On Thursday, the Astros made another trade, this time acquiring LHP Travis Blackley from the Oakland A's in exchange for minor league outfielder Jake Goebbert. Goebbert is still young, but is only considered a future bench player by many. Perhaps he'll benefit from a change of scenery. Blackley is coming off his best year in the major leagues. He's not a prospect, but he does have an interesting story. He was once rated as a #63 prospect for the Mariners back in 2003, but his overconfidence and lack of maturity held him back when he was called up to the major leagues in 2004. He was out for all of 2005 with an arm injury, but when he came back in 2006, he pitched in the minors for the whole season. After that, he bounced around several organizations, including a trip to South Korea, and when he came back to the majors in 2012, he had a career year. But after having a poor 2013 spring training, he now heads to the Astros in a trade.
Blackley was designated for assignment last week and became available to the Astros, who had him high up on a list of players in whom they were interested. Blackley, 30, will come to the Astros and try to build upon the good year he had last year when he pitched 102.7 innings as both a starter and reliever for the A's, with a 3.77 ERA (4.04 FIP) . For the Astros, the plan is for him to come into games as a left-handed long reliever complementary to right-handed counterpart Edgar Gonzalez. But don't be surprised if Blackley is the first pitcher moved into the rotation in case something happens. He's fairly versatile.
He throws the four standard pitches (fastball, curve, slider, changeup). His fastball averaged 90.4 mph last year according to pitchFx and touched 94. His curve is a big and loopy 76-mph pitch that can be seen in some of his highlight videos here as being a good strikeout pitch. He had a bad spring, giving up 27 hits in 12.2 innings, but hopefully he can get up to speed as he arrives to meet the team tomorrow.
A 25-man and 40-man roster move will have to be made before tomorrow's game as both rosters are full. I predict the Astros will option Rhiner Cruz to the minors and designate Dallas Keuchel for assignment. Keuchel will likely pass through waivers due to his limited upside, and if he is claimed he would not be a significant loss.
Official Press Release
ASTROS ACQUIRE LHP TRAVIS BLACKLEY FROM ATHLETICS
Triple A outfielder Jake Goebbert sent to Oakland
HOUSTON, TX - The Houston Astros have acquired left-handed pitcher Travis Blackley from Oakland in exchange for Triple A outfielder Jake Goebbert. Blackley will report to Houston in time for tomorrow's game, at which point the club will make a corresponding roster move. The announcement was made by Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow.
Blackley, 30, combined to post a 6-4 record and a 4.10 ERA (49ER/107.2IP) in 28 games, including 15 starts, with San Francisco (4g) and Oakland (28g) last season. Blackley was a major part in the A's run towards the playoffs last year, as Oakland won eight of his last 12 starts, including his win on Oct. 2 vs. TEX, in the second to last game of the regular season. A native of Australia, Blackley has appeared in 36 Major League games in his career while playing for Seattle (2004), San Francisco (2007, 2012) and Oakland (2013). He was designated for assignment by Oakland on March 29.
Goebbert, 25, combined to hit .291 (116x398) with 54 RBI in 130 games at Double A Corpus Christi (114g) and Triple A Oklahoma City (16g) last season, which was his fourth in the Astros organization. He was originally drafted by Houston as a 13th round selection in the June 2009 draft.