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Starting Nine: Astros trade for Scott Kazmir

TCB reacts to the Scott Kazmir trade.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Today the Astros trade for Houston-native Scott Kazmir. As part of the deal, Houston sent propsects right-handed pitcher Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham. Of course, we turned on the red alert alarm at TCB and our writers voiced the their opinions:

Timmy Kennedy

Maybe it's because I'm not overly prospect-savvy, but on the face of it, I love the deal. Seemingly, anyway, losing Nottingham was bad; but looking at the bigger picture: the Astros now have innings to cover for Velasquez and McCullers. They now have a pretty strong rotation. They've increased their chances of reaching the playoffs. The farm is still the strongest in baseball, surely, with a lot of talent ready for the big leagues in near future.

Anthony Boyer

It's a really tough pill to swallow. I like Nottingham and Mengden quite a bit -- in fact, they were very near my list of folks I absolutely didn't want to see given up in trades. That said, they're both pretty far from the majors (shall we discuss how this affects Lancaster's playoff run?) :)

When you can give up two good High-A prospects for one good major leaguer, it's a good trade. It's a good trade for Oakland, and it's a good trade for Houston. It stings, like a good trade should, but not a lot.


This move made the most sense to me, all along. My only concern is with Kazmir's health, he's had a couple of minor shoulder issues this year, but nothing major. You have to give something up to get something. This will help minimize the innings on McCullers and VV. If we can make the playoffs, Kazmir is the #2 starter. All good from my perspective!


I was high on both of the prospects we gave up, especially Nottingham. (There is just something about catchers that can hit...) That being said, it was in my opinion a reasonable price to pay for a "rental" in comparison to the other pitchers we could have gone after (Cueto, Price). I think the conventional wisdom is that Kazmir will re-sign after this season, which provides more potential value to the trade than the others mentioned.

So in the end we gave up two promising players at A ball (which our farm system could afford to do), and now have a rotation of Keuchel, McCullers, Kazmir, McHugh and VV/Feldman/Obie. It needed to be done, and Luhnow did it in probably the least painful way possible. Not that it doesn't hurt to lose prospects you like.

Anthony Boyer



I haven't been following Astros prospects for long, so I wasn't expecting a trade that hit me like a gut punch. Mengden and Nottingham were two guys I'm really high on, so it stings a little bit. That probably means it's a fair trade: Astros get a major league guy who helps them immediately, Oakland gets two prospects with high ceilings but a long way off.

Houston wins the short term in this trade. If the Astros do not re-sign Kazmir, I think Oakland comes out ahead down the line.

Zane Ellis

The Astros, numbers wise, absolutely got a steal especially if they can keep Kazmir around for more than a year. Mengden could've been a nice piece in a couple of years but is expendable. The Astros also still have plenty of pieces to go get a bat. Will they? Who knows but if they want to go for a run this year and it looks like they do - they'll get a bat.


If we re-sign Kazmir in the offseason I'll be happy with this trade. I hate losing Mengden and Nottingham, but neither are sure fire major leaguers. I think this is a good addition and Luhnow didn't overpay in my opinion. Time to add a bat.

Terri Schlather

I like this trade a lot for 2 reasons:
2) Scott Kazmir is a solid pitching rental who, when healthy, puts up impressive numbers. He's reliable and that what this team needs. And for that, the Astros gave up some talent, but talent that doesn't drastically hurt the deep pool of talent in the minors. Giving up the team's 19th and 22nd ranked prospects is a reasonable give for a major league talent in a year where the Astros have a shot to make a run for the biggest series in baseball.

I know I said two reasons, but I"m entitled to change my mind, so there's a third:
3) Kazmir's a hometown boy AND an example of someone who struggled, stepped back, worked hard and persevered. I like the message that sends to a young clubhouse.


Both teams benefit but I have to think we got the better end of this. Our system is very deep and can easily absorb these losses, even though they certainly hurt. We get the deal done with a full week to spare which is a nice little addition. We've got a great one-two punch at the top of the rotation, which goes from a weakness to a strength just in time for the upcoming Angels series.

Brian Stevenson

I like him, but let's be honest here; Kazmir is a #3 starter. This is not an ace. He's way out-performing his xFIP this year. He's a 3.50 ERA guy, and that's assuming he's healthy.

Mengden I can stomach losing, even though I like him. But Nottingham is a punch in the gut, big time. I might have rather lost Phillips. A catcher as athletic as him with that kind of upside...this hurts. This hurts badly. Nottingham was probably the best catching prospect we've had since Biggio.

Frankly, I'm shocked that a rental, and not one of the elite ones like Price or Cueto, cost this much. Shocked. Even if they have an extension in place, this is hugely risky. Kazmir has a bad history with health. He hasn't pitched 200+ innings since 2007. An extension or a resigning is the only thing that keeps this from being a poor trade. Not even kidding. We just bought high, folks. I can't imagine other GMs looking to acquire pitching are too pleased with where we just set the bar.


This was a bad trade. Very happy to have Scott home, and Mengden was a good fit for this trade, but Nottingham is a once in a generation talent at catcher. A complete offensive package, strong arm, good work ethic and improving receiving skills. Three to five years from now, Astros fans will rue this trade. At least in '98, we didn't have to see the players we sent to the Mariners for Randy Johnson 17+ times a year.


Initially I was upset to be losing Nottingham and then to add Mengden on top of that just seemed like a lot for a rental. The more I think about it though, the more I like this trade. For starters neither Mengden nor Nottingham were going to contribute this year or probably next, so we were hoping they would continue to develop for a 2017 playoff run. So, while we gave up a couple of solid prospects it isn't something our system can't stomach.

Perhaps more importantly though, I love the timing of this trade! By being the first team to make a major move the Astros sent a clear message to fans and future free agents (Kazmir being one of them) that they are ready to compete. Not to mention the fact that Kazmir will be here in time for a rather important series against the Angels next week. All in all I think this trade is exactly what the Astros needed even if it did mean losing a couple of our beloved prospects.

David Coleman 

This is a very good trade for both Oakland and Houston. The Astros get a bona fide major league starting pitcher, who's been very effective, hasn't seen a drop in velocity and who has the luck dragons on his side in 2015. Who knows how long they'll drop their magic BABiP dust on him, but even if he does regress some ERA-wise, he's still striking out guys at a 23 percent clip. That's a top 30 rate in baseball this year among qualified starters. It's also not a fluke; he struck out 24 percent for Cleveland two years ago and 21 percent in his first pass through Oak-Town.

Look, we all love Jacob Nottingham and Daniel Mengden. We all saw them with so much potential. Fact is, we also rated one as the 9th-best prospect in the system and the other as the 13th-best. Mengden may have potential, but he wasn't rated over Musgrove or Appel. With the season he's having, former lottery ticket Francis Martes might've jumped him in the rankings by year's end.

The bigger issue, and likely the reason Luhnow was willing to part with both, is that they're two to three years away from making a big-league roster and maybe more than that from making a big-league impact. If Luhnow sees the Astros window opening now, he's going to pounce, not wait four more years to see these players bear fruit.

I'll only disagree with Brian slightly. I think the Astros set a pretty reasonable price for the rest of the market with this deal. Neither guy was a top 100 prospect. The Astros got a top-of-their-rotation starter for just two mid-level prospects with upside. The rest of the sellers are cringing at this because it could be too low.

Alex Goodwin

Jacob Nottingham is our third-best hitting prospect (between Reed and Kemp). Losing him sucks because he could have been the catcher of the future. But you know what? We were trading with Billy Beane. That's never going to be an easy trade to stomach. If Jeff Luhnow is confident in this trade, that means either he knows something we don't (extension for Kazmir?) or means that he feels this is the best deal we could get for a #2/#3-type starter. Once we get to the playoffs, anything can happen, and this probably made sure we'll get a spot in them with a really good rotation of Keuchel, Kazmir, McCullers, and McHugh, with VV and maybe Appel or Feliz in the bullpen. If Nottingham becomes the next Buster Posey, that's a nod to Billy Beane, not a knock on Jeff Luhnow. It's bittersweet, but I think the trade was necessary and wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Brian Stevenson

I'm hearing a lot of "they may still bust" and "they're years away!"

The same could be said of most prospects. All prospects, really. So why not Phillips? Why not...anyone?

Nottingham is a rare talent. We didn't rank him higher internally because he hasn't shown it above A-ball and because this is a breakout season. We're cautious, and rightfully so. But that doesn't diminish his talent. I wouldn't be shocked in the least if Nottingham ends up as the better player compared to Phillips. You just don't find catchers with athleticism and power like he has. I'm not sure why we all agreed that Nottingham was a stud yesterday, but now that we've traded him for two months of a #3 starter with a huge injury history, we're all totally fine with him being gone.


I'm standing by my initial reaction. This is a trade we regret five years from now. Don't think it'll bring home a WS this year. And we gave up an elite prospect - by my humble estimation - at one of the most premium positions to get it done. Just don't think this is a good trade.

David Coleman

I'll leave this here, too.

I still think we're overrating our own guys, especially now that they're gone. I know Anthony really liked Nottingham, that he was a big get for us in that draft and that he was playing well this year. But, a generational talent at catcher? Do you think, if the Astros believed that, they would have included him in this trade? Do you trust the Astros player evaluation system? I feel like it's pretty solid.

I'm not trying to discredit either guy. I'm bummed we had to give them up. But, we got a premium arm on this market without giving up any of the top eight in our system and none of the guys who will be on the top 100 list at the end of the year. That's a coup.

In the end, I feel like Anthony did. It sucks that these guys are gone, but trades are supposed to hurt. Both sides need value. I think this trade accomplished that.