The Astros went for it. Huge trade. Huge price. In the end, it's that simple. And to think that president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow was once criticized for being too conservative in deal-making and too protective of his own young players.
Moments before Wednesday afternoon's Trade Deadline, Luhnow put a proper finishing touch on things by adding six-time All-Star Zack Greinke to a team already projected to win 102 games.
Luhnow surrendered a bounty of prospects, doing the very thing he'd been reluctant to do in the past. But with Gerrit Cole headed for free agency after this season, Luhnow clearly saw this Deadline as an opportunity to not only beef up his rotation for October, but also fortify the group for next year, when Cole might be pitching elsewhere.
So this is where the Astros are: Their top three postseason starters will be Justin Verlander, Greinke and Cole, who are ranked first, fifth and second in WHIP in MLB. Lefty Wade Miley likely will be the No. 4 starter, while Sanchez could move to the bullpen in the postseason to make a solid bullpen even better.
That's two blockbuster summer deals in three seasons for Luhnow. His 2017 trade for Verlander sparked the Astros to their first championship. He made that one Aug. 31, a second deadline that no longer exists.
On the one and only Trade Deadline day of 2019, one that was filled with a series of interesting, smaller moves, Luhnow grabbed the biggest headline announced 20 minutes after the 4 p.m. ET deadline.
While the Astros won Trade Deadline day, they weren't the only team to get better. Here are Wednesday's seven winners:
Even with his team 30 games above .500 and entering Wednesday with an eight-game lead the AL West, there were worries about the back of the rotation and some recent stumbles by relievers Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna. When Luhnow was done, he probably could not have put his team in a better position.
We'd all but declared Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos the big winner on Wednesday before the Greinke deal was announced. Make no mistake: the Braves had a great 24 hours in adding a an excellent late-innings tandem in Martin and Greene as well as Melancon, who had an excellent July. After a month in which Atlanta relievers posted a 5.79 ERA, Anthopoulos has built what appears to be a solid postseason team.
Who they got: RHP Marcus Stroman
Just as significant is who the Mets did not trade: RHPs Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler. Suddenly, this Mets season has gotten interesting with a rotation that ranks among the best in baseball. By adding Stroman to the mix, the Mets apparently believe they could still make a postseason run in 2019. Hats off to them.
Contenders don't trade away their No. 1 starter and get better. That's close to gospel for baseball executives. Only in this case, the Indians may have. While they will miss Trevor Bauer, who'd been their No. 1 with Corey Kluber on the IL, the Indians were dealing from a position of strength and were able to add an instant contributor in Puig and a slew of prospects.
The Nationals already had a quality closer in lefty Sean Doolittle, but getting the game from the starter into his hands has led to a season of late-inning meltdowns and a 5.97 bullpen ERA, worst in baseball. Manager Davey Martinez suddenly has an assortment of better options.
The Rays checked two important boxes by getting a right-handed hitter in Aguilar and bullpen help in Anderson and Richards. Anderson is especially intriguing because he's the type of high-velocity reliever the Rays were seeking. It'll be interesting to see how they adjust his fastball/curveball usage.
The A's have had so much success in improving pitching performances the last two seasons that it'll be interesting to see what happens with Diekman and Roark, who were acquired on Deadline day. These are the kind of under-the-radar moves that got the A's to the postseason in 2018.