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How the Houston Astros became a winner at the trade deadline

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Because they listened to me, first and foremostly.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

So, last week, I wrote an article hypothesising the Houston Astros as sellers at the trade deadline, in spite of their lofty playoff expectations. I suggested that the Astros should trade away Scott Feldman, and a reliever for some prospects -- as a result of just how harsh a market it was for buyers -- and summon James Hoyt and Joe Musgrove to the major leagues. And, it appears Jeff Luhnow loves the Crawfish Boxes as the Astros, essentially, did exactly that.

I wrote that entire introduction as a huge, 'I told you so'.

Now, with hindsight, we can look (and laugh) at the teams who went all in. And, furthermore, review just how genius the Astros were. In the end, Feldman got traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, receiving minor league arm, Lupe Chavez, in return, and, Josh Fields got traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Yordan Alvarez, a young first baseman. The Astros gave away surplus pieces, and received two prospects with big upside.

Minor League Ball had this to say about Alvarez:

Yordan Alvarez, 1B: Alvarez is from Cuba; the Dodgers signed him as a free agent this past spring, giving him a $2,000,000 bonus (plus an extra $2,000,000 for exceeding their international signing bonus pool budget). Alvarez has yet to play an official game in Organized Baseball so the Astros are buying the scouting reports.

Said scouting reports indicate an interesting bat. Alvarez is a left-handed hitter, born January 1st, 1997. He was listed at 6-4, 180 a few years ago but his most recent data shows him at 6-5, 220. He's quite strong but apparently has yet to fully tap his power in live games. He's said to have good strike zone judgment, but his range and arm strength limit him to first base.

And, Astros Future had this to say about Chavez:

Chavez is an 18 year old right handed pitcher who was pitching with the Blue Jays Gulf Coast League affiliate (rookie). Chavez was signed by the Blue Jays in 2014 out of Mexico. Chavez was an outfielder who converted to pitcher and turned into one of the better pitching prospects in Mexico. A scout told me that he has a projectable build with a good fastball/changeup combination with the changeup already flashing as above average.

He also has a curveball which is still developing. His fastball velocity sits low 90s touching 92/93. This season he is 4-1 with a 1.69 ERA 32 IP, 29 H, 4 BB/26 K for GCL Blue Jays. As we have seen in the past with Martes and Paulino, the Astros do a great job scouting guys in the GCL.

Looking at the prospects alone makes me think the Astros have done a good job with their trades. The Dodgers, essentially, paid $4 million for Alvarez, which, surely, indicates the value they placed in him. Concerning Chavez, his strikeout to walk ratio on the year is very quintessentially Houston, and, as Astros Future noted, he was pitching in the GCL, where the Astros also scouted Martes, and Paulino. But, let's look at the teams who went all in.

The Texas Rangers were widely regarded as the winners of the trade deadline, adding Jonathan Lucroy, Jeremy Jeffress and Carlos Beltran to the fold. They surrendered several top-tier prospects, including Lewis Brinson. And, for what? According to Steamer projections, they are only set to improve by 1.6 Wins Above Replacement. They gave away quite a lot, for the sake of one and a half wins. They were the winners of the deadline.

The next most improved team were the Los Angeles Dodgers. They surrendered Alvarez to us, of course, as well as three quality young pitchers. In turn, they improved by 1.5 wins, according to Steamer. One game can make all the difference in the grand scheme of a baseball season, but a little bit of luck for another team, and it's instantly rendered ineffective. A lot lost, not a huge amount gained.

The Boston Red Sox came in third place, adding 1.3 wins as a result of the deadline. The Cleveland Indians are likely to improve by 1.1 wins, with the Toronto Blue Jays improving by 0.8 wins. Finally, to round off the top five, both the San Francisco Giants, and the Chicago Cubs have added an additional 0.7 wins, again as according to Steamer projections. Consider just how much the Giants surrendered, for, well, not even a win.

Of course, it must be said that the Giants added players who weren't just rentals. But, even in the long term, having surrendered so many talented young players, and major leaguers (namely Matt Duffy, one year removed from finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting), I'm not convinced they even improved in the long term, either. Now, back onto the Astros.

In losing both Feldman, and Fields, the Astros, going by Steamer projections, traded away 0.1 wins for the remainder of the season. In calling up Joe Musgrove, and James Hoyt, the Astros added 0.6 wins. Overall, the Astros improved by 0.5 wins, finishing up just behind the Giants, and the Cubs. And, we were sellers. We added prospects, as opposed to throwing them away. To reiterate: we added prospects, and wins.

Of course, Steamer projections are not completely accurate. They do, however, paint the general picture that acquiring players at the trade deadline for two months worth of play won't improve your team vast amounts. It also supports the idea that I put forward in my last article: in a short sample size, both Musgrove and Hoyt can probably help the Astros just as much as, say, Will Smith, and Matt Moore would have. By being savvy in a sellers market, the Astros got better on the field, and improved their farm.

The Houston Astros were a huge winner at the trade deadline by not even getting involved in the crazy buyer's market. They, once more, showed they're an incredibly savvy team by selling off spare parts, and, of course, by listening to me, and my suggestions. Now, all we need is Musgrove to live up to his lofty Steamer projections.