Could the Astros land one of the top catching free agents this offseason?
As of right now, the Astros catcher for the 2019 season would be Max Stassi. He would be backed up by either Chris Hermann or Garrett Stubbs. Even though Stubbs is one of the Astros top 30 prospects, he has no MLB experience but could win the job with a hot spring training. However, the Astros are not really in a position to give kids a chance to play unless they have no other options.
When you are competing for a championship, you need to add to the depth of the roster. This is the problem; they have no proven option in the system at the moment. They have traded away Jacob Nottingham and Jake Rogers over the past three seasons. They were both labeled catchers of the future, but so was Stassi at one point.
Brian McCann and Martin Maldonado are now free agents. The Astros declined the 15 million dollar option on McCann after an injury-riddled season. With that move, they have decided to move on from McCann, but they would be interested in retaining Maldonado for the right deal. Until then, they will look what’s on the catching market and monitor the J.T. Realmuto market.
One intriguing name who the Astros could be looking at is Yasmani Grandal. Yes, the Dodgers catcher. The same one whom Dodgers fans have soured on with his hitting and defense in the World Series. Grandal was offered a qualifying offer worth about $17.9 million. Should he decline and sign with another team, that team would have to sacrifice a draft pick. This is something that the Astros don’t like to do, give up draft picks.
According to Jon Morosi, the Astros and Mets are interested in the free agent catcher. As Morosi points out, the qualifying offer could be a barrier. The Houston front office will have to decide how much they want to add Grandal to the lineup. In 2017, Grandal batted .241 with 24 homers and 68 RBI via Baseball-Reference. After starting strong, batting .251 with 13 homers and 47 RBI in the first half, he struggled in the second half. He batted .226 with 11 homers and 21 RBI.
Grandal was losing at-bats in the World Series to Austin Barnes. He only got one start in Game 3, the only game the Dodgers won by the way. Overall, Grandal batted .107 in the playoffs, with a .484 OPS. Like we saw with the Astros and McCann, the Dodgers may look to move on. The 30-year-old catcher will be looking for a big deal this offseason.
Is he the top catcher available? Some would say that Wilson Ramos has the edge over Grandal. Ramos is a year older than Grandal, but he had a great season batting .306 with 15 homers and 70 RBI. According to Robert Murray, the market for Grandal is heating up. What do you think?