Don’t look now, but the Houston Astros have acquired a new closer…
And his name is Ken Giles! The Astros have agreed to send pitchers Vincent Velasquez, Brett Oberholtzer, and outfielder Derek Fisher to the Philadelphia Phillies for Giles. There are conflicting reports on a possible fourth player involved; we will have to wait until the official press release from the teams. The three players listed above appear to be agreed upon.
Giles, 25, comes over to Houston after finishing last season as the Phillies closer. In 69 appearances, the second-year reliever finished with 15 saves and a 1.80 ERA/2.13 FIP in 2015. This season came on the heels of a very good 2014 when he finished the season with 44 appearances and a 1.18 ERA/1.34 FIP. He has also shown a propensity for strikeouts as he has maintained a 12.61 K/9 in 2014 and 11.19 K/9 in 2015.
Adding Giles gives the Astros not only the “closer” the team desires, but also a flamethrower arm for the back end of the bullpen. His four-seam fastball regularly comes out around 96-99 MPH, and he also uses a slider that averages roughly 86-87 MPH. That is the type of arm the Astros have desperately needed at times last season and should complement Gregerson as the one-two punch in the eighth and ninth innings.
He will now be penciled in as the de facto “closer” for Houston in the upcoming 2016 season with incumbent closer Luke Gregerson being transitioned back to the familiar set-up role. And the luxury for the Astros is that Giles should be the closer for the foreseeable future since he isn’t eligible for free agency until 2020. In fact, he isn’t even eligible for arbitration till after the 2017 season.
In return, the Phillies will receive Velasquez, Fisher, and Oberholtzer, who should provide a jolt to the rebuilding franchise. Philadelphia’s front office has been rumored to be interested in starting pitcher depth to allow the team the luxury to slowly bring along its young pitching prospects, and they fulfill that need with Oberholtzer.
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However, the two main pieces that are more likely to pay dividends for the Phillies are Velasquez and Fisher.
Velasquez figures to be a candidate for either the rotation or bullpen in Philly with Fisher probably being assigned to their AA affiliate after spending time the majority of last season in Houston’s A+ affiliate at Lancaster. Each has moderate upside and could possibly be the part of a future core for the Phillies that it desperately needs.
Of course, the trade is still contingent on all of the players passing their physicals. But assuming that is just a formality, this is a trade that benefits both parties. While trading three players for just Giles is a steep price, the trade was for a young “closer” with a high ceiling under club control for multiple years.
Editor’s Note: The fourth player appears to be a pitcher that is NOT Rule V eligible according to the Chronicle’s Evan Drellich. After 12:00 am. Drellich reported that the fourth pitcher is Thomas Eshelman, the pitcher who was drafted in the second round of the 2015 draft. Was expected to make the Astros quickly with experience.
Those type of players don’t become available often. And while losing the trio of players might sting for the Astros, the farm system has enough depth that it should mitigate the risk of this trade. And for a team like Houston, who is aiming to return to the postseason in 2016, this trade could prove to be a difference maker one year from now.
**Statistics provided by Fangraphs.com**