The Houston Astros, who this time last year were churning through a 92-loss season, but have suddenly become a team to be reckoned with in 2015, just swung the first big trade of the season. They are acquiring starting pitcher Scott Kazmir from the A’s in exchange for prospects Daniel Mengden and Jacob Nottingham.
Mengden, a pitcher, was drafted in the fourth round in 2012, and Nottingham is a catching prospect who was taken in the sixth round in the 2013 draft. Both have played well in Single A this year, but neither are considered to be among the top tier of the Astros’ farm system.
So the big news here is Kazmir joining an Astros team that’s just two games back of the Angels for the AL West lead. Kazmir has been great in Oakland, his ERA+ sitting at 163 and his strikeouts-per-nine ratio at 8.3, and he’s precisely the kind of starter that the Astros needed in order to fortify a rotation that gets a little thin after Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers.
Kazmir is one of the many useful-to-good pitchers that is headed to free agency this offseason, so this could very well end up being just a rental. Even if it is, the Astros didn’t have to give up too much to get him. There may be even more moves coming, too: