 2/3 innings as a Brewer. But Miley has improved significantly in that category through 141 2/3 frames as a member of the Astros, with whom he has struck out 7.43 and walked 3.05. While still unspectacular, those numbers are right in line with the former Diamondback, Red Sox and Mariner’s career totals (7.13 K/9, 3.12 BB/9).

Clearly, the 32-year-old Miley has never been anywhere near elite at racking up strikeouts or limiting walks, in part because of a fastball that clocks in at just about 91 mph. But Miley has typically induced a solid number of ground balls while limiting home runs, which has continued this year.

As a member of the Astros, Miley has forced grounders at a 52.4 percent clip and allowed homers on 15.1 percent of fly balls – both of which are well above average. He has also been tough on both lefties, whom he has held to a .255 weighted on-base average, and righties (.295). And good luck hasn’t been the driving force behind Miley’s ability to stymie hitters, as Statcast indicates the .289 wOBA he has given up is actually worse than his .282 expected wOBA. Miley’s xwOBA ranks in the majors’ 81st percentile, while his exit velocity against (70th), expected batting average (75th), hard-hit rate (81st) and expected slugging percentage against (84th) also sit toward the top of the majors.

The success Miley has enjoyed over the past couple years has come with a change in repertoire. When he was a member of the Orioles in 2017, batters had their way with Miley, who pitched to a bloated 5.61 ERA in 157 1/3 innings of work. Miley’s career (or at least his time as a useful major leaguer) looked as if it was nearing an end then, but he has since revived it with a more cutter-heavy approach. He threw the pitch 14.3 percent of the time in 2017, per Statcast, but has used it at a 41-plus percent clip in both seasons since then. Miley has tossed it a personal-high 46.8 percent of the time this year, and hitters have recorded a modest .311 wOBA/.315 xwOBA against it. Miley’s other most common pitches – his changeup (19.6 percent; .198 wOBA/.191 xwOBA) and four-seamer (16.4 percent; .272/.258) – have confounded the opposition even more.

Despite the success Miley has enjoyed going back to 2018, the soft-tossing southpaw still isn’t a particularly exciting option. His earning power will always be somewhat limited as a result, but Miley should at least do better than the contract he raked in last offseason. A multiyear pact might be in the offing this winter for Miley, who will fall behind far more expensive hurlers such as teammate Gerrit Cole, Madison Bumgarner, Cole Hamels, Zack Wheeler, Dallas Keuchel, Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson, perhaps among others, on the open market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Astros Optimistic Gerrit Cole Avoided Serious Injury]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=171148 2019-08-15T18:52:23Z 2019-08-15T03:44:24Z The hamstring injury that prompted the Astros to scratch Gerrit Cole from yesterday’s start isn’t immediately believed to be serious, manager A.J. Hinch told reporters (Twitter link, with video, via Brian McTaggart of MLB.com). That doesn’t necessarily preclude a trip to the injured list, but Hinch explained that Cole “doesn’t think it’s that serious.” He’ll nonetheless be tested further to ensure there’s no risk of a more substantial injury. Scratching Cole had a trickle-down effect on the pitching staff, though, as it forced Houston into a bullpen game in the second half of a Tuesday doubleheader against the White Sox. As such, deadline acquisition Joe Biagini was optioned to Triple-A in order to get a fresh arm, Cy Sneed, into the bullpen. Biagini’s trip to the minors seems likely to be brief and won’t impact his arbitration or free-agent timeline.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Gerrit Cole Scratched With Hamstring Discomfort]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=171042 2019-08-14T19:31:18Z 2019-08-14T03:03:44Z The Astros made right-handed ace Gerrit Cole a late scratch from his start against the White Sox on Tuesday because of right hamstring discomfort, Jake Kaplan of The Athletic was among those to report. The severity of the injury isn’t known, but it’s worth keeping an eye on considering Cole’s importance to the Astros and his status as the game’s best pending free agent. As of now, the 28-year-old workhorse is on pace for his third consecutive 200-inning season. He has given Houston 156 2/3 frames of 2.87 ERA/3.11 FIP ball with 12.98 K/9 and 2.24 BB/9 in 2019.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Astros To Soon Add Francis Martes To 40-Man Roster]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=170880 2019-08-12T04:59:50Z 2019-08-12T04:59:50Z
  • The Astros are close to adding Francis Martes back to their 40-man roster, the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome writes.  The right-hander was issued an 80-game PED suspension back in March, and his stint on the restricted list was extended due to a visa issue that has now been resolved.  Martes still isn’t any closer to pitching, however, since he underwent Tommy John surgery almost exactly one year ago and won’t be ready until Spring Training.  Martes posted a 5.80 ERA over 54 1/3 innings for the Astros in 2017, which marked his only Major League appearance.  Martes was a consensus top-30 prospect prior to the 2017 campaign, though even before his TJ surgery and suspension, his stock had already begun to drop due to shaky Triple-A numbers in 2017 and 2018.
  • ]]>
    George Miller <![CDATA[Astros Notes: Bullpen, Tucker, Guduan]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=170839 2019-08-11T21:49:02Z 2019-08-11T21:49:02Z Though the Astros’ lack of a left-handed reliever may appear to be a troubling dilemma at face value, general manager Jeff Luhnow and company are not treating it as such, and appear poised to move into the postseason with a bullpen consisting entirely of righties, writes Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. Of the four lefties on the 40-man roster, Framber Valdez is the only reliever with significant Major League experience—experience that hasn’t yielded the most promising results. However, the Stros’ righties have done nothing to suggest a southpaw is needed: left-handed hitters have managed a dreadful .263 wOBA versus the Houston bullpen, the lowest mark in the Majors. Luhnow points to Chris Devenski and Will Harris as two veterans who have been instrumental in that success and could be deployed in October as pseudo-lefties. Of course, Roberto Osuna and Ryan Pressly have likewise dominated lefty hitters, but that duo will likely be used as matchup-proof late-inning options.

    Here’s more of the latest news out of Houston…

    • Kyle Tucker has been receiving continued reps as a first baseman with the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate and will receive heavier exposure at the position in the offseason, writes Rome. He and fellow rookie Yordan Alvarez are being groomed into first baseman with an eye on next year’s version of the Astros. Having Tucker and Alvarez available at first could offer added flexibility in the club’s roster construction, as well as providing a clearer path to Major League at-bats for Tucker, who has accumulated more than 900 Triple-A plate appearances in part because of the Astros strong corner outfield rotation. Rome notes that if and when Tucker returns to the Majors as part of expanded rosters, he would only line up at first base in a relatively inconsequential game.
    • Rome provides further details (via Twitter)on the suspension that Astros management handed down to Reymin Guduan last week, clarifying that the suspension only spans the entirely of the minor-league season. As a consequence, Guduan will be eligible to pitch for the Astros in September, though there’s no indication that the 27-year-old will see any more Major League action this season. Guduan, a southpaw, does offer depth in an organization that is thin on lefties, but his performance in limited big league exposure has not been encouraging.
    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Astros Release Akeem Bostick]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=170728 2019-08-10T17:19:37Z 2019-08-10T17:19:37Z The Astros released right-hander Akeem Bostick from their Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock, per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).

    Bostick is a former 2nd round pick of the Texas Rangers from the 2013 draft. He came to the Astros in a 2015 offseason trade for catcher Carlos Corporan. Corporan hit only .176/.244/.299 in his lone season with the Rangers, who released him following the 2015 campaign.

    Yet to make his major league debut, Bostick spent all of this season to date with Round Rock in the PCL. Of course, the PCL has seen a record number of home runs this season, so Bostick is hardly the only pitcher suffering from a few too many long balls.

    Across 80 1/3 innings, Bostick went 4-5 with a 7.28 ERA while giving up 11 hits and 2.1 home runs per nine innings. He also saw a rise in his walk rate this season. The 24-year-old has mostly been a starter throughout his minor league career.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Brad Peacock Could Return As Reliever]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=170415 2019-08-08T03:16:27Z 2019-08-08T03:16:27Z Injured Astros right-hander Brad Peacock has spent almost the whole season as a starter, but he may shift back to his old bullpen role when he returns. The Astros are “gearing” Peacock’s rehab that way, Jake Kaplan of The Athletic tweets.

    The 31-year-old Peacock was among the Astros’ most useful starters before he landed on the shelf June 28 with shoulder discomfort. In 15 appearances and 80 2/3 innings as a starter this season, Peacock has posted a 4.24 ERA/4.32 FIP with 9.15 K/9 against 2.57 BB/9. The plan was for Peacock to return to Houston’s rotation sometime in July, but he suffered a setback midway through the month. As of two-plus weeks ago, the Astros’ hope was Peacock would come back around the midpoint of August.

    Thanks in part to Peacock’s lack of availability, the Astros made other rotation arrangements at last week’s trade deadline. They pulled in two big-name starters – the ace-caliber Zack Greinke from the Diamondbacks and what they hope is a revived Aaron Sanchez from the Blue Jays. With those two and Wade Miley behind the all-world tandem of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, the Astros no longer need any help in their starting staff.

    Fortunately for talent-packed Houston, Peacock is just a year removed from a valuable campaign out of its bullpen. He totaled 63 1/3 frames in 60 appearances as a reliever in 2018 and notched a 3.55 ERA/3.54 FIP with 13.36 K/9 and 2.84 BB/9. Peacock did have a tough time with opposite-handed hitters, which has typically been the case, but he has been lights-out against righties.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Report: Tigers Were Offered Baez, Bregman In 2017 Offers For Michael Fulmer]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=170004 2019-08-05T19:33:17Z 2019-08-05T03:46:02Z Between a down year in 2018 and then Tommy John surgery in March 2019, Michael Fulmer has fallen off the radar for many fans outside of the Motor City.  Yet it wasn’t long ago that Fulmer was one the most sought-after trade chips in baseball, hotly pursued by multiple teams in the aftermath of a Rookie Of The Year season in 2016, and a strong sophomore year that saw him post a 3.83 ERA, 2.85 K/BB rate, and 6.2 K/9 over 164 2/3 innings in 2017, though Fulmer’s year was cut short by elbow surgery.

    It was during that 2017 season that the Tigers finally went into full rebuild mode, trading Justin Verlander, Justin Upton, J.D. Martinez, and others before the trading period finally halted at the end of August.  Fulmer received plenty of attention from trade suitors, though he wasn’t as obvious of a moveable asset given that he still had so many years of team control remaining.

    Nonetheless, the Tigers received some sizeable offers for his services, and according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, these offers included two blockbusters for future All-Stars.  The Tigers reportedly declined a three-player package from the Cubs that would have seen Javier Baez head to Detroit in exchange for Fulmer, while the Astros were willing to give up Alex Bregman for both Fulmer and left-hander Justin Wilson.

    It makes for an eye-popping case of hindsight for the Tigers and their fans, considering how the three principal figures of those offers have since performed.  Baez and Bregman are simply two of the game’s best players, each collecting All-Star appearances in both 2018 and 2019, while Baez finished second in NL MVP voting last season while Bregman racked up a fifth-place finish in the 2018 AL MVP race and also played a big role in the Astros’ 2017 World Series title.

    Fulmer, by contrast, hasn’t matched his early potential due to injuries and perhaps simply some statistical regression.  Whether he can regain his former front-of-the-rotation status is a question that can’t be answered until at least a few months into the 2020 season (or perhaps until 2021, if Fulmer is one of many pitchers who under-performs in their first several starts back from TJ surgery).

    There were some rumors about a Cubs/Tigers trade involving Fulmer back in 2017, prior to Chicago’s acquisition of Jose Quintana from the White Sox, though Detroit reportedly wanted both Baez and Ian Happ as part of a Fulmer trade package.  Bregman and Fulmer were never linked in any trade talks, and one wonders if the Astros only floated the idea fairly early in the year, since Bregman was installed as the team’s everyday third baseman from Opening Day onward.  Needless to say, Bregman was no longer on the table by the time Houston and Detroit collaborated on their actual 2017 blockbuster, the championship-deciding deal that sent Verlander to the Astros on August 31.

    In fairness to the Tigers, every front office has countless examples of instances where they missed out on a trade or a signing that would have been a steal.  Likewise, from the Cubs’ and Astros’ perspective, every team can cite numerous cases where they lucked out in not making a transaction.  But the Fulmer situation looms large, Fenech notes, given how Detroit has been unable to maximize the return on several of their top trade assets during their rebuild.

    Several scouts from around the league weren’t very impressed by the four total prospects Detroit received from the Cubs and Braves in trade deadline swaps of Nicolas Castellanos and Shane Greene.  The Tigers also weren’t able to trade Matt Boyd, perhaps their most valuable trade chip, at all.  While “multiple executives indicated Boyd’s trade value will never be as high as it was at 3:59 p.m. on Wednesday” prior to the trade deadline, it seems that Detroit’s asking price on Boyd was simply too exorbitant.  One National League exec told Fenech that the Tigers’ demands were “borderline comical,” and an AL executive describing Detroit’s front office as “impossible to deal with.”

    The Tigers also asked for a lot in their attempts to trade Greene.  For instance, Detroit asked the Nationals for top infield prospect Carter Kieboom, and Fenech also reports that the Nationals turned down an offer for Luis Garcia, another prized young infielder.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Astros Suspend Reymin Guduan]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=169970 2019-08-04T23:06:30Z 2019-08-04T23:06:30Z The Astros have suspended left-hander Reymin Guduan for what GM Jeff Luhnow described as a “disciplinary issue” at Triple-A, the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome writes.  Guduan will be suspended for the rest of the season.  Specifics aren’t known about what caused the punishment, as Luhnow only said that Guduan “broke our team rules and is being disciplined because of it.”

    Guduan has appeared in 32 games for the Astros over the last three seasons, with just 24 2/3 innings amassed over that limited big league action.  The hard-throwing southpaw has an 8.03 ERA as a Major Leaguer, including an 11.81 mark in only 5 1/3 frames this season.  Even in the minors, Guduan hasn’t exhibited much consistency — a 4.64 ERA over 382 career innings in Houston’s farm system, with an 11.1 K/9 that has been undermined by a 6.2 BB/9.  Between this lack of a track record and now a lengthy suspension, it’s fair to wonder if this could mark the end of Guduan’s time with the Astros organization.

    Though Guduan wasn’t likely to be much of a factor for the Astros down the stretch this season, though his absence does remove some depth in an area that was already something of a thin area for the team.  As Rome notes, Wade Miley, Framber Valdez, and Cionel Perez are the only left-handers on Houston’s entire 40-man roster.  Of that trio, Miley is a starter, Valdez and Perez are in the minors, and Perez is additionally on the injured list.  While the Astros haven’t much sweated their lack of left-handed relievers over the last couple of years, the lack of an August waiver trade period this season would make it all the more difficult for the team to acquire another pitcher if it felt another lefty arm was needed.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[How The Astros Landed Zack Greinke]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=169576 2019-08-02T01:57:43Z 2019-08-02T01:18:14Z Just when it seemed like the 2019 trade deadline has passed without any truly major transactions, a blockbuster deal between the Astros and Diamondbacks shook things up when details emerged of the swap shortly after 3pm CT yesterday.  The Astros landed one of baseball’s top arms in Zack Greinke (and also $24MM of the roughly $77MM owed to Greinke through 2021), while trading away four interesting prospects in right-handers Corbin Martin and J.B. Bukauskas, first baseman Seth Beer and infielder Joshua Rojas.

    The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan (subscription required), ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan, and the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome all provided some of the details that led up to the trade, including the fact that Astros GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t get in touch with the D’Backs about Greinke until the day before the deadline.  Arizona GM Mike Hazen and his front office wanted four prospects for Greinke and didn’t move from those demands, despite some counters from the Astros.  Talks didn’t pick up again until around 35 minutes before the deadline.

    At the end of the day, that was the deal they insisted on, and that was the only deal that was going to get done, and we conceded at the last moment,” Luhnow said in a conference call with Rome and other media members.

    It could be that the Astros were willing to bend on the Diamondbacks’ ask since Arizona may have been one of the few teams that didn’t try to pry away Kyle Tucker or Forrest Whitley, Houston’s top two prospects.  Luhnow told rival clubs that Tucker and Whitley were “off limits” — the Tigers and Mets are two of the teams known to have asked about Tucker, in discussions around Matt Boyd and Noah Syndergaard.

    Also, as Passan writes, “it dawned on the Astros: No one else was doing anything” on deadline day.  The biggest moves for starting pitching were driven by teams that weren’t really contenders in 2019, namely the Reds’ acquisition of Trevor Bauer and the Mets’ acquisition of Marcus Stroman.  With teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers having quiet deadlines and other top teams like the Nationals, Twins, and Braves focusing on bullpen moves, Houston felt a Greinke trade would make an even bigger splash than usual due to the relative lack of activity from other World Series challengers.

    Speaking of the Mets’ Stroman deal, that surprise trade served as something of a catalyst for the Greinke trade, Passan notes.  The Astros had interest in Stroman themselves, and once the right-hander went elsewhere, it broadened Houston’s search into other potentially available arms, including Greinke.

    From the Diamondbacks’ perspective, a Greinke deal wasn’t a priority for Hazen, despite constant speculation over the last several years that Greinke’s large contract was simply too much of a burden on the Snakes’ payroll.  When the Astros were agreeable to Arizona’s asking price, however, Hazen got the go-ahead from D’Backs owner Ken Kendrick and team president/CEO Derrick Hall.

    This was how the deal came together,” Hazen said.  “I think we anticipated, as we’ve gone through the last few weeks, if we were going to get any sizable amount of talent in return that there was going to have to be some compromise financially. That talent return was extremely important to us. We would never have considered trading Zack Greinke without talent (coming back). That would have been a nonstarter.”

    With the Greinke trade coming down to the final few minutes before the deadline, the D’Backs were simultaneously in a scramble to replace him in the rotation with another veteran arm in Mike Leake.  Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto told reporters (including MLB.com’s Greg Johns) yesterday that the Leake trade was finalized with only 68 seconds remaining before the 3pm deadline.

    Human beings are notoriously bad when deadlines are imposed….For some reason, we don’t ever get to work until there are 20 minutes to go. This was a big one to be tackling with 20 minutes to go,” Hazen joked about the two trades.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Astros Acquire Zack Greinke]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=169300 2019-07-31T22:22:04Z 2019-07-31T21:55:57Z In a last-minute trade deadline stunner, the Astros announced that they’ve acquired right-hander Zack Greinke from the Diamondbacks in exchange for right-handers Corbin Martin and J.B. Bukauskas, first baseman Seth Beer and infielder Joshua Rojas. Martin (who is recovering from Tommy John surgery), Bukauskas and Beer are arguably Houston’s three best non-Kyle Tucker and non-Forrest Whitley prospects.

    Zack Greinke | Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    The buzzer-beating trade transforms an already-imposing Astros one-two rotation punch to a genuine postseason powerhouse. The 2019 Greinke trade harkens back to 2017’s acquisition of Justin Verlander for the Astros, and Greinke will now join Verlander and Gerrit Cole as the most formidable 1-2-3 combination in the American League (if not all of baseball).

    Greinke is earning $31.5MM in 2019 and is still owed another $10.5MM of that salary between now and season’s end. He’s also under contract in both 2020 and 2021, with a $32MM salary owed to him in each season. Beyond that, he still has multiple payouts on his prorated signing bonus coming his way — $3MM in 2020 and 2021 — and receives a $2MM signing bonus by virtue of being traded. A third of his salary in 2019-21 is deferred and will be paid out in annual payment of $12.5MM from 2022-26, thus reducing at least some of the immediate financial implications for Houston. The Astros are reportedly “only” on the hook for about $53MM of the money that is still owed to Greinke.

    Greinke’s six-year, $206.5MM contract with the Diamondbacks, signed in the 2015-16 offseason, set a then-record for the largest average annual salary ever promised to a player. And while the first season of that deal looked to be an ominous step backward from the former Cy Young winner’s Hall of Fame trajectory, he’s righted the ship and then some in the ensuing two and a half seasons.

    Dating back to 2017, Greinke has racked up 551 innings of 3.12 ERA ball with 8.9 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, 1.1 HR/9 and a ground-ball rate near 45 percent. He’s been particularly effective in 2019 despite the league-wide home run boom, spinning 141 frames of 2.87 ERA ball with a 0.89 HR/9 average that is actually his lowest since 2015. Greinke was shelled for seven runs in his first start of the season, but over his past 21 outings he has a 2.49 ERA and a 2.77 FIP, underscoring that even with his 36th birthday looming in October, he’s still a bona fide top-of-the-rotation pitcher.

    The acquisition of Greinke is all the more vital for the Astros when glancing at their future outlook. Cole is slated to become a free agent at season’s end, as are left-hander Wade Miley and right-hander Collin McHugh. That’s three rotation options all departing, and with Martin undergoing Tommy John surgery and Whitley struggling, the most big-league-ready of Houston’s farmhands suddenly looked less certain to be 2020 contributors. (Whitley certainly still could be, of course.) The organization hopes to have Lance McCullers Jr. back from Tommy John surgery next season, but an immediate return to form is far from a sure thing.

    Now, with Greinke and fellow controllable acquisition Aaron Sanchez joining the team, the Astros have a pair of new arms to team with Verlander and whichever internal options are up to the task. (Sanchez, alternatively, could also work out of the bullpen.) Landing Greinke lessens the organization’s urgency to pay top dollar for Cole on the open market as well; Cole himself seems likely to pursue a $200MM+ contract in free agency and seems a good bet to secure $150MM+ even if he doesn’t quite reach that level of rarefied air.

    Turning to the Diamondbacks, who entered deadline day with a .500 record and an insurmountable division deficit, the move is the next step toward ushering in a new era of baseball. The D-backs traded face of the franchise Paul Goldschmidt this offseason, landing promising young players Carson Kelly and Luke Weaver as the key pieces in that deal. Now, third-year GM Mike Hazen and his staff have shipped out the team’s ace and cleared a substantial amount of payroll, acquiring a pair of pitchers who entered the season regarded as top 100 prospects in all of baseball: Martin and Bukauskas.

    Martin won’t be a factor until late 2020 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but he’s viewed as a potential midrotation arm with an above-average fastball and an above-average, potentially plus slider. He averaged 95.3 mph on his heater in his brief MLB time this season and posted a 3.13 ERA with nearly 11 punchouts per nine innings pitched in 37 1/3 Triple-A frames before undergoing surgery.

    Corbin Martin | Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

    Because his injury and the subsequent operation came about when he was pitching in Triple-A, Martin is on the minor league injured list and not accruing MLB service time. That’s key for Arizona because it means they quite likely won’t need to have him on the MLB roster or injured list until late 2020, which would theoretically make him controllable through the 2026 season. If the D-backs decide they need a roster spot and promote him to the MLB 60-day IL, that timeline would be subject to change.

    Bukauskas, 22,was the 15th overall pick in the 2017 draft and has spent the 2019 season in Double-A. While his 5.25 ERA isn’t particularly impressive, he’s averaged 10.3 K/9 with a solid 47.1 percent ground-ball rate against older, more advanced competition at that level. Over at Fangraphs, Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen gave Bukauskas the potential for three 60-or-better offerings (on the 20-80 scale) but indicated in their preseason report that durability concerns — he has some back issues stemming from a previous car accident — and command could limit his workload and realization of his considerable ceiling.

    Beer, beyond the superlative fun that can be had with his name, is the other big get for the Diamondbacks. Houston’s pick at No. 28 overall in 2018, Beer receives 65 to 70 grades on his raw power in scouting reports and makes more contact than one might expect from a prototypical slugger. He’s ripped through Double-A pitching in 2019, hitting at a .299/.407/.543 clip with 16 home runs and nine doubles. He’s also walked at an 8.6 percent clip against a 20.7 percent strikeout rate. Beer has bottom-of-the-scale speed but could be a bat-first option for Arizona at first base (or at designated hitter if it’s ever implemented in the National League — a possibility that continues to be a point of discussion).

    Rojas is 25 years old and isn’t regarded as a top prospect, but he’s played all four infield slots and both outfield corners while tearing the cover off the ball in Double-A and Triple-A this season. He’s a potential near-term option for the D-backs who hit .322/.405/.561 in 195 Double-A plate appearances before graduating to Triple-A and raking at a comparable .310/.402/.586 clip. Rojas has a combined 20 home runs and 32 stolen bases this season. He may never have graced top prospect rankings in the past, but at a certain point that level of performance in the upper minors is difficult to overlook. At the very least, he’s an interesting fourth piece who could emerge as a utility option for the Snakes in the not-too-distant future.

    Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported (via Twitter) that Greinke was going to Houston. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, ESPN’s Jeff Passan and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported various elements of the return (all Twitter links). Rosenthal and MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert added financial details (Twitter links).

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Astros To Acquire Aaron Sanchez, Joe Biagini]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=169274 2019-07-31T21:12:22Z 2019-07-31T20:11:47Z The Astros acquired right-handers Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini for outfielder Derek Fisher, according to reports from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun, Joel Sherman of the New York Post, and Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.  The deal was a precursor to a trade deadline buzzer beater, as the Astros picked up Zack Greinke from the Diamondbacks as well.

    Sanchez, 27, was drafted 34th overall by the Blue Jays in 2010 and was ranked among the best 35 prospects in baseball prior to his 2014 debut.  The Jays had Sanchez work out of the bullpen as a rookie, and he joined the rotation the following season.  He suffered a lat strain that season and returned as a reliever.  Sanchez  was again moved back to the rotation for the 2016 season, and he authored his finest campaign: a 3.00 ERA in 30 starts, good for a seventh place Cy Young finish.  He would never reach those heights again, dealing with a blisters and finger injuries in the ensuing years. His ERA sits at 6.07 in 23 starts this year.

    Biagini, 29, was Toronto’s Rule 5 Draft selection in 2015 and enjoyed a tremendous rookie campaign in 2016, pitching to a 3.06 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.40 HR/9 and a 52.2 percent ground-ball rate in 67 2/3 innings. However, the Blue Jays’ subsequent attempt to move Biagini into the rotation in 2017 proved an ill-fated mistake, and his 2018 season spent mostly back in the bullpen didn’t yield quality results, either (6.00 ERA in 72 innings).

    The 2019 season has seen Biagini bounce back to the tune of a 3.75 ERA over the life of 48 innings. He’s been homer-prone — like most of the league — but is sporting a career-high 9.0 K/9 against an even 3.0 BB/9 with a 45.3 percent ground-ball rate. There’s reason to be optimistic about further improvement, too; Biagini’s 13.7 percent swinging-strike rate is easily a career-best, as is his 36.1 percent opponents’ chase rate on pitches outside the strike zone. The spin rate on his breaking ball is elite as well, ranking 21st of 399 big league pitchers to throw the pitch at least 100 times dating back to 2016. That type of profile has yielded substantial benefits for the Astros in the past, of course, and they’ll look to elevate his profile with their data-heavy approach moving forward.

    Once a top 100 prospect, Fisher hasn’t established himself in the majors since debuting in 2017. He likely wouldn’t have gotten a chance to do so in Houston, either, with the team loaded in the outfield now and with high-end prospect Kyle Tucker ahead of him in the organizational pecking order. Fisher has hit just .201/.282/.367 with 10 home runs in 312 MLB plate appearances, but he has been quite productive in Triple-A ball. The 25-year-old has slashed .289/.379/.520 with 50 HRs in 1,053 PA at the minors’ highest level.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    George Miller <![CDATA[Angels Acquire Max Stassi]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=169276 2019-07-31T22:51:00Z 2019-07-31T19:59:25Z The Angels have agreed to a swap with the Astros to acquire backstop Max Stassi, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). Stassi, 28, was pushed out of the picture in Houston when the club acquired backstop Martin Maldonado.

    Outfielders Rainier Rivas and Raider Uceta are going to Houston in return, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter).

    With Maldonado rejoining the fray in Houston, the 28-year-old Stassi was evidently made expendable. He’d already been struggling to justify his spot on the active roster, with an abysmal .446 OPS in 98 plate appearances for this year’s Astros. That said, Stassi has made his living not as a formidable offensive player, but for his value behind the plate. Per Statcast, he’s posted top-of-the-line framing numbers behind the plate, one of the most sought-after skills in a catcher. DRS credits him as saving 9 runs last season and 2 runs this year. For his career, he’s caught 24% of would-be base-stealers—not a great mark, but passable considering his framing skills.

    In Anaheim, he’ll replace Dustin Garneau, who was designated for assignment earlier Wednesday. The Angels’ everyday catcher, Jonathan Lucroy, is slated to make his return from the injured list. Kevan Smith, who has enjoyed a solid offensive season by backup catcher standards, is also on the active roster, though he lags behind Stassi as a defensive catcher. Both Smith and Stassi are out of options, so it appears that the Halos will move forward with three catchers on the 25-man roster, at least for the time being.

    In Rivas and Uceta, the Astros will in turn receive two teenage outfielders from the depths of the Los Angeles minor-league ranks. MLB Pipeline doesn’t view either as one of the Halos’ top 30 prospects, though at just 18 years old, these are far from finished products. Both Rivas and Uceta are playing in the Arizona League with the Angels’ rookie-ball affiliate. Uceta has posted a .278/.341/.373 batting line in 138 plate appearances at the level, while Rivas has batted .400/.512/.543 in 86 PA.