The Houston Astros were looking to add another top-end starting pitcher, and after pulling it off does that mean they’ve just won the 2019 World Series?
The 2019 MLB trade deadline was mostly sleepy, with few big names changing teams. But the Houston Astros shook things up and pulled off a huge move, getting Zack Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks for two pitching prospects (Corbin Martin, J.B. Bukauskas), first base/outfield prospect Seth Beer and infield/outfield prospect Josh Rojas.
The Astros also got starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez and reliever Joe Biagini from the Toronto Blue Jays in a deadline deal. Sanchez has a 6.07 ERA over 23 starts this year, but he has 16 strikeouts with zero walks over his last two starts, is a past ERA champion (AL-leading 3.00 ERA in 2016) and if nothing else he gives the Astros another arm. Biagini has a 3.86 ERA and a 9.0 K/9 over 49 appearances this year.
Houston gave up their No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 prospects (Beer, Bukauskas and Martin, according to MLB.com) in the trade for Greinke, and threw in another organizational top-25 prospect (No. 22, Rojas) for good measure. The move also comes with another big cost, strictly based on the money due to Greinke over the next two-plus seasons.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the financial details, with Arizona sending a chunk of cash to Houston.
With Gerrit Cole in the final year of his contract, Justin Verlander at 36 years old and Greinke himself turning 36 in October, the Astros have made an all-in move when other teams (Yankees, Twins) wouldn’t or couldn’t pull that trigger. Game 1-3 of a playoff series would go Verlander, Cole and Greinke for Houston right now, and at minimum no one else in the American League can come close to matching that trio of aces.
The Astros tore it down and built it up with an analytics-driven model, and it paid off with a World Series win in 2017. This year, with one trade deadline now past and assuming no major injuries, Houston is absolutely the betting favorite to make it two titles in three years.