The 2021 Trade Deadline turned out to be one of the most exciting Trade Deadlines to the history of the game. Deals were flying around the news feed and there were blockbusters aplenty. The Houston Astros were not a part of any blockbusters at the Trade Deadline, but they definitely addressed their most important need: the bullpen. The Astros made a few trades, all for relievers, and made themselves a more complete team. Here are the details of the trades, as well as the impact the trades will have on the team.
Astros Acquire Graveman, Montero
The first trade Houston completed was on Tuesday. The deal sent infielder Abraham Toro and reliever Joe Smith to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for right-handed relievers Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero. With Montero and Smith, the teams essentially just swapped struggling relievers, both have ERAs over seven. The deal really revolved around Graveman and Toro. Houston sacrificed some bench depth for a reliever who has been stellar. Graveman has been the closer for Seattle for much of the year, but with the Astros he will likely operate as a setup man. Houston doesn’t need him to be the closer, as Ryan Pressly has been one of the best in the AL. Prior to the trade, the 30 year old posted a 0.82 ERA in 33 innings with 34 strikeouts and eight walks.
Astros Acquire Garcia
Houston’s next trade came on Wednesday when they acquired right-handed reliever Yimi Garcia from the Miami Marlins. The Astros gave up minor league outfielder Bryan De La Cruz and right-hander Austin Pruitt in exchange for Garcia. Similar to Graveman, Garcia has been the Marlins closer for most of the season but will likely transition to a middle relief role for Houston. The 30 year old as a 3.47 ERA in 36 1/3 innings. He is striking out batters at a rate of 8.7 per nine innings.
Astros Acquire Maton, Diaz
The final trade Houston made came right before the deadline and it was a bit surprising. The Astros acquired right-hander Phil Maton and minor league catcher Yainer Diaz from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for outfielder Myles Straw. Straw had been the starting center fielder for the Astros all year, playing in 98 games. However, he is on his way out and Maton is coming in. Maton has a 4.57 ERA in 41 1/3 innings this year. He has struck out 61 batters in those innings. The ERA is a bit deceptive, as he has been extremely effective since mid-June, posting a 2.04 ERA in 17 2/3 innings since then.
Before being traded, Straw had a .262/.339/.326 slashline with 17 stolen bases. On the other side, Diaz is a 22 year old Single A catcher. He is hitting .314 in 2021 at the Single A level.
Impact of the Trades
Houston’s lineup is scoring over five runs a game this season, and the starting rotation has a 3.45 ERA. Their biggest need was definitely relief, which has a 4.14 ERA. What the Astros ended up doing at the Trade Deadline was sacrificing some bench depth to significantly improve the ‘pen. Alex Bregman should be coming off the injured list soon, which would move Aledmys Diaz back to the bench. This will help the bench, but at the moment it is a little weaker.
The trade of Straw was very surprising because he has been the starting center fielder all season. This could make Chas McCormick Houston’s starting center fielder, but he’s only played 13 games there this year. Jake Kaplan of The Athletic announced shortly after the move that the team is calling up center fielder Jake Meyers from Triple A. Meyers is slashing .343/.408/.598 with 16 home runs and ten stolen bases.
The loss of Toro and Straw could hurt the bench depth of the team for sure, but the four relievers Houston brought in will improve the bullpen significantly. Health will be paramount for the Astros position players the rest of the year, but these deals undoubtedly helped the bullpen in a big way.
Abraham Toro, Joe Smith, Kendall Graveman, Rafael Montero, Ryan Pressly, Yimi Garcia, Bryan De La Cruz, Austin Pruitt, Phil Maton, Yainer Diaz, Myles Straw, Alex Bregman, Aledmys Diaz, Chas McCormick, Jake Meyers