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Astros acquire Zack Greinke for bounty of prospects

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 31: Zack Greinke #21 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches during the first inning of the game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on July 31, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 31: Zack Greinke #21 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches during the first inning of the game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on July 31, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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The Astros pulled off a stunning trade for Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke.

When it seemed like the Astros let the trade deadline pass without acquiring a big name pitcher, news broke of a blockbuster of a deal. GM Jeff Luhnow picked up Zack Greinke from Arizona to form an imposing Big Three with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, but it comes at a high price.

In return, the Astros sent three of their five best prospects to the Diamondbacks — first baseman Seth Beer and pitchers J.B. Bukauskas and Corbin Martin. Additionally, they sent infielder Joshua Rojas, their No. 22 prospect, along with them. This is a hefty price to pay for anyone.

But it signals the Astros are all in for 2019, attempting to capture another World Series crown before Cole hits free agency after the season. This gives them arguably the game’s most imposing starting rotation to go along with a deep and powerful lineup.

What They Get

CTH recently examined the possibility of the Astros picking up Greinke. He’s a future Hall-of-Famer and is unquestionably an ace caliber pitcher even at age 35. He pitched five innings of two-run ball against the Yankees on Wednesday afternoon, pushing his ERA to 2.90 on the season. He’s a five-time Gold Glove winner, a six-time All-Star and the winner of the 2009 AL Cy Young Award.

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He’s also under contract for two additional seasons for a total of $70 million, plus the remainder of his salary for this season. The Diamondbacks are sending $24 million to the Astros as part of the deal, leaving Houston to pay roughly $53 million.

This provides insurance in the event that Cole leaves as a free agent, as it would still leave the Astros with two aces to lead the rotation next season. Greinke has proven he’s still effective into his mid-30s, so he should be worth the money barring injury.

For now, the Astros have to be considered World Series favorites. They have a trio of aces plus the underrated Wade Miley to toe the rubber in October, giving them a rotation that’s even better than the one they ran with in 2018. Luhnow has effectively silenced all those who criticized him for not being bold.

What They’re Giving Up

Even though Luhnow managed to get this deal done without including top prospects Kyle Tucker or Forrest Whitley, this is still a high price to pay. Martin is recovering from Tommy John surgery and Bukauskas has struggled at Double-A, so losing the two of them is palatable. Rojas has performed well at Triple-A and been compared to Marwin Gonzalez, but he didn’t have a place on the team with Aledmys Diaz in the fold.

The real stinger is losing Beer. The Astros’ first round pick in 2018 has had an excellent year at the plate between Class-A Advanced and Double-A, slashing a combined .309/.410/.564 with 25 homers and 86 RBIs. While he’s more of a DH type, he was viewed as the team’s first baseman of the future with Yuli Gurriel at age 35.

The farm system takes a sizable hit with the loss of these players, but getting a player like Greinke is going to require it. Further, taking on this much salary will essentially prevent the Astros from being able to re-sign Cole this offseason. If they win the World Series with Greinke on the team, the trade will probably be worth it. Flags fly forever.

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But if they should fall short and even one of these prospects becomes a perennial All-Star, it could come back to haunt them. Still, the saying goes that fortune favors the bold, and the Astros have certainly been bold here. Now it’s time to take back that trophy.

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