Astros: Longtime players who finished careers elsewhere
With the news that Tom Brady is leaving the Patriots, we’re looking at the longtime Houston Astros greats who finished their careers elsewhere.
The sports world was rocked with the news that New England Patriots great Tom Brady has left the only NFL franchise he’s ever known and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The news got us thinking about some Houston Astros all-time greats who finished their careers in another uniform.
The criteria for the list is simple. These players were in Houston for most of their careers and were of significant importance to the team. They then spent the final part of their careers playing for other teams, looking rather strange in some other uniform. We’ve broken this up among position players and pitchers.
Jose Cruz didn’t actually start his career with the Astros, as he spent his first five seasons with the Cardinals. But he played 13 seasons in Houston and was an important part of those playoff teams in 1980 and 1986. He played his final season with the Yankees in 1988 at age 40.
Lance Berkman is one of the club’s all-time greats and was considered for a spot on the team’s Mount Rushmore. The rebuilding Astros traded him to the Yankees in 2010, and he won a World Series with the Cardinals in 2011 as he put together his last great season. He finished his career with one season with the Rangers in 2013.
Cesar Cedeno spent 12 of his 17 seasons in Houston, quickly blossoming into a true five-tool player in the early 1970s. By the time the Astros traded him to Cincinnati after the 1981 season, his best years were behind him. He played a few seasons for the Reds before finishing his career with short stints with the Cardinals and Dodgers.
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Speaking of the Dodgers, Jimmy Wynn put together his last two good seasons in LA. After hitting 223 homers in 11 seasons with the Colt .45s/Astros, Wynn was traded to the Dodgers following the 1973 season and hit 32 homers with a career-high 108 RBIs in 1974. He also played with the Braves, Yankees and Brewers before retiring, but he will always be one of the Astros greats.
Larry Dierker spent 13 of his 14 seasons with the Colt .45s/Astros and was the team’s first ace. But following the 1976 season, the club traded him to the Cardinals. He pitched only one season in St. Louis at age 30 before calling it quits.
Roy Oswalt won 143 games in 10 seasons with the Astros and also took home the 2005 NLCS MVP award. With the team rebuilding, he was traded to Philadelphia in 2010 and had a good run over a season and a half. But he lost his effectiveness after that, pitching in two disappointing seasons with the Rangers and Rockies.
Shane Reynolds was drafted by the Astros and developed into a quality starter, winning 99 games in an eight-season peak from 1994-2001. The club released him just before the 2003 season, so he finished his career with one year in Atlanta and one appearance with the Diamondbacks in 2004.
Dave Smith was the Astros closer through much of the 1980s and posted a total 2.53 ERA and 199 saves in 11 seasons in Houston. He signed with the Cubs as a free agent prior to 1991 and posted a 4.94 ERA in two seasons in Chicago before hanging up his spikes.