On Monday, the Houston Astros announced they had reached a deal with the Oakland Athletics, sending shortstop Jed Lowrie and right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez to the A's in exchange for three players. First baseman Chris Carter, right-handed pitcher Brad Peacock and catcher Max Stassi. This deal was bandied about by Susan Slusser a couple of weeks ago, with the asking price for the pitcher (Peacock) deemed too much at the time.
Lowrie, 29, hit .244/.331/.438 in 368 plate appearances last season before suffering a freak leg injury when San Francisco's Gregor Blanco slid into him at second base. Oakland marks Lowrie's third team in as many seasons, after he was acquired as part of the Mark Melancon trade with Boston last winter.
Seems Oakland's demands have softened since then, as the deal is completed and the Astros get three more pieces for the rebuilding effort. Carter is the guy who could make the most impact immediately, and should essentially take Brett Wallace's at-bats in the near future. This is the third time Carter's been traded in his career, after traded straight up for Carlos Quentin and then being part of the Dan Haren deal with Oakland.
Carter, 26, is a career .214 hitter with an on-base percentage of .310 and a slugging percentage of .471. He's hit 19 career home runs in three season, but has amassed just 384 plate appearances as a pro. He hit 16 of those home runs last season in what was a breakout season for him, as he hit .239/.350/.514 in 67 games for Oakland.
Peacock, 25, made his major league debut in 2011 and is also in the "multi-trade club." The right-hander was part of the Gio Gonzalez deal with the Washington Nationals last winter. He pitched in 12 innings during his debut after being called up in September of 2011. That included two starts, four strikeouts and six walks. Last season in the minors, Peacock had a 6.01 ERA in 132 innings for Oakland's Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento. He posted a strikeout rate of 9.29 and a walk rate of 4.41 with an FIP of 4.26.
Stassi, 21, played in 84 games last season for Oakland's High-A affiliate in Stockton. He repeated the California League last year, hitting .268/.331/.468 with 15 home runs. He appears to be part of the Astros strategy to keep adding catchers and hope some of them pop soon.
As I said before, Carter's addition could make things hard on Brett Wallace to keep his job. If nothing else, the Wallace/Carter/Pena/Freiman group should make for some interesting competition in spring and assure that the Astros don't have to rush Jonathan Singleton until he's ready.
What do you think? I'm sad to see Lowrie go, but excited about both the potential of Carter in the lineup for years to come and for what Peacock can provide for the rotation immediately. He jumps up the short list of rotation candidates in my mind over Humber and even Alex White. Carter, too, seems like a great fit at DH once Pena's one year contract is over and Singleton is ready for first base.