When the Arizona Diamondbacks signed Zack Greinke to that mega-bucks contract some years ago, he was supposed to be the second coming of Randy Johnson. Now that he was beginning to look like that in 2019, the D-Backs traded him to the Houston Astros just minutes before the trade deadline July 31 for four minor league prospects.
My first reaction was probably like that of many other Arizonans: %$#@!&*^%$#! However, the more I thought about it, I could see what was going on here.
It was an interesting deal, if nothing else. The business side of it is the Astros will be paying off two thirds of the remainder of Greinke’s contract with the D-Backs, which comes to over $50 million. That’s money the D-backs may be able to spend somewhere else.
The Astros are in contention for the American League pennant, and the acquisition of Greinke makes them favorites to win the pennant and the World Series. With the D-Backs, Greinke was 10-4, 2.90 with 135 strikeouts in 146 innings pitched. He joins a starting rotation that includes Justin Verlander (14-4, 2.73), Gerrit Cole (12-5, 2.95) and Wade Miley (9-4, 3.06). With Houston’s potent offense, it’s easy to see how they have improved their chances at winning it all this year.
For the D-Backs, this was clearly a business decision. They knew they couldn’t afford to keep Greinke, so they traded him while they could still get something for him. They also concluded they weren’t going much of anywhere with Greinke, so they traded for prospects they can build a future team on.
It was Branch Rickey who once said he’d rather trade a player a year too early than try to trade him a year too late.
The Astros gave up three of the top five prospects in their farm system to get Greinke. They include first baseman Seth Beer (No. 3) and right-handed pitchers J.B. Bukauskas (No. 4) and Corbin Martin (No. 5). They also gave up their No. 22 prospect, Josh Rojas.
The essence of the deal is this: the Astros did what they did because they want to win now and have a very strong shot at winning now. The D-backs did what they did because they see little chance this season and they want to build for the future.
This could work out for the D-Backs. They got Carson Kelly and Luke Weaver in the deal with the St. Louis Cardinals for Paul Goldschmidt. Everyone knew Kelly was outstanding defensively, but he’d shown little indication of how well he could hit. So far this season, he’s 16-.268-41. Not bad.
Weaver was 4-3, 3.03 when he was injured at the end of May. He hasn’t been on the pitching mound since. However, the latest news is he has made major progress. If he comes back in 2019, it will likely be as a reliever.
I hated to see the D-Backs lose Greinke, but what’s done is done. I wish him plenty of luck in Houston, and I wish the Astros luck for the rest of the season.