The 2015 season was the beginning of the Astros on the field Renaissance as it ended a four year period where they had averaged a 58-104 record. In fact, if you take out the very bad 70-92 2014 season, you would have had a putrid 3 seasons where they averaged 54 wins and 108 losses. So, looking back at the wild card 2015 season, the above-average 2016 season and the 100+ wins of 2017 thru 2019, what were the top ten trades of that scalawag Jeff Luhnow during this period?
- Justin Verlander. (8-31-17 from the Tigers for Jake Rogers, Daz Cameron and Franklin Perez) No surprise here as this was the most impactful trade in Astros history, paving the way to a World Series win, a WS appearance and a deep playoff run in his 2+ seasons with the team. Oh, and the Tigers threw in OF Juan Ramirez on top of JV. Oh and for the cherry on top of the sundae, Verlander signed a 2-year extension.
- Gerrit Cole. (1-13-18 from the Pirates for Colin Moran, Joe Musgrove, Jason Martin and Michael Feliz) Cole was magnificent in his two seasons with the Astros earning the first contract for a pitcher for over $300 million in the history of the game. No, the Astros did not win a World Series with him, but if A.J. Hinch had brought him out of the bullpen in Game 7…….
- Yordan Alvarez.(8-1-16 from the Dodgers for Josh Fields) This could be the new generation’s Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen trade. Alvarez came in from Cuba, tore up the minors and then in 2019 tore up the majors while earning the AL Rookie of the Year award with a transcendent half-season of epic hitting.
- Zack Greinke (7-31-19 from the D’Backs for Corbin Martin, J.B. Bukauskas, Seth Beer and Josh Rojas) Lost in the shadow of the Cy Young battle between Verlander and Cole, Greinke came in with a very good two months of pitching for the Astros going 8-1 with a 3.02 ERA. This was critical as Wade Miley went south down the stretch. Greinke also pitched well in the postseason, including his excellent start in Game 7 of the World Series.
- Brian McCann (11-17-16 from the Yankees for Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman) Perhaps his statistics were not as gaudy as in his younger years, But especially in 2017, he gave the Astros very solid numbers that combined with Evan Gattis gave the team one of the most potent catching tandems in the majors. It was also apparent that he was the on-field leader and a calming influence on the pitching staff during the WS run.
- Ryan Pressly. (7-27-18 from the Twins for Gilberto Celestino and Jorge Alcala) Pressly has been nails since coming over from the Twins, including setting a major league record of 40 consecutive scoreless appearances spanning 2018 and 2019. The knee injury he suffered in 2019 affected his performance down the stretch, but when healthy he has been one of the most impactful relievers for the Astros since the days of Brad Lidge and Billy Wagner.
- Roberto Osuna. (7-30-18 from the Blue Jays for Ken Giles, David Paulino and Hector Perez) This was a “new starts” trade for both Osuna and Giles as Osuna was coming off of a suspension for domestic abuse and Giles had melted down with his manager A.J. Hinch. Osuna while not perfect has been darned good and has 50 saves in his season plus two months with the team along with a very good 2.46 ERA. His postseason performance, especially in 2018 – much shakier.
- Evan Gattis. (1-14-15 with James Hoyt from the Braves for Mike Foltynewicz, Andrew Thurman and Rio Ruiz) Between regular and post-season Gattis hit 97 HRs for the Astros over the 4 seasons he played for the club, but probably none bigger than the one he hit in the 7th game of the 2017 ALCS against the Yanks to give the Astros the lead they never surrendered.
- Ken Giles. (1-12-15 traded with Jonathan Arauz from the Phillies for Mark Appel, Vince Velasquez, Brett Oberholtzer, Harold Arauz and Tom Eshelman) Giles had a lot of ups and downs in his 2-1/2 seasons with the club. His 61 saves were solid, but by the time he was traded he was no longer someone the team felt they could rely on. His best season was the 2017 WS season, but his 34 save, 2.30 ERA regular season morphed into an 11.74 ERA nightmare in the playoffs.
- Aledmys Diaz. (11-17-18 traded from the Blue Jays for Trent Thornton). Diaz would probably be higher on this list if he had played more than 69 games for the Astros in 2019. After a very difficult start both at bat and in the field, he settled down and became a very solid contributor during the first half of the season (.271 BA/.823 OPS) and committing only 3 errors in the field while playing all four infield positions plus left field. Again missing time due to injury derailed a very good season for Diaz.
There can be and will likely be arguments along the way about how much the Astros gave up in prospect capital to obtain these 10 players. But these trades were a big part of 5 seasons that brought 4 playoff runs, 2 WS appearances and a championship. Most fans would vote to roll these dice again. So where do you stand on these trades? Would you put them in a different order? Would there be any trades you would like to rescind?