The Astros and Phillies officially announced their seven-player trade on Saturday, with closer Ken Giles and shortstop Jonathan Arauz being traded to Houston in exchange for pitchers Vincent Velasquez, Mark Appel, Brett Oberholtzer, Thomas Eshelman and Harold Arauz.
The deal was originally reported to include outfielder Derek Fisher instead of Appel, but the official announcement from the clubs indicated that the top overall pick is indeed headed to Philadelphia. The move is a bit of a surprising one, though critics believe Houston was smart to move Appel while he still had value as a prospect.
The Astros came into the Winter Meetings with the goal of acquiring a proven closer, and will get their man in Giles after being linked to Aroldis Chapman, Brad Boxberger, Andrew Miller and others on the trade market. Giles will serve as the team's closer, and pitch alongside Luke Gregerson, Will Harris, and Pat Neshek, among other relievers.
In 2015, the Astros had the 2nd best reliever fWAR (5.3), and adding Giles will only strengthen that area of the team. In 70 innings with the Phillies, Giles posted a K/9 of 11.19, a BB/9 of 3.21, along with an ERA of 1.80 and an FIP of 2.13. According to FanGraphs, his average FB velo was 96.5 MPH, and his max effort was 102.2 MPH, by Brooks Baseball's data.
The centerpiece going back to the Phillies in this trade is undoubtedly Velasquez, who's future value is a 60 (out of 80), and is under team control through the 2021 season. He has fantastic strikeout stuff, as he routinely posted double digit K/9 rates in the minor leagues. As of now, it's unclear as to what Philadelphia's immediate plan is for Velasquez, but he could potentially begin the 2016 season in the starting rotation.
Appel, the first overall pick in the 2013 draft, has struggled to a 5.12 ERA in 54 minor-league appearances (53 starts) since being drafted. He is still considered a high-upside prospect and will likely provide a long-term rotation option for the Phillies organization.
Oberholtzer could also join the rotation in Philadelphia, as he's made 42 starts with the Astros over the last three years. He pitched well in 2013 and 2014, posting fWAR's of 1.3 and 2.3, respectively, but Oberholtzer took a step back in 2015. His BB/9 rose from 1.75 to 3.99, and ended the year with a 4.49 FIP, a career worst at the major league level.
Eshelman was the Astros' second-round pick in the 2015 draft. Eshelman made four starts in his initial pro season, allowing five runs and a dozen hits in 10⅓ innings, walking five and striking out eight.