The deal includes Fernando Rodriguez also going to Oakland, and the Astros getting back Brad Peacock, Max Stassi, and Chris Carter, according to the MLB Twitter account.
This trade is just a continuation of the plan that General Manager Jeff Luhnow is putting in place in Houston. He is stripping down the MLB-roster and filling the organization with younger, cheaper players. This deal comes as no surprise to any that follow the Astros closely, and it may be fair to wonder if player such as Bud Norris may be next out the door.
For Oakland this move may appear to be an all-in move by them, but they did not surrender an alarming amount of young talent so it shouldn't be taken to strongly either way.
It is rare to see a move of this magnitude go down in February, but clearly Oakland wanted a shortstop and Lowrie was their man.
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Lowrie was playing very well for the Astros until injuring himself in July, but he was still considered to have a lot of trade value. He was acquired in the 2011 offseason along with pitcher Kyle Weiland in exchange for relief-pitcher Mark Melancon.
Oakland lost shortstop Stephen Drew to free agency, and traded Cliff Pennington to the Diamondbacks for Chris Young. They have been exploring all options at the shortstop position, even going as far as to sign Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima.
Chris Carter, 26, hit 16 home runs for the Athletics last year while playing first base and DH. He could slot in as the Astros' DH on Opening Day. Carter was at one time considered a top prospect, but was written off until his breakout last season. He should fight for a spot with newly-signed Carlos Pena.
Stassi was a 4th-round pick by the Athletics, and should start the season for the Astros in Double-A.
Peacock pitched 134.2 innings in Triple-A for the Athletics last season, and pitched his way to an ERA of 6.01. He is considered to be a good pitching prospect, but has a small 6'1 frame and has struggled in Triple-A. He could develop into a mid-rotation starter if he can work out the kinks.
Rodriguez should be decent relief-depth for Oakland, and not much more than that. In 2012 he pitched 70.1 innings and had an ERA of 5.37.
Oakland will now boast considerable depth at the middle infield spot, but will need someone to emerge at second base to go alongside the newly-acquired Lowrie. They also may need depth as Lowrie has struggled with injuries throughout his career.
This move is also notable because it is between two divisional rivals, despite the fact that Houston has yet to play a game as an American League team. It means that either Houston does not plan on contending while Lowrie is an Athletic, or that they do not value Lowrie particularly highly.