HOUSTON -- Three years after he came to his hometown team as one of the centerpieces of the blockbuster deal that sent Hunter Pence to the Phillies and furthered the Astros' rebuilding efforts, right-hander Jarred Cosart learned he won't be around to see the process to the end.
The Astros dealt the 23-year-old Cosart, along with utility player Kike Hernandez and Minor League outfielder Austin Wates, to the Marlins just minutes before Thursday's 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline. It's the fifth year in a row the Astros have made an impact deal in July.
A starting pitcher with nine wins was a high price to pay, but the Astros believe they got a solid return in outfielder Jake Marisnick, Minor League right-hander Francis Martes and third baseman Colin Moran, who was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. They also received a 2015 Competitive Balance pick.
"Our goal going into this trading season was, any transaction we did, we wanted to make sure we at least held serve in the big leagues and continue to develop with an eye on the future," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "We were able to do that today."
Marisnick played in 14 games for the Marlins this season, having spent the majority of the 2014 campaign with Triple-A New Orleans. In 89 games with the Zephyrs, he hit .277 with 16 doubles, 10 home runs, 40 RBIs and 24 stolen bases. He has primarily been a center fielder during his Minor League career and figures to start in center for the Astros until Fowler gets healthy.
"It's exciting," Marisnick said. "It's the second time I've been traded, and both times it's come as a little bit of a surprise, but just knowing another team wants me to come in and play for them is exciting. I'm really excited for this opportunity and ready to get after it."
Moran, who was in the pool of players the Astros considered taking with the top pick last year, was hitting .294 with five homers and 33 RBIs in 89 games at Class A Jupiter and will make the jump to Double-A Corpus Christi.
"He's still young," Luhnow said. "He's still the age of most of the guys coming out of the Draft this year, and he's had success. He was banged up a little in Spring Training and missed about a month of the season, but we think he's going to be a special player. He's a left-handed hitter who's going to hit a lot of doubles and some home runs as well. He has a really good eye, and he'll be the kind of hitter who fits well into our lineup."
Moran, 21, could push Matt Dominguez at the Major League level as soon as next season, with Rio Ruiz behind him at Class A as the Astros build some much-needed depth at third. He was taken sixth overall after Mark Appel was taken with the top pick, and they'll both finish the season as teammates with the Hooks.
"It was pretty surprising," Moran said. "I've never been traded before, and I haven't been in pro ball for a Trade Deadline. It's exciting, and I'm happy to be a part of the Astros organization."
Martes, 18, can touch 97 mph with his fastball and went 2-1 with a 4.97 ERA in seven games (five starts) in the Gulf Coast League, striking out 31 in 29 innings.
Getting a Draft pick was key for the Astros as well. They got a comp pick from the Orioles last year in the Bud Norris deal and took outfielder Derek Fisher from Virginia with the 37th overall pick.
Cosart, born and raised in the Houston area, took the trade in stride.
"It's business," Cosart said. "[You] just go on and keep playing baseball. Getting traded is not a bad thing. It's already happened once. I'm excited, I guess, for a new start. It's tough leaving home and everything like that, but I'm still playing the game I love, just in a different city."
Hernandez has had a whirlwind month, being promoted to the big leagues without having even been in big league camp, and he homered in his first game. An infielder by trade, he was pressed into service in center field because of injuries.
"It's been a crazy month, that's for sure," Hernandez said. "Now I'm going to a winning team, and it's a really exciting time for me."
The trade caught some by surprise, considering Cosart is young, affordable and a key piece of the rotation, but the Astros like their starting pitching depth throughout the system.
The Astros had been shopping starting pitching but told teams that left-hander Dallas Keuchel wasn't available. So the attention quickly turned to Cosart, who made his debut in 2013 and went 9-7 with a 4.41 ERA in 20 starts this season.
Luhnow said the deal was consummated with "seconds to spare."
"To be honest, this morning I came into work and thought there was a 25 percent, 30 percent chance we were going to do the deal," he said. "There were some things we talked about with other clubs involving different players, and none of those seemed to gain any traction.
"We were in a unique position [that] we didn't have to do anything. Jarred Cosart has value. There was no need to trade him today, so we could sit back and hold firm on our asking price, and that's basically what we did."
Now that the non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed, deals involving players on a 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams, he cannot be traded. The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player, or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to him.