What is the Astros Most Needed Position This Offseason?

There are a few holes to patch up on the Astros roster this offseason.

The offseason will be heating up soon in Major League Baseball (MLB) and the “Hot Stove” will be burning hot as teams will be making moves in preparation of the 2019 season. The Boston Red Sox stopped the Houston Astros in their quest at back-to-back World Series Championships. Every offseason there will be roster turnover, and it’s an unfortunate reality that some crucial players will not be on the team when Spring Training kicks off in March.

Dallas Keuchel, Marwin Gonzalez, and Charlie Morton are a few names that could be wearing a different uniform in 2019. When we look at the Astros roster, losing key players previously mentioned is a gut-punch, but the Minor League system and current Astros players will have to step up. However, the most pressing need that Houston has for this offseason is the catcher position.

For the Astros in 2018, they fielded a few catchers throughout the season. Brian McCann, Martin Maldonado, Max Stassi, and Tim Federowicz all were behind the plate for Houston. Currently, the only one of those four players is on the roster, Max Stassi. McCann’s 15-million-dollar team option was declined, and Maldonado will hit free agency. It is obvious that General Manager Jeff Luhnow will have to figure out a better option to be the starting catcher for a team that is going to be a World Series contender for many years to come. We will look at what could be going through the mind of Luhnow and the realistic options the team can look at to improve the team.

In-House Candidates

In all honesty, the Astros are thin at catcher from top to bottom. As mentioned before, Max Stassi is the lone backstop on the MLB team from last year and is one of two catchers on the 40-man roster along with the recently acquired Chris Herrmann. Garrett Stubbs is the organization’s 15th best prospect according to MLB.com and is in AAA. If Luhnow believes Stubbs is ready, we could see him in the MLB as early as this season. Another catcher in AAA is Jamie Ritchie, but Stubbs would almost certainly get the call before him.

Outside Options

Jeff Luhnow is always scouring the market seeking ways to improve the organization. This offseason there are options on the free agent market that could entice the Astros general manager into spending some money to get a sizeable upgrade for the squad. The top of the free agent class for catchers are Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos. Grandal will come with a hefty price tag. Ramos was the American league’s representative for starting catcher and was traded to the Phillies at the trade deadline. A few other options are Kurt Suzuki, Robinson Chirinos, Jonathan Lucroy, and Matt Wieters. The Astros could also decide to keep their own free agents with either one of Brian McCann and Martin Maldonado. The “Belle of the ball,” so to speak, of all the possible options, would not be a signing; it would be a trade for arguably the best catcher in the MLB: JT Realmuto of the Miami Marlins. Realmuto has been said to be unhappy with the rebuild in Miami. Especially, after the team traded away other top players Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna. There would be a steep price in the form of prospects form any team that would be interested in bringing him on board.

What I would do

Even though no one probably cares what I would do for the Astros, I care, so this is what I would do: trade for J.T. Realmuto. Like I said before, it’s going to take a lot to get Realmuto from the Marlins, but the Astros should be willing to give up a strong package of prospects for the Miami catcher. Realmuto never had interest in being part of a rebuild with the Marlins. Houston has made top prospect right-handed starting pitcher Forrest Whitley and outfielder Kyle Tucker untouchable in trades, but the Astros could interest Miami with a trade package starting with MLB.com’s 3rd best Astros prospect Yordan Alvarez.

My trade package for Realmuto: Alvarez, left-handed pitcher Cionel Perez (#5), right-handed starter JB Bukauskas (#8), and a lower level minor leaguer.

*#’s are MLB.com Astros prospect ranking

Why the Marlins do this:

If you are going to rebuild, you might as well tear it down and start over a la the Astros and Cubs. This trade package gives the Marlins three highly regarded prospects that can play in the majors right now or are close to reaching the MLB; plus a possible “lottery ticket” type minor leaguer as well.

Why the Astros do this:

The Astros are going to be a top team in the league for a long time, but with stiff competition from the A’s, Red Sox, Yankees, and Indians, they need to keep staying at the top and make the rich even richer. The price to pry Realmuto from Miami will be significant, but Houston has a deep farm system and could live with letting some of that minor league depth go. Realmuto is under club control for two more seasons until he becomes a free agent himself, according to Spotrac. Getting an all-star catcher for two full seasons? Sign me up.

By Cameron Villavaso

The offseason will be heating up soon in Major League Baseball (MLB) and the “Hot Stove” will be burning hot as teams will be making moves in preparation of the 2019 season. The Boston Red Sox stopped the Houston Astros in their quest at back-to-back World Series Championships. Every offseason there will be roster turnover, and it’s an unfortunate reality that some crucial players will not be on the team when Spring Training kicks off in March. Dallas Keuchel, Marwin Gonzalez, and Charlie Morton are a few names that could be wearing a different uniform in 2019. When we look at the Astros roster, losing key players previously mentioned is a gut-punch, but the Minor League system and current Astros players will have to step up. However, the most pressing need that Houston has for this offseason is the catcher position.

For the Astros in 2018, they fielded a few catchers throughout the season. Brian McCann, Martin Maldonado, Max Stassi, and Tim Federowicz all were behind the plate for Houston. Currently, the only one of those four players is on the roster, Max Stassi. McCann’s 15-million-dollar team option was declined, and Maldonado will hit free agency. It is obvious that General Manager Jeff Luhnow will have to figure out a better option to be the starting catcher for a team that is going to be a World Series contender for many years to come. We will look at what could be going through the mind of Luhnow and the realistic options the team can look at to improve the team.

In-House Candidates

In all honesty, the Astros are thin at catcher from top to bottom. As mentioned before, Max Stassi is the lone backstop on the MLB team from last year and is one of two catchers on the 40-man roster along with the recently acquired Chris Herrmann. Garrett Stubbs is the organization’s 15th best prospect according to MLB.com and is in AAA. If Luhnow believes Stubbs is ready, we could see him in the MLB as early as this season. Another catcher in AAA is Jamie Ritchie, but Stubbs would almost certainly get the call before him.

Outside Options

Jeff Luhnow is always scouring the market seeking ways to improve the organization. This offseason there are options on the free agent market that could entice the Astros general manager into spending some money to get a sizeable upgrade for the squad. The top of the free agent class for catchers are Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos. Grandal will come with a hefty price tag. Ramos was the American league’s representative for starting catcher and was traded to the Phillies at the trade deadline. A few other options are Kurt Suzuki, Robinson Chirinos, Jonathan Lucroy, and Matt Wieters. The Astros could also decide to keep their own free agents with either one of Brian McCann and Martin Maldonado. The “Belle of the ball,” so to speak, of all the possible options, would not be a signing; it would be a trade for arguably the best catcher in the MLB: JT Realmuto of the Miami Marlins. Realmuto has been said to be unhappy with the rebuild in Miami. Especially, after the team traded away other top players Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna. There would be a steep price in the form of prospects form any team that would be interested in bringing him on board.

What I would do

Even though no one probably cares what I would do for the Astros, I care, so this is what I would do: trade for JT Realmuto. Like I said before, it’s going to take a lot to get Realmuto from the Marlins, but the Astros should be willing to give up a strong package of prospects for the Miami catcher. Realmuto never had interest in being part of a rebuild with the Marlins. Houston has made top prospect right-handed starting pitcher Forrest Whitley and outfielder Kyle Tucker untouchable in trades, but the Astros could interest Miami with a trade package starting with MLB.com’s 3rd best Astros prospect Yordan Alvarez.

My trade package for Realmuto: Alvarez, left-handed pitcher Cionel Perez (#5), right-handed starter JB Bukauskas (#8), and a lower level minor leaguer.

*#’s are MLB.com Astros prospect ranking

Why the Marlins do this:

If you are going to rebuild, you might as well tear it down and start over a la the Astros and Cubs. This trade package gives the Marlins three highly regarded prospects that can play in the majors right now or are close to reaching the MLB; plus a possible “lottery ticket” type minor leaguer as well.

Why the Astros do this:

The Astros are going to be a top team in the league for a long time, but with stiff competition from the A’s, Red Sox, Yankees, and Indians, they need to keep staying at the top and make the rich even richer. The price to pry Realmuto from Miami will be significant, but Houston has a deep farm system and could live with letting some of that minor league depth go. Realmuto is under club control for two more seasons until he becomes a free agent himself, according to Spotrac. Getting an all-star catcher for two full seasons? Sign me up.

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