The D-backs were not looking to trade ace Zack Greinke prior to Wednesday’s Trade Deadline.
Then a day or so ago, the Astros presented them with an idea to acquire the right-hander and while no deal was struck then, the groundwork for one was laid.
That prep work allowed the two teams to pull off a megadeal with just minutes to go before the Deadline as Arizona sent Greinke to Houston for a haul of prospects: first baseman/outfielder Seth Beer (Astros' No. 3 prospect, per MLB Pipeline), right-hander J.B. Bukauskas (No. 4), righty Corbin Martin (No. 5) and infielder Joshua Rojas (No. 22).
It was one of a quartet of moves the D-backs pulled off on what turned into a very busy day.
“Much like we did with the Paul [Goldschmidt] trade, understanding that we were giving up what is certainly the best player in the deal, but knowing that in time we would recover some of that and spread it out in ways that will impact our 25-man roster more thoroughly than, say, one Zack Greinke,” general manager Mike Hazen said. “Trading out a No. 1 starting pitcher is not something we took lightly; it’s very difficult to replace that player. But I felt like we needed to take an opportunity to strengthen the organization, and ultimately the Major League team eventually, and I felt like this was going to do that.”
Not only does the deal help the D-backs continue to restock their farm system, but it also provides enormous salary relief.
Greinke, 35, is in the fourth season of a six-year, $206.5 million deal that he signed prior to 2016. He is owed $77 million on the deal, and the Astros are picking up $53 million of that.
No doubt the D-backs could have included less money in the deal had they agreed to accept lesser prospects back, but Hazen said ownership encouraged him to make the best deal and not worry about the money.
A rain delay shortened Greinke’s outing Wednesday against the Yankees after he gave up two runs in five innings. In 23 starts this year, Greinke is 10-4 with a 2.90 ERA.
D-backs manager Torey Lovullo was told after the game resumed that he needed to go back in the clubhouse and call Hazen, who informed him that he needed to get Greinke into his office right away so he could deliver the news.
The D-backs’ relief pitchers saw the Greinke trade talked about on TV in the bullpen.
“And they said it real quick -- like ‘Greinke, [Aaron] Sanchez, [Joe] Biagini.’ And I was like, ‘Hold up -- did they just say Greinke?’” said D-backs reliever Archie Bradley. “And they showed it up there who they had traded for and I was like, ‘Wow, well, there goes Zack.’”
Beer, 22, was with Double-A Corpus Christi, where he hit .299/.407/.543. The 22-year-old was the Astros’ first-round pick in the 2018 Draft.
Bukauskas, 22, was the Astros' first-round pick in the 2017 Draft. Coincidentally, he was initially drafted by the D-backs in the 20th round in 2014. In 20 games (14 starts) for Corpus Christi this year, the right-hander was 2-4 with a 5.25 ERA.
Bukauskas' best pitch is his slider, but his fastball sits in the mid-90s and can top out at 98 mph.
It will be a little while before D-backs fans get a look at Martin: The 23-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month and could miss the majority of 2020. The 2017 second-round Draft pick has a fastball that can touch 97 mph and sits at 92-95.
Rojas, 25, started the year in Corpus Christi before being promoted to Triple-A Round Rock, where he hit .310/.402/.586. He’s been versatile in his Minor League career, playing third base, shortstop, second base, first base, left field and right field.
Hazen said the team has liked each of the four players “for a long time, scouted for quite a bit, whether it’s from the Draft or their time in Houston.”