Well, the Houston Astros keep on surprising everyone right before the MLB’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.

Around noon, Houston traded infielder/outfielder Tony Kemp for Chicago Cub’s catcher Martin Maldonado.

For the most part, fans seemed happy to see Maldonado’s return despite it resulting in Kemp getting traded. Although, he would eventually get traded to the Toronto Blue Jays later in the day.

However, one question remained about Houston. Fans and myself were wondering if the team would make a trade for a pitcher.

The Astros needed a pitcher. Houston has struggled at times to close out games because of their pitching. A team’s bullpen can never be too strong, nor can a team have too many pitchers to fit into rotation.

Then minutes before the trade deadline, the Astros made the largest move out of every MLB team.

Houston traded with the Arizona Diamondbacks to acquire right-hander Zack Greinke. He will now join Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole in the pitching rotation. This will help solidify the depth at pitching.

It did not come without its own cost though. The Astros had to send right-hander Corbin Martin, right-hander J.B. Bukauskas, first baseman Seth Beer and infielder Josh Royas to finish the deal with the Diamondbacks.

Houston had to make this trade. It was an absolute must. It was worth trading four young players to receive six-time All-Star Greinke. While Houston lost some of its young talent, the trade will give the team a much stronger shot at winning the World Series now.

Grienke is 10-4 with 2.87 ERA, 128 strikeouts, with a 0.94 WHIP in 22 starts in 2019. He has been a rock for the D-Backs since 2016 and right up until this trade. Grienke also won the Cy Young Award with the Kansas City Royals in 2009.

He most recently faced the New York Yankees on Wednesday and struck out seven batters in five innings.

Houston can now add another reliable starter to its pitching rotation with Grienke. The Astros also acquired right-handers Aaron Sanchez, Joe Biagini and outfielder Cal Stevenson from the Toronto Blue Jays for Maldonado and outfielder Derek Fisher, according to an Astros press release.

The depth of Sanchez and Biagini will also help alleviate some of the pressure off the other pitchers.

Prior to the trade, the Astros’ starters ranked first in strikeouts per nine innings with 10.5 and opponent’s batting average at .213. The team’s ERA is ranked fourth at 3.68.

Greinke is in the fourth year of a six-year $206.5 million deal he signed with Arizona prior to the 2016 season.

Keenan Betz: 409-683-5237, keenan.betz@galvnews.com or on Twitter @surebetkeenan

Sports Columnist, Reporter & Copy Editor

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