The cost of acquiring an ace pitcher was extremely steep for the Astros, who were surrendering their number 3, number 4, and number 5 prospects - 1B Seth Beer, RHP J.B. Bukauskas, and RHP Corbin Martin (injured and out after Tommy John surgery), plus INF Josh Rojas and cash. That cash is said to be about one-third of Greinke’s remaining salaries.
But, the upside of the deal would be huge. The Astros would go into the stretch run with a starting rotation of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke, and Wade Miley. It was not their only move, either. The Astros also picked up RHP Aaron Sanchez and RHP Joe Biagini, plus minor league OF Cal Stevenson, surrendering OF Derek Fisher.
Also, the Greinke trade was not a rental. Greinke is also under contract for 2020 and 2021. With Cole and Miley both due to become free agents at the end of the 2019 season, Greinke will join Verlander in the next two seasons, along with the return of Lance McCullers Jr. and hopefully top prospect Forrest Whitley.
So, one month later, how did this trade look?
As of 8/27/2019
Zack Greinke: 2.45 ERA in 4 starts, 4 wins, 0 losses, 25 ⅔ innings, 15/7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. +0.4 bWAR
So far, so good. And the DBacks side?
Seth Beer: .657 OPS in 21 games, 82 at-bats, 1 HR (Double-A)
J.B. Bukauskas: 7.71 ERA in 2 starts, 7 innings, 11/5 strikeout-to-walk ratio (Double-A)
Josh Rojas: 1.518 OPS in 8 games, 35 at-bats, 3 HR, 14 RBI (AAA)
.497 OPS in 13 games, 36 at bats, -0.2 WAR (MLB)
With Corbin Martin sidelined, so far this trade looks very lopsided. Rojas got to the majors with Arizona, where he was blocked in Houston. It’s too early to tell if Rojas is going to be good in MLB, although StatCast sees his expected wOBA being .294 rather than his real mark of .231. His expected wOBA on contact is .346, which is still below league-average, but encouraging based on his early struggles. Also, for what it’s worth, projection system Steamer sees Rojas as a league-average hitter (96 RC+) for the rest of the year. Not bad.
The sample size for the other two prospects is pretty tiny. So, let’s see the projections. Steamer sees him as a .261/.324/.440 hitter in the Majors right now, about league-average with a 94 RC+. For Bukauskas, the outlook is much less rosy, with a 5.01 ERA and a decent strikeout rate of 8.52 but a lousy walk rate per nine innings of 5.47.
Obviously, it’s too early to say, but essentially, Houston got an ace in Greinke for a decent infielder, a guy whose big minor league power may not translate to MLB, a future reliever, and an unknown in Martin who’s coming off Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. It doesn’t look so hot for the DBacks. But, what about that unknown?
In fairness, Martin’s projection is significantly better than that of Bukauskas: 4.55 ERA with 9 K/9 and 3.91 BB/9 according to Steamer. ZiPs is nowhere as bullish: 5.33 ERA, 7.36 K/9, 3.45 BB/9. Those numbers are clearly weighing his poor performance before surgery this year more so than Steamer. But, Martin could save this whole deal, along with Rojas. Right now, Houston is very happy to have a likely future Hall of Famer for now and the next two seasons.
Did you see this deal coming? What was your favorite deal of the 2019 MLB Trade Deadline?
If you’re a card collector, the key rookie card for Zack Greinke is his 2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Autograph. It’s most valuable if graded Gem Mint (PSA 10 or BGS 9.5). But, there are also many other Zack Greinke rookie cards to collect if you are interested in collecting or investing in the likely future Hall of Fame pitcher.