The Astros are finally done trading on a day when it seemed like it would take a shorter list to show which players stayed with their teams around the league. A week or so after James Click acted like starting pitching might be a bigger need than relief pitching, he pulled the trigger three times in sending two marginal relievers, a non-permanent solution in centerfield and a backup infielder away and brought in four relievers and a young prospect of a catcher.
Pluses for the Astros – The Astros badly (like a thirsty man in the desert) needed a reliable late-inning option besides Ryan Pressly on this roster. Graveman is that guy, 4-0 with 10 saves, and microscopic 0.82 ERA and 0.697 WHIP and a solid 9.3 Ks/ 9 IPs and only 2.2 walks/ 9 IPs. Montero may or may not end up being a good piece for the Astros, though he was solid in 2019 (2-0, 2.48 ERA) and 2020 (8 saves, 4.08 ERA) for the Rangers, before this season where his 5-3 record and 7 saves are balanced out by a 7.37 ERA. Also, on the plus side, the Astros gave up Joe Smith, who was no longer trusted in high leverage situations and Toro, who, with Aledmys Diaz coming back and Alex Bregman following close behind, was basically going to be blocked as long as Bregman and Jose Altuve stick around.
Minuses for the Astros – In losing Toro, the Astros gave up one of the few players who have contributed off the bench for them lately and someone who they had developed and had been a top bat in their minors. They also lost a really good guy in Joe Smith, who did a ton off the field for people with Huntington’s Disease and was one of their best relievers in 2019. Graveman may end up being only a two-month rental, though if he helps them get through a third month successfully, no one may care.
Pluses for the Mariners – They pick up a good young bat with many years of control in Toro, who came in and cranked out a couple home runs in his first two games with the M’s. Toro also gives them a future hedge in case Kyle Seager moves on after the season. They unload Montero, who they had just DFA’d. And perhaps they traded Graveman at the top of his value.
Minuses for the Mariners – For a team that had ridden their bullpen to big success in close games (55-48 despite being outscored by 58 runs), they did not seem to value their bullpen much in a headscratcher of a trade deadline move.
Pluses for the Astros – If getting one late-inning relief option is a positive, picking up Yimi Garcia is even better. Garcia has been a good late-inning option for the Marlins in 2021 with 15 saves. He has pitched in 39 games and given up 14 runs overall and 1/2 those runs in two bad outings. His ERA in the other 37 games is an excellent 1.80. Pruitt was designated for assignment before he was dealt, so that was not a true loss.
Minuses for the Astros – Bryan De La Cruz was hitting as well as anyone in the minors….unless you want to count OF Jake Meyers, who was just called up from Sugar Land. Yimi Garcia is again a potential 2 (or 3) month rental, though the Astros will have money coming off the books to chase Garcia and Graveman in the offseason.
Minuses for the Marlins – Nothing too much. They are not going anywhere this year, so why not send a 30 year old, soon to be free agent closer away for a young, potentially long term outfield bat?
Pluses for the Astros – This one may have been a bit more of a stretch as Maton has a 4.57 ERA in both 2019 and 2020 and is currently walking a bad 4.4 hitters / 9 IP. But he is supposedly a spin master and he does strike out 13.3 hitters per 9 IP and he has been much improved in June and especially July. An opportunity to pick up a young catcher who seems to be a good hitter is a plus, even if he has never played above A ball.
Minuses for the Astros – Losing Myles Straw may or may not hurt. GM Jim Click before Friday night’s game basically said that he thought that both Chas McCormick and Jake Meyers deserve to get some playing time. Though Straw was improving as a hitter, the Astros obviously are looking for more pop. Could this hurt them – sure – Meyers has never played at the MLB level and McCormick has not shown much pop lately like he did early.
Pluses for the (Fill in any name you want here) – They get a young OF in Straw who has speed, who has gotten to be a better clutch hitter and who is controllable for a while.
Minuses for the (This space for rent) – If Brent Strom turns Maton into the next Ryan Pressly and/or Diaz becomes a force down the line this may have been a mistake.
The other consideration here that the Astros never admitted, but must have been on their minds was to make sure they did not go over the luxury tax line. After giving up some salary and taking on some salary they ended up about $560K under that line. Going over that line for a second year in a row would have cost some money in penalties, but more importantly would have affected what pick compensation they would get from losing free agents (that were offered qualifying offers) and would affect how large their pool for signing international free agents.
So….what grade would you give James Click after his first real trade deadline with the Astros?