Earlier tonight, several sources reported that Wandy Rodriguez was close to becoming a Pittsburgh Pirate. Moments ago, it became official. The Astros traded the last remaining player from their 2005 World Series team to the Pirates. Rodriguez is 7-9 with a 3.79 ERA in 21 starts this year for the Astros. Ironically enough, his next start should come at Minute Maid Park this weekend vs. the Astros.
The Astros will receive OF, Robbie Grossman, LHP Colton Cain and LHP Rudy Owens in return for Wandy Rodriguez. The Astros will also kick in some money in this deal as Wandy still had a few years left on his deal. Grossman, Cain and Owens were ranked as the Pirates 7th, 12th and 16th best prospects respectively as per MLB.com.
Robbie Grossman is the highest ranking prospect received in the deal and the most significant as it stands right now. A sixth round pick in the 2008 draft and a switch hitting center fielder, Grossman enjoyed a nice breakout season in 2011 as he had 104 walks and 127 runs scored in a single season. S0 far this year, he is hitting .262 with 7 home runs and 35RBI for the Pirates AA affiliate. I assume he will report to AA Corpus Christi for the Astros.
Rudy Owens is the player in the package deal the Astros received, that is the closest to the majors. A 28th round pick in the 2006 draft, Owens has thus far compiled an 8-5 record with a 3.14 ERA and 85 strikeouts for the Pirates AAA affiliate. He is a finesse type pitcher and not really a guy who will overpower you. Doesn’t really matter though as he has gotten the job done throughout his minor league career. He will likely head to AAA but I wouldn’t be surprised if he made the jump straight to Houston.
Finally we have Colton Cain (no relation to Matt). Drafted out of high school by the Pirates in the 8th round in 2009, Cain is a tall lefty with a nice fastball that hits the mid 90’s regularly. He really started using his curveball and changeup a lot last season and seems to have added them comfortably to his arsenal. Thus far at Pittsburgh’s High A affiliate, he has a 3-5 record with a 4.20 ERA with 51 strikeouts. I imagine he will likely report to High A Lancaster for the Astros.
All in all, this is a solid move by Jeff Luhnow. These three prospects will all be in our top 20 next season and it adds even more depth to a greatly improved farm. I really thought Wandy was likely going to be traded to St. Louis or Toronto, but Pittsburgh is the team that ends up with him. For all the headaches and frustrations I had watching Wandy pitch over the years, I will miss him. I’ll never forget him coming in to pitch Game 1 of the 2005 World Series when future Hall of Famer, Roger Clemens, left with an injury. Good luck in Pittsburgh, Wandy! I’ll be rooting for you! As for the three players we received in the deal, welcome to Astros Nation, fellas!