The Houston Astros acquired ace Zack Greinke on Wednesday, adding another All-Star 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. It came right before the deadline to complete deals to have players eligible for the postseason.
“We are just really shocked and ecstatic,” Cole said before Houston played at Cleveland, adding, “I'm really proud to be an Astro right now.”
Cole said when the players learned of the deal there was “a lot of hooting and hollering at 4:07. We are ecstatic. We're getting a Hall of Fame pitcher, a craftsman.”
Greinke pitched five innings earlier in the day at Yankee Stadium, giving up two runs to New York. He is 10-4 with a 2.90 ERA this season.
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.
The Astros won the 2017 World Series and lost the 2018 ALCS to eventual champion Boston. They loaded up again with Greinke, getting a six-time All-Star and the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner.
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.
Before the team confirmed the deal, Astros manager AJ Hinch didn't want to show too much excitement while knowing he was getting one of baseball's most consistent pitchers.
“I know he's an Astro,” Hinch said. “I know he's really good. I don't know him personally, but I'm going to get to know him. We acquired him because of how good he is. Certainly we expect him to be a big part of our push to win the division and keep winning into October. He's an incredible pitcher.”
There was a palpable buzz in Houston's clubhouse. Cole credited owner Jim Crane, general manager Jeff Luhnow and the front office staff for their hard work in making the trade happen.
“What a pickup,” Cole said. “They nailed it. They did a magnificent job.”
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.
“Houston made some big deals. 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, 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.
Sanchez was 3-14 with a 6.07 ERA. A 2016 All-Star, the 27-year-old righty has been sidelined by fingernail problem in the past.
“One opportunity that I get to do is to go down to Houston and learn from guys like Justin Verlander, like Gerrit Cole, who's had an unbelievable year. Like Zack Greinke who's won a couple of Cy Youngs himself. The opportunity to play playoff baseball and a chance to win a ring,” he said. “This is why you play the game. To be able to have that opportunity again, I'm thrilled.”
Biagini, 29-year-old righty, was 3-1 with one save and a 3.86 ERA in 49 games.
“You go and look at their roster and they're all these guys are really good. It's a fun feeling to think that a team like that with such good players would want someone like me to contribute,” Biagini said. “And, so I was wondering if I was going to get traded if it would be a team in the U.S. It turned out to be. That was cool. But, I do really enjoy Toronto, and playing for a whole country was really cool, and I hope that I contributed positively.”
Other notable trades
Diamondbacks land Leake
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.
Castellanos to Cubs
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.
Braves nab closer Greene
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.
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 trade Stanek for two players, acquire slugger Aguilar
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.
Also Wednesday, the Milwaukee Brewers traded slumping slugger Jesus Aguilar to the Rays.
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.
Nationals add bullpen help
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 get pitching help — for Class-A
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.
Giants add Melancon, Gennett
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. Dyson, a 34-year-old right-hander, is 4-2 with a 3.50 ERA in 43 appearances and 46 1/3 innings this season. The Giants also received Class A pitcher Tristan Beck.
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.
Phillies land 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.
Roark sent to Oakland
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.
Roark is 6-7 in 21 starts with a 4.24 ERA and can become a free agent after the season.
Maldonado back with Astros
Martin Maldonado is on the move for the second time this month.
The Houston Astros acquired the veteran catcher from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Tony Kemp. The Cubs got Maldonado from the Kansas City Royals earlier in July.
The 32-year-old Maldonado has started 74 games behind the plate this year. He also spent time in Houston last year, playing 41 games for the Astros.
The 27-year-old Kemp was designated for assignment Friday. He hit .227 in 66 games for the Astros this year.