The rebuilding process was miserable for the Astros and their fans the past few seasons, but Houston proved on Thursday that they are willing to win this year by acquiring veteran starting pitcher Scott Kazmir from the Athletics in exchange for pitcher Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham. The Astros are currently only 1 game back of 1st place in the AL West with a record of 54-43, but the problem is that the Angels aren’t going away very easily. Kazmir provides Houston with playoff experience and he’ll be a front-end starter in their rotation. The Astros have an abundance of young position players that are carrying the team right now, but besides Dallas Keuchel there hasn’t been another very reliable starter in the Astros starting rotation. Kazmir might only be a rental player because he is an unrestricted free agent after the season, but Houston has been rebuilding for too long and it’s about time for the Astros to make a push for the playoffs right now. Meanwhile, Oakland is 44-53 without basically any chance to make the postseason, so it makes sense for them to get rid of Kazmir before they lose him in free agency and get nothing for him. The Athletics have terrific pitching, but they lack defense and they don’t have many consistent offensive players so it is hard to picture them even making it back to the .500 mark this season. Oakland is always looking to get young starting pitching and even though it might take some time for Daniel Mengden to get to the majors he could be a big part of the Athletics rotation down the road. Also, getting a 20-year old catcher like Nottingham is valuable since it is hard to find consistent offensive production at the catcher position. Oakland needs some help at catcher and in a few years Nottingham could be a very productive major league player. I really like this deal for both teams because the Astros need Kazmir right now and the Athletics needed to replenish their farm system with some solid prospects.
Astros grade: B+ – Kazmir is a terrific option short-term for the Astros, but he is just a rental player basically for the team.
Athletics grade: A – The Athletics are looking forward for next season and beyond, so getting some prospects with high upside like with Mengden and Nottingham should be worth it in a few years.