Yesterday, the Houston Astros made an interesting trade, acquiring Hank Conger from the Los Angeles Angels for prospects Nick Tropeano and Carlos Perez. Conger, who has yet to have over 260 plate appearances in a major league season, has mainly been relegated to platoon duty in his career. Despite that limited playing time, Conger has flashed excellent power potential, making him an intriguing player for Houston going forward.
Yet, that trade for Conger opens up a few questions at the position; specifically, what will happen with both Jason Castro and Carlos Corporan? Both Castro and Corporan have displayed excellent power themselves, but the acquisition of Conger may make one of them expendable.
Instead of being a replacement for Castro, it may be that Hank Conger has been been brought in as sort of an insurance policy. After the All-Star performance that Castro put together in 2013, his 2014 season was a complete disappointment. The Astros themselves may not be certain which player Castro is, or will be going forward. Should he implode outright, having a player with a lot more potential than Corporan waiting in the wings could be a benefit to the offense.
Despite being considered the weaker part of the Angels catcher platoon defensively, Conger still put together a solid season behind the plate. He was worth a positive run saved, and while he may not have the best arm from a catcher, was not completely embarrassed by a running game either. In fact, coming over to the Astros, it could even be argued that Conger is, at least statistically, better than Jason Castro defensively.
With the Astros still in the process of climbing out of their rebuild, it is important that Jeff Luhnow find talent in any way that he can. By bringing in a piece like Hank Conger, even if the catcher position was not necessarily a dire need, Luhnow has managed to acquire another asset for the Astros this season. It also sets the table for him to potentially acquire another useful piece for Corporan, maybe one of the relievers that the Astros so desperately need.
Hank Conger is an excellent piece of insurance for the Astros at catcher. Now, we wait to see what the next domino to fall will be.