The Houston Astros made the postseason in 2015 for the first time in a decade, and are trying for a return trip in 2016. They added an anchor to the back end of their bullpen on Wednesday, agreeing to a trade for closer Ken Giles from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for four players, per Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.
The trade is reportedly pending a physical.
Per multiple reports, pitchers Vincent Velasquez and Brett Oberholtzer are going to Philadelphia in the deal, and Berman reported that outfielder Derek Fisher is included as well. The fourth minor leaguers is reportedly pitcher Thomas Eshelman, per Evan Drellich of MLB.com.
Giles, 25, put up a 1.80 ERA in 69 games for the Phillies in 2015, just his second major league season, with 87 strikeouts and 25 walks in 70 innings. The right-hander saved 15 games in 17 chances after taking over in the closer role for Jonathan Papelbon, who was traded to the Washington Nationals in July.
With no premiere closers on the free agent market, the Phillies capitalized. The San Diego Padres were able to get four highly-touted prospects from the Boston Red Sox in November for three years of Craig Kimbrel, arguably the best closer in the game. The Los Angeles Dodgers nearly pulled off a trade for Aroldis Chapman, but the Cincinnati Reds closer's pending domestic dispute investigation put that deal on hold.
Giles, with five years before he hits free agency, was arguably the best closer available on the trade market, and the Phillies, who lost 99 games in 2015 and have averaged 92 losses the last three years, were able to reload.
Velasquez, who turns 24 in June, put up a 1.91 ERA in 33 innings with Double-A Corpus Christi in 2015, with 45 strikeouts and 13 walks in 33 innings. He was rated as the No. 75 prospect in baseball before the 2015 season by Baseball Prospectus, and the No. 86 prospect by MLB.com.
Velasquez made his MLB debut with the Astros in June, and in 55⅔ big league innings put up a 4.37 ERA while striking out 58 and walking 21.
Oberholtzer, 26, has a 3.94 ERA in 45 games, including 42 starts, in parts of three major league seasons with the Astros, with 166 strikeouts and 56 walks 253⅔ innings.
Fisher, now 22, hit .275/.364/.483 with 22 home runs and 31 stolen bases in 123 games across two Class-A levels in 2015, playing center field and left field. The left-handed hitter was drafted in the supplemental first round by Houston, the 37th overall pick, in 2014.
Eshelman, who turns 22 in June, was drafted by the Astros in the second round in the 2015 draft.