Astros still need to add behind the plate

The Astros have connected with a variety of catchers this offseason.They were reporting interest in free agency Wilson Contreras, Christian Vasquez When Tucker Barnhart I also contacted them to investigate A’s transaction. Sean MurphyHowever, these free agents have since found new teams and Murphy has been dealt to the Braves, thus failing to achieve all of these goals.

Interest in Barnhart was reported on December 7th, and since then, little has been said about the plans behind the plate, so things have been pretty quiet for a while. However, their current capture force is noticeably weaker than last year, so it stands to reason that they still need to watch for upgrades.

In 2022, the Astros started the season with the following players: Jason Castro as a backup to Martin MaldonadoCastro appeared in 34 games by the end of June, but was placed on the disabled list in early July with knee discomfort. He later required season-ending surgery and announced his retirement in December.The Astros acquired Vazquez in time to meet the deadline, but he reached free agency at the end of the season before signing with the Twins.

With Castro and Vazquez gone, Maldonado remains the clear top option on the depth chart. He is 36 now, turned 37 in August, and just had surgery for a sports hernia in November. There are obvious risks to being on the upper side. Maldonado is better known as a game caller and leader of the pitching staff, but he ranks poorly on objective statistical measures. , has been a below-average hitter in each season of his career, with the exception of the shortened 2020 campaign, with an overall batting average of .209/.285/.349. That his production was about 28% below the league average and his wRC+ was 72 for him. But the Astros seem perfectly comfortable living with their lukewarm offense to get Maldonado’s other qualities in the dugout and clubhouse.

There was a one-month period in July with Castro sidelined and Vazquez still unscored.In its window, the club facilitated prospects corey leeGoing into 2022, Lee was considered the club’s frontrunner as a shortstop. Jeremy Peña come second. This high ranking comes on the heels of his good 2021 performance, when Lee was promoted from High-A to Double-A, Triple-A in his 22-year-old season.

Unfortunately, 2022 didn’t go so smoothly for Lee. He appeared in his 12 MLB games in his July but stayed at a .160/.192/.240 batting average. This is a very small sample, he is still quite young, he turned 24 in that month. He spent most of his years in Triple-A, where he hit 25 home runs, but the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast he spent in his league. His .238/.307/.483 batting average put him 10% below the league average in practice in that environment, and wRC+ he finished with 90. Previous suspensions in the minors. Baseball America has dropped him to No. 6 on Houston’s latest list of prospects. You may need a little more time to continue growing.

The only other catcher on the club’s 40-man roster is Yainer Diaz, 2022 was essentially Lee’s inverse. Diaz went from being considered the club’s 16th-place prospect at the beginning of the year by BA to second place by mid-season. With a bat-first reputation, Diaz showed it off last year. Starting in 2022 in Double-A, he was promoted to Triple-A, batting . At that new level, he posted a .294/.342/.587 batting average in his 48 games, plus he posted his 121 in wRC+. He was able to make his league debut in the majors later that year, but he just didn’t hit much in his six games. While his offensive rendition is certainly encouraging, his defense isn’t as highly regarded. He spent a good deal of time last year at first base and in the outfield corner to get his bat into the lineup. From an offensive perspective, it’s debatable that he doesn’t need more time in the minors, but he’s only played his 48 Triple-A games. He’s only 24 and his defense is a work in progress, so spending more time in the minors isn’t a silly proposition either.

The Astros showed last year that they weren’t afraid to lean on young, unproven players in the season opener. Entering 2022 they replaced Carlos Correa With Jeremy Peña, who had no major league experience yet. It was certainly dangerous, but it worked out for the club and Peña had a very good season, eventually winning the World Series MVP. But such rookie breakouts simply cannot be relied upon. Right now, the club doesn’t have many hits and has his 36-year-old starter just out of surgery, followed by a little bit of his MLB experience each and definitely in the minors. There are two youngsters of his who need to play regularly.

The club is definitely aware that something needs to be done based on interest in other backstops this winter. The Astros are considering: Gary Sanchez, Robert Perez When Jorge Alfaro Some top names are still available. Each of these players has their strengths, but they are considered lower tier than players like Contreras, Vazquez and Murphy.

None of these players are likely to require contracts longer than a year, so 2023 could be a wait-and-see year behind the scenes for Houston. Maldonado is also a free agent after next season, so perhaps the club will ride with him and one more veteran of his, hoping either Lee or Diaz can take over and secure his job for 2024. I’m here. they are the defending champions Jose Abreu Exchange Yuri Gurriel in their thunderous line-up. Justin Verlander We left for the Mets, but the rotation should be in good shape without him. Despite the club’s strengths, the Mariners will have his breakout year in 2022, and the Angels and Rangers have each been very aggressive in upgrading their rosters this offseason, leaving their divisions It looks much more challenging than his year ago. For the Astros, the catcher force stands out as the only weak spot in the roster and will need to be addressed before they can begin their title defense.

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