Four Final Thoughts on the Astros Trade Deadline Deals

Gerrit Cole may be a free agent next year, but he's part of the best rotation in baseball in decades this year.
Gerrit Cole may be a free agent next year, but he's part of the best rotation in baseball in decades this year. Photo by Eric Sauseda
Last week, the Astros pulled off a shocking blockbuster deal adding Zack Greinke to a rotation that already includes Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. It was the biggest in a series of moves on trade deadline day, one in which the Astros dominated the news.

After a weekend in which they threw a combined no hitter against the Mariners in which three of their newly acquired players were instrumental (not Grienke, by the way, who has his first start on Tuesday) and swept the series, there are some lingering thoughts about the moves that have thrust the Astros even deeper into contention.

4. They did everything they needed to do and more.

Not only did they land a third starter in Grienke — basically, they now have three aces in their starting rotation — but they got Aaron Sanchez, who had been struggling until his six-inning-zero-hit outing on Saturday, and help for their bullpen in the form of Joe Biagini, who was also part of that no-no. But there was more.

First, they only gave up Derek Fisher in the deal for Sanchez and Biagini, an outfielder who never stood a chance in the team's outfielder-deep collection of talent. Then, they swapped Tony Kemp, who had struggled at the plate all season, for former Astro Martin Maldonado who remains one of the better defensive catchers in baseball as a backup to Robinison Chirinos. That allowed them to ship Max Stassi to the Dodgers for prospects.

They literally needed starting rotation, bullpen and backup catching help and they got all of it in the span of a couple days.

3. They protected their future while improving their present.

Not only does Grienke give them an incredible third arm in the rotation, but he is under contract for two more seasons. Sanchez, if he can turn things around under the tutelage of the Astros pitching brain trust, will remain under team control for a while. Given that both Cole and Wade Miley are free agents after this season, it hedges against losing one or both of them in the offseason.

That is icing on top of an unbelievable cake considering the talent that is on this current roster with so many great players still in the prime of their careers.

2. Now healthy, they were already damn good.

In case you missed it, Yourdan Alvarez won AL Rookie of the Month for July, Cole picked up AL Pitcher of the Month and Yuli Gurriel was the AL Player of July. With everyone back and healthy, this was already a stacked lineup even without their new additions. Adding Grienke and the rest only makes them more dangerous than they were, which should frighten the hell out of AL contenders.

1. The Astros now have the best three-man starting rotation in baseball, maybe the best in years.

There is a chance Verlander, Cole and Greinke could be the modern-day Greg Maddox, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves. Baseball hasn't seen a pitching trio of this caliber in quite some time. Whether they can hold that group together for more than one year remains to be seen, but for now, there is no better rotation in baseball, even setting aside a tremendous year from Miley.

At this point, Jeff Lunhow is not just the best GM in Astros history, he is likely the best in Houston sports history.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke