HOUSTON -- The Astros made a strong push at landing front-line closers Aroldis Chapman of the Reds and Craig Kimbrel of the Padres right up to Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, which ultimately passed without them being able to pull the trigger on another deal.
If the Astros were able to bring either to Houston, it might have made them the favorite to win the American League, but they still bettered their chances in the days leading up to the Deadline by adding left-hander Scott Kazmir last week and outfielder Carlos Gomez and starter Mike Fiers from the Brewers on Thursday.
"I'm very happy with the moves we made as an organization, starting with Scott Kazmir and culminating with the moves [Thursday] night," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said before Friday's 6-4, 10-inning loss to the D-backs. "We did work on a few moves today and we were hoping to potentially add one more piece, but nothing came to fruition. There is August and there might be other chances to do things, but I think right now we have a really good roster and a roster that's ready to compete for this division."
Luhnow said the Astros were involved in five potential deals at the same time Friday, but a source said they had offers on the table for Chapman and Kimbrel -- two of the top closers in the game. Houston's bullpen has been a strength this year, but the Astros wanted to add a power arm. Owner Jim Crane was pushing the acquisition of Chapman.
"It didn't happen," Luhnow said. "We were willing to give up some value to get them, but it didn't happen. I don't think any of the guys we were looking at got moved and obviously clubs are hesitant to move guys like that this time of year, but we were certainly willing to engage."
Teams can make trades after Aug. 1, but the player would have to pass through waivers, so the Astros' chances of making an impact deal are greatly diminished.
"I think we had a great Deadline time," manager A.J. Hinch said. "You never know what happens in August, but to upgrade the way we've been able to upgrade, that's some talent going in and some tough decisions with guys going out. You ask your front office to pay attention and reward you for a season that started out well, and they really responded by bringing some potential impact guys to help us continue to be better."
The Astros, who began play Friday with a two-game lead over the Angels in the American League West, spent much of the first half leading the division, and adding key pieces in Kazmir, Gomez and Fiers gives the players confidence to know the front office buys into what's going on.
"I think we're in a great spot," said third baseman Jed Lowrie, who returned to action Thursday after missing more than three months following thumb surgery. "We've got a good feeling in here, good chemistry in here and they continue to add pieces that should help us win. Playoffs are a funny thing in baseball, but we've got a good group in here, and I think we're positioned well."