Astros: Looking back at the 2019 trade with Blue Jays

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 31: Derek Fisher #21 of the Houston Astros stands in the dugout prior to the game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 31, 2019 in Oakland, California. The Astros defeated the Athletics 3-2. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 31: Derek Fisher #21 of the Houston Astros stands in the dugout prior to the game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 31, 2019 in Oakland, California. The Astros defeated the Athletics 3-2. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /
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On Monday, former Houston Astros outfielder Derek Fisher was traded from the Toronto Blue Jays to the Milwaukee Brewers for cash considerations and a player to be named later. This move doesn’t affect the Astros, but it does cap off the 2019 trade between Houston and Toronto, as none of the players included in the trade are on either team anymore.

On July 31, 2019, Houston shipped Fisher away to the Blue Jays in exchange for RHP Joe Biagini, RHP Aaron Sanchez and outfielder Cal Stevenson (minor leaguer). While these players are no longer on the team they were traded to, this trade in the end looks like a possible flop for both sides. It has been only a year and a half later, and the Blue Jays and the Astros have flipped their respected players for one player each.

The Astros and the Blue Jays trade ended up not benefiting either side, where are those players now?

Derek Fisher

The Astros drafted Derek Fisher with the 37th pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, after being drafted by the Texas Rangers three years before in 2011. There was a lot of hype behind the speedy outfielder that contributed to a 2017 World Series ring, but his underdevelopment and the need of arm depth led Houston to trading him in 2019 for three players. The left-hander hit .201/.282/.367, while with the Astros, but his right-handed arm in the outfield and speed is what made him valuable. The Blue Jays have started a collection of former Astros outfielders and other players, but Fisher was the one to be designated for assignment and then eventually traded. The Blue Jays flipped Biagini, Sanchez, Stevenson, and Fisher for cash considerations and a PTBNL. Fisher joins former Astros minor leaguer Josh Hader, who is their All-Star closer, along with former Astros Assistant General Manager David Stearns, who is the Brewers’ President of Baseball Operations.

Joe Biagini

After being traded to Houston, Joe Biagini didn’t make a huge impact for the 2019 World Series push. The right-hander only appeared in 13 games and was also optioned to AAA during his short tenure. He will be forever known for his help in the combined no-hitter on Aug. 3, 2019, with former Blue Jays teammate Aaron Sanchez among others. Biagini battled shoulder soreness in 2020 that kept him in Corpus Christi at the alternate training facility, but he did appear in 4.1 innings while posting an ERA north of 20.00. The future in an Astros’ uniform was looking slim for the 30-year-old, and his struggles led to his release on Oct. 9. Biagini never pitched below an ERA of 7.00 with the Astros along with not appearing in a postseason game for Houston. There wasn’t a true spot in the bullpen for the right-hander, and during free agency, he signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs.

Aaron Sanchez

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The former ERA title holder and All-Star pitcher hit a rough patch in Houston. Aaron Sanchez battled injuries, although looking to be a long reliever/extra starter for the postseason in 2019. The right-hander was a contributor to the combined no-hitter, but through four starts with Houston, he would establish an ERA of 4.82. While missing the rest of the season due to injury, the Astros released him in December of 2019, which was the last time he was on a team. The injury rolled over into 2020, while Sanchez could be a healthily option on the market if teams need depth. That team is the San Francisco Giants, as they signed him for one year, $4 million on Tuesday night.

Cal Stevenson

While a prospect when the Astros acquired him, Cal Stevenson was playing well. With an OPS above the .800 mark, he wasn’t hitting for much power and mimicked a more sufficient Fisher. The outfielder looked to be a possible replacement for Fisher in the minors, but he would only play 20 games in Houston’s Minor League system with regressed number at the plate. On Jan. 9, 2020, the Tampa Bay Rays traded RHP Austin Pruitt to the Astros for RHP Peyton Battenfield and Stevenson. His tenure wasn’t long with the Astros, and he has become a forgotten name and a “what if?” Pruitt is a Houston native and among the surplus of former Tampa Bay Rays that are connected to GM James Click. The Astros ended up losing Fisher, Biagini, Sanchez, Stevenson and Battenfield for Pruitt, who missed all of the 2020 season due to surgery.

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I’ll let you be the judge on who truly won this trade, if there even is a winner. Houston ended up with a possible pitcher to add depth, and Toronto is left with a player that hasn’t been announced. At the time, it looked to have made sense for both sides, but as both teams are looking to contend in their respected divisions this year, this trade is only a year-and-a-half old and won’t affect the outcome.

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