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Monday's Starting Nine: Assessing Houston's deal

Jarred Cosart and Enrique Hernandez are gone. Did the Astros receive enough in return?

Bob Levey

In the minutes leading up to this past Thursday's 4 p.m. trade deadline, it appeared the Astros were going to stand pat. But just before the bell, Houston came through with a trade sending starting pitcher Jarred Cosart and utility man Enrique Hernandez to Miami. In return, Houston received outfielder Jake Marisnick, third base prospect Colin Moran and Miami's competitive balance pick in the 2015 draft.

Cosart had his fair share of up and downs in roughly a year with Houston while Hernandez was quickly developing into a fan favorite with his surprising offensive production. Marisnick has started immediately with Houston while Moran has been sent to AA Corpus Christi. Let's see what the TCB staff thinks:

How would you grade the Astros trade deadline deal with the Miami Marlins?

Chris Perry

I have to grade the trade as an "incomplete". I think Cosart will never become more than he is now -- a decent back-of-rotation pitcher, and that personal favorite Kike Hernandez was hitting at his absolute peak during his debut with the Astros, and that Wates is destined to be a pinch-hitter. But just 'cause I think that doesn't mean that I'll be right, and that's what the Marlins hope. Marisnick is already a plus defender in center field, something that immediately helps the Astros, but betting that his bat will reach average or above-average is not a wager I'd feel comfortable making at this point. But the tools are there to dream on, and he's very young. Moran is a high-ceiling prospect, but there is a better-than-zero chance that he becomes "Wates at 3rd Base" -- an empty batting average. The compensation pick is exceptionally valuable, but the true value of that asset will not be known for five years.

Personally - I liked the trade. I don't think the Astros gave up anything with a future beyond what we've already seen, and they've received high-ceiling powerball tickets in return. My only strong prediction is that in five years, either the Marlins or the Astros will look like geniuses, but not both.

Brian Stevenson

I'll give them an A-. Overall, the deal was an excellent one, but it would have been nice to find a way to keep Kike Hernandez in the fold. Cosart, the main piece we lost, is a guy I've never had much confidence in, and I continue to view him similarly to Bud Norris; a guy who should be in the bullpen, but will likely be shoe-horned into the rotation for a while in the hopes he works out. I don't see him being better than a #4 starter though. In exchange, Moran is a legit 3.0 WAR candidate as an everyday regular 3B, and I'm not sure we've had someone like that in the system since Morgan Ensberg had a few good years, or maybe even as far back as Ken Caminiti. The draft pick is also huge, even though the media talks about it like it's just something tacked on. Martes truly interests me as well after reading reports from Baseball America speaking to his velocity and also his advanced control and change up for his age. Marisnick looks like he could be an average starting center fielder to me, even if his bat doesn't impress, with upside for a good bit more than that. I love the trade, and while I'm sure people were hoping the return would provide more immediate MLB impact than it did, Moran will be here around the same time as Appel probably, and this trade will look even better 11 months from now when the guy we take with the CoBal pick is impressing like Derek Fisher is right now.


I give the trade a B+. Of course, that's based on the information we have today, and it could turn out worse or better, because baseball is unpredictable. Based on pure value, alone, I think the Astros grade out well. The competitive balance draft pick and three high upside prospects-that's just a haul. Even though Moran has the upside, I view him as a high floor prospect, too. I also like a ML-ready prospect who can bring premium defensive value to centerfield, because those guys have a good chance to stick around the majors for awhile. I think the main risk of "regret" in the trade is that Cosart could become a top of the rotation pitcher. He has to overcome real control issues, but it's possible, though maybe not probable. Most hard throwers like Cosart have some chance of future injury derailing their careers. I hope it doesn't happen, but realistically the front office has to take a cold, hard look at the odds. And if a team is willing to overpay for Cosart, the deal can become too hard to pass up. Ultimately, you can't let fear of future regret, if a traded player becomes a star, paralyze your decision. Otherwise, you just wouldn't ever make trades, because that risk is inherent to most trading. Putting Hernandez in the trade is "selling high" on a small sample result, and as much as I like his makeup, I don't view losing him as a deal breaker.

Brooks Parker

I'll give the trade a B+. In all reality, all players traded away are replaceable. Cosart was performing like a back of the rotation starter. There's obvious value in that (why else would the Marlins be willing to trade for him) so that is not meant to be a knock against him. He may be a #3 down the road but that is still a type of pitcher in which the Astros have several prospects sprinkled throughout the minors with. That was the position of depth.

I love Kiké, but he is what he is. He's a high character utility player. I'd love to have him still, but he was able to be an assist in the return, so it's fine. He wasn't going to be an All-Star. He might be a regular one day, but that's his ceiling. His value was high.

Austin Wates is an outfield version of Kiké. Less versatility since Kiké can play the outfield as well, but still a good hitter for average with limited power. I like him, but he's not a regular.

The Astros gave up two reserves and BoR starter for a potential top 50 prospect, a lottery ticket with a 97 MPH fastball, a ML ready center fielder, and a compensation pick in which they can draft a player of the caliber of Derek Fisher from this year's draft.

What it comes down to is that Marisnick is a MUCH better defender and has a lot more power than Wates. He doesn't hit for as good as an average as Wates, but he's a better player overall. I'm not the highest on Moran, he was a top 10 player in last year's draft, but I'm not really high on him. He's capable of being an above-average regular at third base. This is a win for the Astros. The downside to me is that I was expecting a little bit better of a ML ready player than Marisnick.

Anthony Boyer

I'm going to give the trade a C+. As much as I like Colin Moran, the Astros don't have a deep pool of major league players. Giving up Hernandez and Cosart - two guys who have provided positive value at the major league level this season - for Moran, Marisnick, and a pick (even a good prospect like Colin Moran) feels like a lateral step at best.

Marisnick has a solid glove, Moran is very promising, and of course the additional pick makes Houston formidable in the draft. But as we should have learned over the past decade, three prospects do not always make a major league player. Cosart and Kike were major league players. We think someone like Kike is easy to replace with one of the current minor league pieces, but years of watching the Tyler Greenes and Angel Sanchezes of the world should have taught us something. We think the depth of SP options makes Cosart replaceable, but years of watching the Jordan Lyles and David Martinezes of the world should have taught us that even when it does work, it works slowly.

So it's half a step back with the hope of a big step forward later. I like the trade, but I'm skeptical of getting rid of young, controllable guys who have shown major league value.

Perry Mattern

I'll go with a B+ for Houston. The grade certainly is incomplete, but based on the information we know of the players involved, this is a good deal. I could easily be wrong, but Cosart and Hernandez do not have high ceilings. Cosart may already be hitting his head, while the track record for Hernandez as a minor league hitter is not encouraging. Plus, the Astros have options who are have a similar profile to Hernandez.

As for the return, Moran has not flashed power, but that could come along with what is already a solid hit tool. The clock is officially on for Matt Dominguez to become more than just a league average third baseman. As for Marisnick, my expectations are tempered for him due to his lack of MLB success (small sample size, of course), but at the very worst, Houston could have one of the best outfield defenses in baseball which is key at Minute Maid Park. But the real kicker, as it was with the Bud Norris trade last season, is that competitive balance pick. If executed correctly, Houston could put together all kinds of potential in exchange for an uninspiring pitcher and hitter.


In all, I would give this trade a "B". It's well known that I didn't care much for Jarred Cosart as a human, and I LOVED Kike as a human, ballplayer, and all around good guy. But, as i have noted in the past, I don't have to LIKE a guy (Roger Clemens), to root for him when he's on my team.

Luhnow said he was only going to trade from the major league roster to acquire a major league corner outfield bat. They acquired a bat, whether it's major league ready or not remains to be seen. But OH what they got in addition to Marisnick! Moran may not have been the final choice for 1-1 last year, but he was in the running. He's off to an OK start in his minor league career, with comparisons to DeShields when his makeup is discussed.....doesn't hustle, not totally invested, head down, etc. But what a nice bat to add. The rest sometimes is simply perspective on attitude, and doesn't always reflect the true nature of the player's makeup. We will see. THEN add another top 40 pick for next year? So, we will have the 1-2, somewhere around the 1-5, the first Comp Balance pick, and somewhere around 2-5? 4 picks in the top 50 or so? I suspect next year's draft will be the last time these types of opportunities will arise for many years.

I loved Kike, and hated to give him up, but you have to give something to get something. Cosart is easily replaceable (Hello Ober-the shoulder-boulder-holder), and I won't miss him for a nanosecond.

Bottom line? If Florida calls on the phone (Matt Dominguez for Carlos Lee?), make sure to answer that call.

Terri Schlather

I give this trade a B+. As the clock counted toward the deadline and we'd not heard a peep about a trade, I'd resided myself to the Astros holding tight. I was absolutely fine with that. As news broke and word trickled in on the pieces of the deal my heart soared and fell and soared again. When the full picture was laid about before us, the fans, how could we be anything but happy? I'm not a hater of Jarred Cosart. In fact, I think Cosart is likely to have a long MLB career as a middle of the rotation guy, but the club had depth in pitching and needed other things. What I loved most about this deal was the absolute unecessarity of it. Is unnecessarity a word? It should be and its definition should be this trade.

Luhnow and Co didn't NEED to unload anyone, and that paid off. I certainly am a fan of Kike Hernandez and was sad to hear the club would lose him, but when you look at the full haul - Marisnick, who can add to both offense (less so) and defense (more so) at the major league level, Moran, who the club was quite high on when he was drafted, AND the competitive balance pick? The Astros with another pick early in the draft is always a win. Yes, yes, yes, there were problems with the signing this year, but I'd still rather hand an extra pick to Jeff Luhnow and his team than almost anyone else in baseball right now. No one's as hungry for success.

I didn't give an A to this mainly because of my stance on prospects - they're always a gamble, but I'll tell you this much, I liked this trade a whole lot.