A day after dealing Brandon Lyon and JA Happ to the Blue Jays for a gang of prospects (and a pair of Franciscos, Ben and Cordero), the Houston Astros continued on in sell mode today, trading former starter and current closer Brett Myers to the White Sox. The news was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Myers is making $12 million this year in the final season of a two year, $23 million extension signed in August of 2010. Myers also has a club option for $10 million for 2013, with a buyout of $3 million. This season, the Houston closer has saved 19 games while pitching to a 3.52 ERA and having a full season career low strikeout rate of 5.87.
The Astros moved Myers to the closer's role before this season to solidfy a bullpen that was awful last year, and had lost closer Mark Melancon in a trade with the Red Sox (that worked out spectacularly for Houston). Myers has responded with a terrible year, while the Astros young rotation has produced…well, I guess they could be a lot worse. With the trade, Houston could slot the newly-acquired Francisco Cordero into the closer's role, or they could look to move the veteran to a contender, just like they did with Myers and Lyon. If Cordero isn't handed the closer's role and is indeed dealt, many expect 29 year-old Wilton Lopez to get a chance at closing. Lopez has a 2.29 ERA in 35 1/3 innings this year, striking out 28 while walking only four.
Myers will slot into a White Sox bullpen that has been a middle of the road crew this year. Addison Reed and Matt Thornton have both been very good, while Nate Jones and Jesse Crain (just activated from the DL today) have been pretty good as well.
I don't think Myers represents a massive upgrade for the White Sox, but at the very least, he's a veteran who throws hard and has good control. It's still unknown what players are going back to Houston in the deal, and the quality and quantity will likely depend on how much of Myers' contract is being picked up by the Sox. I can't conceive a huge return for the Astros either way though, especially with the relatively weak state of Chicago's farm system.
UPDATE: Houston Chronicle columnist Zachary Levine is reporting that the players going to Houston are Matt Heidenreich, Blair Walters, and a player to be named later. Heidenreich was a fourth round pick in 2009 by the White Sox, and the 21 year-old has a 3.95 ERA split between high-A Winston-Salem and AA Birmingham, striking out 71 while walking only 18 in 111 2/3 innings. *That* is some phenomenal control. Walters came into the year as Chicago's #26 prospect, and has a 3.96 ERA split between low-A Kannapolis and high-A Winston-Salem. He's struck out 93 and walked just 22 in 97 2/3 innings, and the 22 year-old was an 11th round pick in the 2011 draft.
UPDATE TWO: Jon Heyman of CBS is reporting that Chicago is only responsible for $1 million of the $5.5 million (or somwhere thereabouts) left on Myers' contract this year. They also are getting money to cover either Myers' salary for next year, or his buyout. Good bargain for the White Sox, and a smart move by the Astros, who ate most of the salary (just like in the Carlos Lee trade) to get a better return.
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