The first major trades of the baseball season happened on Thursday, as the Oakland A’s traded pitcher Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros for prospect catcher Jacob Nottingham and pitcher Daniel Mengden, and the Pittsburgh Pirates reacquired third baseman Aramis Ramirez for prospect pitcher Yhonathan Barrios and cash considerations. Here are the SportsZone Trade Grades for all four teams:


One of the biggest surprises of the season, the Houston Astros are actually in a playoff race, as they are currently one game behind the division leading Angels, in addition to being the leaders for the first Wild Card spot. General manager Jeff Luhnow did a great job in adding an innings eater like Kazmir, who will slot in behind ace Dallas Kuechel, for relatively little, as both prospects are nowhere close to major league ready, and neither were among the top prospects Luhnow has added over the last few years. With Kuechel and Kazmir leading a rotation that also includes youngsters Lance McCullers Jr. and Vincent Velasquez, along with the surprising Collin McHugh and veteran Scott Feldman, in addition to the homegrown lineup led by Jose Altuve and rookie Carlos Correa, the Astros are for real this season, and they might not be done adding before the trade deadline.


This time last year, general manager Billy Beane was dismantling his farm system to add pitching in the hopes of a long post season run. That failed, and this year Beane is firmly in ‘sell’ mode with the second-worst record in the American League. He was able to get good value for the impending free agent Kazmir, as while both prospects were down on the totem pole for the Astros, Nottingham immediately becomes the A’s fifth highest rated prospect (according to, while Mengden (who wins the grand no-prize for his Rollie Fingers-esque mustache) is now Oakland’s 13th best prospect. ESPN’s Keith Law believes Nottingham could be a future All Star, while Mengden should become a solid back-end starter, which is a solid start to Beane’s latest rebuild, though both should not be expected to hit the majors for at least two years.


The leaders for the National League Wild Card, the Pirates reunite with Ramirez, who started his career with Pittsburgh, in what should be the final months of his career. The Pirates have lost both Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer to injuries over the last two weeks, and Aramis allows the Pirates to keep Jung Ho Kang at short stop to fill the voids. They agree to pay $3 million of the $5.74 million left on his contract, and while Ramirez started off slowly this season, he has 10 home runs and a .270 batting average over his last 245 at bats, including a monster month of July thus far. Solid move for the Pirates as they look to return to the playoffs.


The rebuilding Brewers have been rumored to be in fire sale mode since the season started, and Ramirez becomes the first player traded towards that effort. They get a project in Barrios, a converted infielder who is still learning how to pitch, with a good fastball and an effortless delivery evaluators like. He’s a lottery ticket who is currently in Double-A, but given that Ramirez is set to retire after the season, it’s a solid return for the aging veteran.

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