The Houston Astros may have positioned themselves as World Series favorites when they acquired Arizona ace Zack Greinke in a deal that did not come to light until about 15 minutes after Wednesday’s 1 p.m. PDT trade deadline.
Greinke, a 35-year-old right-hander who won the 2009 American League Cy Young Award with the Kansas City Royals, will provide a significant boost to an Astros rotation that is headed by Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley.
Houston, which entered play Wednesday with an eight-game lead over Oakland in the AL West, also added right-hander Aaron Sanchez — most likely the team’s new No. 5 starter — in a trade with Toronto on Wednesday.
Greinke, who is signed through 2021, is making $31.5 million this season and will be paid $32 million in 2020 and 2021. His acquisition also gives the Astros, who won the 2017 World Series, some rotation insurance if Cole, an Orange County product who has been linked to the Angels, departs as a free agent after this season.
The Astros will send first-base prospect Seth Beer, pitching prospects Corbin Martin and J.B. Bukauskas, and infield prospect Josh Rojas to the Diamondbacks. Arizona is also reportedly sending $24 million in cash to Houston. That means Houston will assume $53 million of the six-year, $206.5-million contract Greinke signed with the Diamondbacks before the 2016 season.
Few playoff teams would be able to match the dominance of Houston’s top three starters. Verlander is 14-4 with a 2.73 ERA in 23 starts, with 196 strikeouts and 31 walks in 151 2/3 innings, and Cole is 12-5 with a 2.94 ERA in 23 starts, which 212 strikeouts and 37 walks in 143 innings.
Greinke has struck out 141 and walked 18 in 141 innings. Miley is 9-4 with a 3.06 ERA. The addition of Greinke and Sanchez would allow the Astros to move No. 5 starter Brad Peacock to a deep bullpen headed by closer Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly, Will Harris and Chris Devenski.