Jul 23, 2015 1:53 PM by CBS Sports
By David Brown | Baseball Writer
The first domino of the non-waiver deadline trading season has fallen. The Oakland Athletics have sent left-hander Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros for a trio of prospects -- right-hander Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham. Kazmir was to start Oakland's game Thursday, but instead he'll be moving on -- and up -- in the AL West standings.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports had the news first, with Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle noting beforehand that Kazmir was hugging his teammates good-bye. She reported Wednesday night that a deal to Houston, which also is Kazmir's home, probably was coming.
Kazmir has posted a 2.38 ERA with with 101 strikeouts in 109 2/3 innings this season with the A's, who are 11 games back in the division after reaching the wild card in 2014. A year ago, the A's sent prospects to the Cubs for pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Now, with a 44-52 record, they're dealing away in order to get younger.The Astros have been the big surprise of the 2015 season, though they have faded lately and been overtake for first in the West by the Angels. Houston's record is 53-43, which would get them into a wild-card spot, were the playoffs to start today.
Kazmir is in the second year of a $22 million deal, and will be a free agent next season, when he turns 32 years old. He sure improves Houston's staff, which includes Cy Young and MVP candidate Dallas Kuechel, along with Collin McHugh and Lance McCullers Jr. Kazmir definitely gives the Astros another tool with which to beat the Angels.
Regarding the players coming to the A's from the Astros farm system, CBS Sports' Mike Axisa notes:
The Astros did not give up any of their top prospects to acquire Kazmir, and the Megden/Nottingham package indicates the A's aren't necessarily looking for MLB ready players at the trade deadline. They have several other rental players who figure to be available, most notably Zobrist and Tyler Clippard.
Mengden, 22, was Houston's fourth-round pick in last year's draft. He has a 3.46 ERA with 84 strikeouts and 26 walks in 88 1/3 innings this season, split between two levels of Class A ball. Prior to the 2014 draft, Baseball America said Megden operates with a low-90s sinker as well as a promising slider and changeup.
The 20-year-old Nottingham was a sixth round pick by the Astros in the 2013 draft. He's having a monster year, hitting .326/.383/.558 with 24 doubles and 14 homers at Single-A. Nottingham is a work in progress behind the plate with a strong arm, though he needs to improve his overall receiving. He's a bat-first prospect.
More to come on this deal. The non-waiver trading deadline is July 31.
AP PHOTO/BEN MARGOT