The Pirates' pitching staff has them right in the thick of the playoff race, but some believe they are lacking something offensively. They attempted to fill that hole by making a deal with a division rival, as they acquired Aramis Ramirez from the Milwaukee Brewers for a minor league pitcher.
The 37 year-old was sent from the Pirates to the Chicago Cubs 12 years to the day, and the 3-time All-Star plans to retire after the season. The Pirates will also receive cash considerations in the deal, as they filled a hole created by injuries to Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer, who are both out at least another month.
Despite leading the wild card race, the Pirates are currently six games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central after a 1-5 road trip. Ramirez will join Pittsburgh on Saturday against the Washington Nationals.
The third baseman began his career with the Pirates in 1998 and hit 76 home runs in his six years with the franchise before being traded to the Cubs in 2003.
The Houston Astros are in the playoff race due to decent pitching and an offense that leads the league in home runs. Their ace Dallas Keuchel started the All-Star Game for the American League, and they added former All-Star Scott Kazmir to that rotation on Thursday.
Houston sent minor leaguers Jacob Nottingham and Daniel Mengden to the Oakland A's for the right-hander. The Astros add another top-tier pitcher to their rotation in a quest for their first playoff spot since 2005, when they fell in the World Series to the Chicago White Sox.
The 31 year-old Kazmir was scheduled to start against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, but was sent away from Oakland early in the day. Drew Pomeranz made the spot start for the A's, and Arnold Leon from Triple-A took over Kazmir's roster spot.
The newly acquired right-hander is expected to start on Friday for Houston against the Kansas City Royals, as he went 5-5 with a 2.38 ERA in 18 starts with the Athletics.
The 20 year-old Nottingham was a sixth-round pick from the Astros in 2013 and hit .280 in 168 professional games. The 22 year-old Mengden was drafted in the fourth round in 2014 and has 101 strikeouts in 99.1 professional innings.
The A's have been known as sellers for a while, holding a 44-53 record and sitting 11 games out of first place. Houston is two games behind the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West and hold the top spot in the wild card race.