The most stunning deal done at this year’s trade deadline didn’t come together until the final 20 minutes, and the result is a starting rotation that’s sure to be long remembered.
The Houston Astros acquired ace Zack Greinke on Wednesday, adding another All-Star and Cy Young Award winner to a formidable rotation that already included Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.
The AL West leaders got Greinke in a startling trade with Arizona for four minor leaguers, a deal in which the Diamondbacks agreed to pay the Astros $26 million to cover much of the roughly $76 million the pitcher is due.
“We have two pitchers on our team, maybe more that are Hall of Fame-caliber,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “And I think we have a rotation that’s set up to compete in any series against any team for the rest of this year.”
Arizona general manager Mike Hazen said the trade was rushed into place in the final 20 minutes before the 4 p.m. deadline for trades. Astros players learned about the swap at 4:07 p.m. in the visiting clubhouse in Cleveland, and Cole said there was “a lot of hooting and hollering” over “getting a Hall of Fame pitcher, a craftsman.”
“We are just really shocked and ecstatic,” Cole said.
Greinke pitched five innings earlier in the day at Yankee Stadium, giving up two runs to New York. He was pulled from the game during a rain delay, and manager Torey Lovullo interrupted Greinke watching video of the start so Hazen could inform him of the deal.
The 35-year-old Greinke left the ballpark without commenting to reporters. The trade was officially announced after 5:30 p.m., following Arizona’s 7-5 loss.
Houston won its first World Series title in 2017 and lost the 2018 AL Championship Series to eventual champion Boston. The Astros loaded up again with Greinke, getting a six-time All-Star and the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner. He is 10-4 with a 2.90 ERA this season.
Greinke’s addition gives the Astros four starting pitchers with ERAs in the top 15 in the majors this year. Verlander is fifth with a 2.73 ERA, Greinke is ninth, Cole is 11th at 2.94 and Wade Miley ranks 14th at 3.06. Verlander leads the AL in wins (14) and ERA, and Cole tops with the majors with 212 strikeouts.
Verlander is second among active players in victories at 218 and Greinke is third at 197. Those two top the list among active pitchers for career wins above replacement, per Baseball-Reference.com, with Greinke at 70 and Verlander at 68.
“If we stay healthy,” Luhnow said, “this team is as good as any team I’ve ever seen.”
There was a palpable buzz in Houston’s clubhouse. Colem eligible for free agency after this season. credited owner Jim Crane, Luhnow and the front office staff for their work in making the trade happen.
“What a pickup,” Cole said. “They nailed it. They did a magnificent job.”
Over 16 stellar seasons, Greinke has gotten something of a crabby reputation — for instance, he said last month he’d rather never throw a no-hitter because “a bunch of nonsense comes with it.” He was well received over four seasons in Arizona, even becoming a regular in the Diamondbacks war room during the amateur draft. The Diamondbacks raved about his clubhouse presence.
“Zack got a bad rap from places he was before, but everyone here loved him,” Arizona reliever Archie Bradley said.
Arizona agreed to send Houston $24 million to offset much of the $74,161,290 Greinke is owed in salary plus $2 million to cover the assignment bonus he gets for being traded. The Diamondbacks pay the Astros $2 million on Nov. 1 for the assignment bonus and pay Houston $3,333,333 on Oct. 15 plus $10,333,333 each on July 1 in 2020 and 2021.
Greinke’s $206.5 million, six-year contract includes a $31.5 million salary for this year — which has $10,161,290 remaining — plus $32 million in each of the next two seasons. His deal defers $10.5 million in 2019 salary and $11 million in each of the next two years, and Houston assumes responsibility for the deferred money being accrued starting Thursday.
The Astros, who began the day with an eight-game division lead over Oakland, also acquired two other pitchers, getting starter Aaron Sanchez and reliever Joe Biagini from Toronto, along with catcher Martin Maldonado from the Cubs.
“They’re really good. They were good before,” Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski said.
For Greinke, the Diamondbacks got right-handers J.B. Bukauskas and Corbin Martin, outfielder Seth Beer and infielder Joshua Rojas.
For Biagini, Sanchez and minor league outfielder Cal Stevenson, the Blue Jays acquired outfielder Derek Fisher. The Astros also sent catcher Max Stassi to the Angels for minor league outfielders Rainier Rivas and Raider Uceta. Maldonado came in exchange for outfielder Tony Kemp.
The Los Angeles Angels have acquired catcher Max Stassi from the Houston Astros in exchange for minor-league outfielders Rainier Rivas and Raider Uceta.
Stassi, who has played in parts of seven seasons with the Astros, is batting .167 with a home run and three RBIs in 31 games this season. General manager Billy Eppler said the move was more about adding catching depth and Stassi’s strength behind the plate. According to MLB Statcast, Stassi is the second-best pitch framer in the AL with a 54.1% strike rate.
Catcher Dustin Garneau was designated for assignment before Wednesday’s game against the Detroit Tigers..
Minor stays with Rangers
Mike Minor will make his scheduled start for the Rangers after the trade deadline passed with the All-Star lefty still in Texas.
Hunter Pence, the All-Star designated hitter, is also still with his hometown team and in the lineup Wednesday night when Minor and the Rangers play the Seattle Mariners, an AL West rival that traded three pitchers Wednesday.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels says his team, which has dropped a game under .500, explored a lot of different options.
“There were a couple of things that got close later today that I thought might come to fruition, but ultimately it didn’t line up for one side or the other,” Daniels said, without getting into specifics.
Minor, who is signed with the Rangers through next season, drew interest from teams looking to boost their rotations.
Daniels said the Rangers weren’t going to force a deal, and that the future options could include Minor pitching in Texas beyond next season.
Leake heads to Arizona
The Arizona Diamondbacks have acquired right-hander Mike Leake from the Seattle Mariners for a minor leaguer.
Seattle will receive infielder Jose Caballero in the trade.
The 31-year-old Leake went 9-8 with a 4.40 ERA in 22 starts with the Mariners this season. He has played 10 big-league seasons, with stops in Cincinnati, San Francisco and St. Louis.
Leake was traded to Seattle from St. Louis for Rayder Ascanio in 2017.
Braves land P Melancon
The Giants have traded former closer Mark Melancon to the Atlanta Braves for right-handed reliever Daniel Winkler and a minor league pitcher.
Melancon signed a $62 million, four-year contract with San Francisco in December 2016 but didn’t emerge as the dominant closer he had been in part because of injuries. He had just 15 saves in his two-plus seasons with the Giants.
In addition, San Francisco sent right-handed reliever Sam Dyson to the Twins and kept 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner.
The 34-year-old right-hander is 4-2 with a 3.50 ERA in 43 appearances and 46 1/3 innings this season.
When the Giants acquired him, Melancon had saved at least 30 games in three straight seasons, recording a majors-best 51 in 2015. He went 47 for 51 in save opportunities in 75 relief appearances last season with Pittsburgh and Washington,
Winkler is 3-1 with a 4.98 ERA in 27 appearances this season. The Giants also received Class A pitcher Tristan Beck.
OF Castellanos now a Cub
The Chicago Cubs acquired outfielder Nicholas Castellanos from the Detroit Tigers for two minor league pitchers.
The 27-year-old Castellanos hit .273 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs for Detroit this season. He’s played third base and in the outfield during his career and has been considered a liability defensively, but Castellanos gives Chicago a productive bat against left-handed pitching.
Detroit received right-handers Paul Richan and Alex Lange.
Castellanos is tied for the major league lead with 37 doubles. He has a .347 average and a 1.026 OPS this year in 72 at-bats against lefties.
Brewers grab two pitchers
Milwaukee has acquired left-hander Drew Pomeranz and righty Ray Black from the San Francisco Giants for infield prospect Mauricio Dubon.
Also Wednesday, San Francisco obtained second baseman Scooter Gennett from the Reds for a player to be named. Cincinnati will send cash to the Giants to cover part of Gennett’s $9,775,000 salary.
Until the Giants recently began winning, there had been speculation for months that left-handed ace Madison Bumgarner — the 2014 World Series MVP — would be on the trading block, but he is staying put as San Francisco (54-53) tries to contend in manager Bruce Bochy’s final season before retirement.
The Brewers were looking to add pitching depth given a decision was expected Tuesday on whether left-hander Gio Gonzalez would need a stint on the injured list after he left his start last Friday against the Cubs with tightness in his pitching shoulder. Pomeranz can work as a starter or reliever.
Milwaukee acquired right-hander Jordan Lyles from the Pirates on Monday to boost the rotation.
Tigers deal closer to Braves
The Atlanta Braves have acquired closer Shane Greene from the Detroit Tigers for two minor leaguers.
The 30-year-old Greene went 0-2 with a 1.18 ERA and 22 saves this season for the rebuilding Tigers. Now he’ll have a chance to help Atlanta’s bullpen. The NL East leaders also added reliever Chris Martin this week in a trade with Texas.
Detroit receives left-hander Joey Wentz and outfielder Travis Demeritte from the Braves.
Luke Jackson has 17 saves for the Braves this year but has a 3.96 ERA. Atlanta blew a three-run lead in the late innings at Washington on Wednesday before recovering to win in the 10.
Greene was mostly a starter in his first two big league seasons but has pitched almost exclusively in relief since 2016. He had 32 saves but a 5.12 ERA in 2018. This season has been much more successful for the right-hander.
Rays acquire 2 pitchers from Marlins
The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired right-handers Trevor Richards and Nick Anderson from the Miami Marlins.
The Rays sent to Miami right-hander Ryne Stanek and minor league outfielder Jesus Sanchez.
Richards, who recently lost his spot in the Marlins’ rotation, is 3-12 this year with an ERA of 4.50. Anderson has a 3.92 ERA in 45 games of relief this year.
Stanek has been used mostly as an opener by the Rays this year, and he has a 3.40 ERA in 41 games. Sanchez, a 21-year-old left-handed hitter, is batting .275 with Double-A Montgomery.
The Rays also sent reliever Adam Kolarek to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Niko Hulsizer, a Class A outfielder.
Dodgers deal with Cards
The Los Angeles Dodgers added infielder Jedd Gyorko, acquiring him from the St. Louis Cardinals for left-hander Tony Cingrani and minor league righty Jeffry Abreu. The Dodgers also receive international cap space and cash considerations.
The 30-year-old Gyorko has been on the injured list since June 8 with back and right wrist issues. He’s hitting .196 on the season.
Cingrani is also out following left shoulder surgery and hasn’t pitched this season.
The Dodgers entered the day with a 70-39 record, easily the best mark in the National League.
Nats beef up bullpen
The Washington Nationals tried to upgrade their bullpen, acquiring relievers Roenis Elias and Hunter Strickland from Seattle and Daniel Hudson in a trade with Toronto.
The Mariners received a trio of minor league pitchers from the Nationals — left-handers Taylor Guilbeau and Aaron Fletcher and right-hander Elvis Alvarado. Washington sent minor league right-hander Kyle Johnston to Toronto for Hudson, who can become a free agent at the end of the season.
Elias has been Seattle’s primary closer for the majority of the season after Strickland suffered a lat strain in the opening week and missed several months. Strickland has appeared in just four major league games this season.
Elias has appeared in 44 games and was 4-2 with a 4.40 ERA and 14 saves for Seattle.
The 32-year-old Hudson went 6-3 with a 3.00 ERA and two saves in 45 games for the Blue Jays.
Yankees relatively quiet
The Yankees got a pitcher at the deadline — for one of their Class A affiliates.
New York acquired left-hander Alfredo Garcia from the Colorado Rockies for right-handed reliever Joseph Harvey in a deal announced shortly after the 4 p.m. deadline to make deals.
The Yankees have been seeking pitching upgrades for the big league club. Garcia won’t be that, at least not this year. The 20-year-old is 2-9 with a 6.28 ERA in Class A. He’s struck out 103 in 90 1/3 innings.
Harvey pitched 10 innings out of New York’s bullpen this year as a rookie, posting a 4.50 ERA.
Phillies get OF Dickerson
The Philadelphia Phillies bolstered their outfield by acquiring veteran Corey Dickerson from the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash and a player to be named.
Dickerson, who could become a free agent at the end of the season, hit .317 with four home runs and 25 RBIs for the Pirates. The 30-year-old missed most of the first half of the season with a strained throwing shoulder.
The Pirates acquired Dickerson from Tampa Bay on the eve of the 2018 regular season. Dickerson responded by hitting .300 with 13 home runs and 55 RBIs. He also won his first career Gold Glove for his play in left field.
Pittsburgh’s fade from contention after the All-Star break and the rise of young outfielder Bryan Reynolds in Dickerson’s absence made him expendable for a team now looking toward 2020 and beyond.
A’s get Roark from Reds
The playoff-contending Oakland Athletics have acquired starter Tanner Roark from the Cincinnati Reds, filling out a rotation that also could have left-hander Sean Manaea back soon.
Oakland dealt outfield prospect Jameson Hannah to Cincinnati. The Reds are sending Oakland $2.1 million to offset much of the $3,225,806 remaining in Roark’s $10 million salary.
The A’s began the day a half-game out of the second AL wild-card spot.
Roark lasted a season-low 3 1/3 innings during Cincinnati’s 11-4 loss to the Pirates on Tuesday. He is 6-7 in 21 starts with a 4.24 ERA and can become a free agent after the season.
Manaea struck out eight in six innings of a rehab start at Triple-A this week. He’s likely to get one more rehab start before being activated. He had shoulder surgery last September.
D-backs gets rookie starter
The Arizona Diamondbacks have acquired rookie right-hander Zac Gallen from the Miami Marlins for minor league shortstop Jazz Chisholm.
Gallen, who turns 24 on Saturday, is 1-3 with a 2.72 ERA in seven starts since making his major league debut June 20. Gallen pitched at North Carolina and was a third-round draft choice by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016
Chisholm, 21, was rated the Diamondbacks’ No. 1 prospect by MLB.com. He batted .204 with 18 homers and 13 stolen bases this season for Double-A Jackson. The native of the Bahamas is a career .253 hitter in the minors with 53 homers in 292 games since 2016.
Rays get Aguilar from Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers have traded slumping slugger Jesus Aguilar to the Tampa Bay Rays, a person familiar with the deal tells The Associated Press.
The Brewers are getting right-handed reliever Jake Faria, according to multiple reports.
Aguilar was an All-Star last year, hitting 35 home runs with 108 RBIs for the NL Central champion Brewers. But the 29-year-old first baseman got off to a slow start this season and eventually lost playing time.
Aguilar is hitting .225 with eight homers and 34 RBIs this year.
The 26-year-old Faria has a 2.70 ERA in seven games for Tampa Bay.
Rangers get injured reliever
The Texas Rangers have acquired right-hander Nate Jones from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for minor league pitchers Joe Jarneski and Ray Castro.
Chicago will send the Rangers $750,000 as part of the deal to cover part of the $1.5 million remaining in the $4.65 million salary for Jones, who is on the injured list after surgery to repair a flexor mass tear in his right forearm. He is not expected to pitch again this season.
Texas also will get $1 million in international signing bonus pool allotment for 2019-20.
Jones had a 3.48 ERA in 13 relief appearances this season before going on the injured list April 27. His contract includes a $3.75 million club option for 2020 with a $1.25 million buyout.
The 19-year-old Jarneski is in the Arizona League, and the 22-year-old Castro in the Dominican Summer League.