Posted on July 31, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine

Zack Greinke
Image via cbssports.com

The Houston Astros could end up being the biggest winners of this year’s MLB Trade Deadline. Minutes before the 4 p.m. deadline, the Astros pulled off a trade for Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke. That trade came after the Astros finalized a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays for pitchers Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini. They also welcomed back catcher Martin Maldonado in a trade with the Cubs.

Needless to say, adding Greinke is the biggest move any team made on Wednesday. The Diamondbacks have long looked for a trade partner for Greinke and finally found one. Houston will reportedly take on $53 million of the $77 million left on Greinke’s deal that runs through the end of the 2021 season. The Astros are also sending pitching prospects J.B. Bukauskas and Corbin Martin, first base prospect Seth Beer, and infield prospect Josh Rojas to Arizona, a huge haul for the Diamondbacks.

The trade was completed soon after Greinke tossed five innings in a start against the Yankees. The 35-year-old finishes his season with the Diamondbacks with a 10-4 record and an ERA of 2.90 over 23 starts. He’s in the middle of his best season since coming to Arizona, showing no signs of slowing down. He now joins a rotation that includes long-time ace Justin Verlander, as well as Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley. Of the four pitchers, Miley’s 3.06 ERA is the highest of the group, giving the Astros arguably the best rotation in baseball.

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As mentioned, Houston’s acquisitions didn’t stop there. Sanchez is potentially an important addition as well. The 27-year-old has been dreadful this season, going 3-14 with a 6.07 ERA. But he’s just three years removed from being one of the best pitchers in baseball. The Astros could slot him into the 5th spot in their rotation or possibly see if his performance improves as a member of the bullpen.

Meanwhile, Biagini will surely give Houston’s bullpen a boost. He has bounced back from a rough 2018 season and produced an ERA of 3.78 in 50 appearances this year. He will provide another capable setup man in front of closer Roberto Osuna and top setup man Will Harris. Biagini is also under team control through the 2021 season.

Of course, the Astros paid a big price for their acquisitions. Martin, Beer, and Bukauskas were the team’s no. 6, 7, 8 prospects, respectively, according to MLB.com. Parting with those players is a serious hit to their farm system. Houston also traded away Derek Fisher to net Sanchez and Biagini. Fisher was once a top prospect but has struggled to fulfill his promise in the majors.

However, the Astros are significantly better following their moves on Wednesday. With the most wins in the American League and an eight-game lead atop the AL West, the Astros are a safe bet to return to the postseason. But now there’s a strong argument that they are the team to beat. It’s hard to find a team in baseball that could match the pitching power of Verlander, Cole, and Greinke in a playoff series. Houston also has Miley as their fourth starter and a bullpen that has improved depth following the additions of Biagini, Ryan Pressley, and possibly Sanchez this week.

For what it’s worth, Arizona and Toronto will be glad with the return they got from Houston in these trades. But the Astros are the big winners in these deals and perhaps the biggest winners of any team on Deadline Day. The Astros were already one of the favorites to win the 2019 World Series. They have now improved themselves more than any other team at the trade deadline. In other words, the Astros may be the new team to beat in 2019.

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