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The Astros stun at the trade deadline and acquire Zack Greinke

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MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Yankees Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of strange stuff has happened this trade deadline, and we’ve finally become acquainted with the odd contours of a deadline that looks like July, but also a lot like the August waiver wire deadline. Salary was shuffled around, minor pieces were acquired, and ZACK GREINKE WAS LITERALLY ACQUIRED BY THE ASTROS AT THE BUZZER.

This happened, if you remember, at the waiver deadline in 2017 when the Astros got Justin Verlander at the very last second, taking on the last chunk of a larger-than-normal-for-market-size contract. The same can be said for Greinke, who still has two years left on his six-year, $206.5 million deal.

Greinke is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, let’s be real. After putting up some of the greatest modern seasons in Los Angeles, sporting a 2.30 ERA over 602 23 innings, he really hasn’t been that much worse in Arizona, putting up a 131 ERA+ over his last 113 starts.

Not only that, but he’s going to the Astros, the same team that took a sagging Verlander and converted him into, once again, one of the best pitchers in the league. Greinke still uses his fastball about 40% of the time, and look at how many whiffs he gets from his other weapons:

Making Greinke a pitch-backwards guy could put him on a completely different level, and he is now the third-best pitcher on a staff that has Verlander and also-revamped Gerrit Cole. Yowzers, the AL should watch out. Kudos to Houston, who rebuilt and put the town through a depressing rebuild, and then won a Championship, and continued to add payroll and put the pedal on the gas to make the most of their core.

The Diamondbacks were in a very different position, sitting at 11% playoff odds but with a smarter front office, and a keen understanding that they needed to retool. This clears salary off the books, and it adds a significant haul to their prospect list:

Seth Beer, for example, is a possible plus-first baseman with stunning power, and he put up 15 home runs at Double-A this year so far. JB Bukauskas is the Astros’ best pitching prospect not named Forrest Whitley, and he was a 2017 first-rounder. Corbin Martin was a second-rounder from that same class, and he’s just slightly below the talent level of Bukauskas, which is saying a lot, in fact. Josh Rojas is a flyer, but he’s performed well (.987 OPS) in Triple-A so there’s a chance they get a major league contributor soon.

Overall this is the second blockbuster deal Greinke has been involved in, the first being his departure from Kansas City that sent Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress, and Jake Odorizzi to the Royals, essentially helping jettison the team to a future World Series through that transaction tree. I expect this tree to be just as entertaining, and just as fruitful for the Diamondbacks.