Here’s a look at the significant deals made by Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow since he took over 14 months ago (you can click on each player’s name for his 2012 stats):
Date: Dec. 14, 2011.
Red Sox receive: RHP Mark Melancon.
The skinny: Luhnow’s first trade as GM was a good one. Weiland showed promise last spring before a serious arm infection ended his season, but Lowrie proved to be one of the team’s top offensive weapons when healthy. Luhnow wound up dealing Lowrie to the A’s for three players earlier this week, giving this trade even a more significant return. Melancon was a bust in Boston and has landed in Pittsburgh.
Date: March 21, 2012.
The skinny: Quintero and Bourgeois were back-ups who couldn’t crack the starting lineup of a last-place team, and Luhnow managed to trade them for two Minor Leaguers. Chapman had a good year in relief at Double-A Corpus Christi last season and could be a left-handed option in the pen down the road. Toney played at Greeneville and remains a work in progress.
Date: July 4, 2012.
The skinny: The first of five major trades in July, the Marlins were desperate for first base help and gave the Astros two Minor League players for the aging slugger. The Astros were happy to get him off their roster, and were even willing to pay the bulk of his remaining contract. Dominguez was brought up to the Majors and was impressive, hitting .284 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 109 at-bats. Everyone knew he could play defense, but he showed enough offensively that he’ll enter spring as the starting third baseman. Rasmussen was shipped to the Dodgers for RHP John Ely a few months later.
Date: July 20, 2012.
The skinny: The Astros acquired seven players, including four Minor Leaguers and a player to be named later, in a 10-player deal with the Jays. Happ had been with the team two years and could never gain consistency, while Lyon was in the final year of his three-year deal. This trade was more about the Minor League arms the Astros received, while addressing a catching shortage in the system, more than it was about the two big league players they received. Neither Cordero nor Francisco made it to the end of the season in Houston. Musgrove, Comer and Perez are among the Astros’ top 20 prospects.
Date: July 21, 2012.
The skinny: With Myers having a good shot at vesting his 2013 option that would have paid him $10 million, the Astros sent him to the White Sox and stockpiled a few more Minor League arms. Myers was having a solid season as closer after starting 66 games the previous two years in Houston. Heidenreich finished the year in the rotation at Double-A Corpus Christi and pitched well, while Walters took his lumps as a starter in the hitter-friendly environment in Lancaster.
Date: July 25, 2012.
The skinny: The rebuilding effort continued as the Astros sent Rodriguez – the last remaining member from the 2005 World Series team – to the Pirates for three more prospects. The Astros had to pay a substantial part of Rodriguez’s remaining contract, but they felt getting more prospect was worth the price. Owens will come to Major League camp and will likely start the year in the rotation at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Grossman will also be at big league camp after getting on-base at a .422 clip in 36 games last year in Double-A Corpus Christi.
Date: July 29, 2012.
D-backs receive: 3B Chris Johnson.
The skinny: The Astros pulled off their fifth trade of the month. Houston wasn’t actively shopping Johnson, but he had recently gone on a tear and some teams were getting aggressive in their pursuit of the 27-year-old third baseman. Unlike the previous trades in July in which the Astros stockpiled the pitching, the Johnson trade brought a pair of bats, and in the case of Borchering, maybe some much-needed power to the system. Borchering hit four homers in 30 games at Double-A Corpus Christi, giving him 24 homers and 86 RBIs for the season as a whole. Krauss killed it in Corpus Christi, hitting .414 with a .514 on-base percentage and a 1.000 slugging percentage with five homers and 16 RBIs in only seven games. He finished the year in the outfield at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Date: Dec. 5, 2012.
Rockies receive: RHP Wilton Lopez and player to be named later or cash..
The skinny: Less than a week after the Astros tried to send Lopez to the Phillies, they were able to use the arbitration-eligible relief pitcher to acquire White and right-hander Gillingham. White appeared in 23 games (20 starts) for the Rockies last season and was 2-9 with a 5.51 ERA. He split the season between Colorado and Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he went 3-4 with a 3.71 ERA. He will battle for a spot in the rotation this spring, but could pitch out of the bullpen.
Date: Dec. 19, 2012
Astros receive: RHP John Ely.
Dodgers receive: LHP Rob Rasmussen.
The skinny: The Astros gave up a 23-year-old left-hander they had acquired only months earlier for a 26-year-old right-hander in Ely, who gives them Major League experience. Ely, who is 4-13 with a 5.70 ERA over three seasons with the Dodgers, is expected to compete for a spot in Houston’s rotation, though he could begin the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Date: Feb. 4, 2013.
The skinny: The Astros shipped Lowrie, who was set to make $2.4 million this year, to the A’s along with Rodriguez and go three young players. The trade was text book for a rebuilding club — trade an established player with a rising salary for youth. Peacock will compete for a rotation spot, and Carter is expected to be a fixture in the lineup. He’s a right-handed hitter with plenty of power. Stassi becomes one of the Astros top catching prospects in a position where there was a definite need in the Minor Leagues.
Go west young man? Not so fast, Brad Peacock.
Peacock, one of three players the Astros acquired in a five-player trade on Monday, was in the middle of a cross-country drive from his home in West Palm Beach, Fla., to Oakland’s Spring Training facility in Phoenix when he was forced to do a 180-degree turn somewhere in Mississippi.
While he was driving, the right-handed pitcher took a phone call that informed him he had been traded to the Astros, whose spring camp is in Kissimmee, Fla.
“I got a call and had to turn around,” he told MLB.com. “I’m excited.”
Peacock’s goal Monday night was to spend the night in Orlando with some family members and head to Kissimmee – on Orlando’s southern fringes – in the morning. He’s going to a new team with a fresh start — a change of direction, if you will.
Going to a young team that’s full of opportunity had Peacock the most excited as he made his way back through Tallahassee on Monday night.
“Oh definitely, for sure, man,” he said. “I hope I can bounce back from last year and prove myself to somebody. I had kind of rough one last year. I’ve been working hard this off-season and hopefully it all pays off.”
Peacock will compete for a spot in the starting rotation with the Astros this spring. He was 12-9 with a 6.01 ERA in 28 appearances, including 25 starts, last year at Triple-A Sacramento with 139 strikeouts in 134 2/3 innings. He pitched in three games for the Nationals in 2011, going 2-0, before he was deal to the A’s as part of the multiplayer deal that sent left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez to Washington.
Jed Lowrie spent the previous couple of days in Oakland, taking a physical that was the final piece to the puzzle in a trade that eventually sent him to the A’s. When the trade was finalized on Monday afternoon, Lowrie had gone from a rebuilding team to the defending American League West division champs.
“At the end of the day, the game is all about winning,” Lowrie told MLB.com. “I got a great opportunity in Houston, and I really enjoyed my short time there. I’m looking forward to the next step in my career.”
The Astros traded Lowrie and right-handed pitcher Fernando Rodriguez to the A’s in exchange for first baseman Chris Carter, right-hander Brad Peacock and Minor League catcher Max Stassi. It’s yet another trade by Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow to bolster a farm system now considered among the best in the game.
Lowrie, who turns 29 on April 17, played 93 games at shortstop for Houston last season, spending time on the disabled list for a sprained right thumb and sprained right ankle. He hit .244 with 16 home runs and 42 RBIs, while his .980 fielding percentage led National League shortstops with at least 70 games.
“I figured, given where I was in my career and the point where the Astros are as an organization, I figured when Jeff got what he was looking for he could continue to build the Minor League system and try to turn over the organization,” Lowrie said. “I figured at some point it was in the cards. The timing of it, I wasn’t sure of. Going into a week before Spring Training starts for me and the position guys, I was expected to start the year with the Astros, but that’s not the case. I’ll be out in Phoenix with the A’s.”