By Scott Barzilla

Jeff Luhnow has been a very busy man this week. Often, it is difficult to figure out what a general manager is trying to do, but nothing is unclear about what the Houston Astros are doing. They are paring down the payroll as much as they possibly can and bringing in as many prospects as they possibly can. When the dust settles on the two deals, the Astros will have added eight prospects to their system. Odds are they aren’t done.

Brett Myers was the Astros closer this year and had a 3.52 ERA with 19 saves. It is unclear what role the White Sox will use him in as the White Sox don’t have a clear cut closer. Matt Thornton has been used some in that role from the left hand side while Addison Reed has been used against right-handers. They could insert him into the closer’s role or they could use him as they have used the other relievers in their pen. Having just surrendered the division lead to the Detroit Tigers, it is obvious that Kenny Williams wants to bring in reinforcements. He is giving up three players (one will be named later), but neither of the two he gave up are big time prospects.

Matt Heidenreich and Blair Walters go to Houston in the deal. Additionally, it is reported that the Astros are giving some money the other way. No one knows how much, but Myers does get a 500,000 bonus if he is traded, so it would be logical for the Astros to kick that in. Heidenreich probably has the best chance to make an impact. He was picked in the fourth round in 2009 and has split time between advanced A and AA this season. He throws in the low to mid 90s. They are hoping he fills out more (he is 6’5″ and weights 185 pounds). He currently has a 3.95 ERA in 18 starts between the two levels.

Walters might end up making it as a lefty specialist. Luhnow has been stock-piling lefties since coming to Houston. He has acquired Kevin Chapman, Rob Rasmussen, and now Walters. Walters has a 3.95 ERA between low A and high A. He ranked 26th among White Sox prospects prior to season according to Baseball America. He has an excellent strikeout to walk ratio (8.6/2.0), but has struggled against right-handers.

The whole idea of a player to be named later can happen for any number of reasons. For one, players that were drafted in recent drafts cannot be traded until they have officially been in the organization for one year. Since the last deadline was August 15th, 2011, it is possible that both teams are simply waiting for a few weeks until that anniversary comes up. It’s also customary for the receiving to attach a condition depending on player or team performance. For instance, if the White Sox make the playoffs they could allow the Astros to choose from a better group of players.

Either way, it is possible that the player to be named later is actually a better player than the players involved in the original part of the deal. For instance, the Astros got Domingo Santana as the player to be named later in the Hunter Pence deal and he is arguably as valuable as Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton (the major players involved). That will ultimately be the final determining factor in the Blue Jays trade as well.

So, for the Astros, they have added three players in their top twenty prospect list (according to Jonathan Mayo from MLB.com) and still have two players coming in both trades. They’ve obviously added talent in quality and quantity. They are also setting themselves to have an open slate in the offseason in terms of payroll. The White Sox add a decent arm to their repotoire that will hopefully give them a shot in the arm.

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at hardballchat.com. He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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