While many expected Ryan Dempster to be one of the first dominoes to fall in the starting pitcher market at the trade deadline, he still remains in a Cubs uniform.
But several other starters have already been dealt, including Wandy Rodriguez, who went from the Astros to the Pirates Tuesday night.
Rodriguez, 33, isn't a star, but he's a very solid lefty who has put up a 52-51 record to go with a 3.45 ERA and 1.28 WHIP over 141 starts the last five seasons. He leads the league with 21 starts this year, boasting a 3.79 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. But his 6.1 K9 is the lowest it's been since his rookie season in 2005.
The Pirates gave up three fringe prospects -- Colton Cain (which is an awesome name, by the way), Robbie Grossman and Rudy Owens -- and held on to their top young arms -- Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole. None of the three players headed back to Houston were drafted above the sixth round.
That being said, Grossman has a career on-base percentage of .379 in the minor leagues and drew 104 walks last season in high-A ball. Cain is just 21 and throws left-handed. Owens is more advanced at age 24, but he has a 3.14 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 19 Triple-A starts this season.
Though none of the three guys looks ticketed for stardom, it was still a nice haul for the Astros. But they aren't the Cubs' problem after this season, as they will be headed to the AL West.
The Pirates, meanwhile, are showing that they are a force to be reckoned with and they intend to compete for a long time in the NL Central. They handed Andrew McCutchen a mega contract extension in the offseason and now add Rodriguez to their rotation through the 2014 season.
Veterans A.J. Burnett and Erik Bedard are having resurgent seasons in the Pittsburgh rotation to go along with breakout star James McDonald. Rodriguez gives the Pirates four good starters, something that will definitely come in handy during a playoff push.
Guys like Taillon and Cole are probably not too far away from cracking the big-league rotation, and Rodriguez may very well still be around when they get their first taste.
The trade didn't break the bank with the Pirates' small-market finances, either. The Astros will contribute at least 10 million and potentially as much as 17 million to Rodriguez's salary over the next three seasons.
The Reds and Cardinals figure to be in the thick of things in the NL Central for years to come and the Cubs are on the rise. But a move like this proves the Pirates don't plan on going away anytime soon, either.