Houston was as active as any team before the July 31 Major League Baseball trade deadline, but it didn't immediately impact the Oklahoma City RedHawks' roster.
A few days after trading closer Jose Veras to Detroit, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow on Wednesday made two deadline deals, sending starting pitcher Bud Norris to Baltimore and outfielder Justin Maxwell to Kansas City.
The trades reinforce Luhnow's plan to rebuild the Astros through trades and the draft.
By trading their three highest paid players, the Astros' payroll drops below $13 million. Veteran pitcher Erik Bedard, earning $1.15 million, is Houston's highest paid player.
“Days like today are exciting,” Luhnow told the Houston media. “Trades like these are important for any baseball organization, especially the Houston Astros.”
Following Wednesday's trades, the Astros have an open spot on their 25-man roster, but Luhnow said RedHawks star center fielder George Springer will remain in Oklahoma City.
It's uncertain who will fill Norris' spot. Houston's rotation currently includes Bedard and three pitchers who started the season in Oklahoma City (Jordan Lyles, Dallas Keuchel and Jarred Cosart). Two other former RedHawks, Lucas Harrell and Brett Oberholtzer, started Tuesday and Wednesday.
Two current RedHawks — 23-year-old right-hander Asher Wojciechowski (6-4, 2.83 ERA) and 24-year-old right-hander Brad Peacock (6-2, 2.73) — could be candidates but are top prospects that might stay in OKC until September roster expansion.
It's the second straight year Luhnow has made key July deals. A year ago, Luhnow acquired several players, including Matt Dominquez, now Houston's starting third baseman, Wojciechowski and outfielder Robbie Grossman, who hit his first major league homer Wednesday night.
In the Norris trade, Luhnow landed two of the Orioles top 10 prospects: outfielder L.J. Hoes and 19-year-old left-hander Josh Hader. Hoes switched dugouts at Camden Yards and was in the Astros starting lineup. Hader is in Class A. In the deal with Kansas City, the Astros acquired a Class A pitcher.
Baseball executives agree Luhnow and the Astros are headed in the right direction.
“The Astros future is bright, but there will be growing pains,” said RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco. “If people think a kid with 100 major league at bats is going to impact the game every night it's not going to happen. It takes years of getting at bats, guys getting comfortable.”