Jeff Luhnow was named Astros general manager only six days ago. His first nine years in baseball were with the Cardinals. So, how is it that he pulled off a trade so quickly, and one that two rival executives called a win for the Astros?
Allow Luhnow to explain how he and new Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington negotiated the deal that sent reliever Mark Melancon to Boston on Wednesday for infielder Jed Lowrie and right-hander Kyle Wieland.
“Several of the GMs have been very welcoming — they called me, talked to me, welcomed me to the club,” Luhnow said. “Ben was one of those guys. He reached out almost immediately. It was very nice to hear from him.
“We started talking. Originally, it was about some other players. But pretty quickly we figured out that he had a surplus of middle infielders — and that was a big need for us.”
Luhnow said the early talks involved the possibility of the Astros moving some of their high-salaried players — presumably, first baseman Carlos Lee, left-hander Wandy Rodriguez and right-hander Brett Myers.
“There wasn’t a lot of appetite for that (from Boston),” Luhnow said. “That withered on the vine. We talked three or four times starting Saturday. (Tuesday) morning, it intensified. It was a pretty straightforward situation.”
Luhnow said that he had a working knowledge of all three players; he had scouted each of them in college while with the Cardinals. The trade also marked Cherington’s first significant deal since he replaced Theo Epstein as Red Sox GM on Oct. 25.
“You never want to give up a 26-year-old closer under control,” Luhnow said. “But given where the Astros are right now, is that piece of the puzzle the most important vs. a solid, up-the-middle player with some pop and a young guy who may be a middle- or back-of-the rotation starter down the road?
“What we got is perfect for what we need.”
— Ken Rosenthal