Could Max Stassi Switch Positions?
By Jason Burke
Before we get started, there have been no reports of such a move, but the question was asked on our ask.fm account, so I figured why not tackle it? That question being: with the abundance of catching depth and talent, would it be possible we see a position change for Max Stassi? He has proven to be too much talent to ride the bench behind Jason Castro or a trade piece. Possible outfielder, DH or even first base?
I am not sure that Houston would consider this move, but it’s worth pondering. As Astros’ announcer Bill Brown said in the podcast last night, he wouldn’t be surprised if the Astros added a first baseman behind Jon Singleton. As we all wish we could forget, Singleton hit just .168 in 2014, which is not something that the Astros can withstand for another season if they’re looking to improve.
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While Max Stassi wouldn’t be a surefire significant improvement over Singleton, .168 isn’t that high of a bar. Stassi wouldn’t provide the power potential that Singleton does, but his numbers in the minors suggest that he could be ready for a look in the show. Last season with Oklahoma City, Stassi hit .247 with a .296 on-base percentage while belting 9 home runs and driving in 45.
Now, first base is a power position, and those power numbers don’t quite stack up to the likes of Albert Pujols and Price Fielder within the division, but if Singleton needs some extra time in the minors, giving Stassi a real look could be a beneficial move. As of right now, there is no room for him to assume his regular position behind the plate in Houston. Even if Luhnow ships off one catcher, there would still be two ahead of him on the depth chart.
Having Stassi up for a stint while Singleton gets some work in the minors could show Luhnow what he’s working with moving forward, at least from an offensive perspective. That look could show that Stassi can handle the big leagues, making one more catcher available for trade, or it could show that he, too, needs more work in the minors. Yes, he hit .350 in his time in the majors last season, but that was only over 20 at-bats. He’ll need a longer look to be fully assessed.
Do I think it will happen? Probably not, but that is the reasoning for such a move. Well, that and the fact that he was acquired from Oakland, an A’s team that has moved catchers to play all sorts of positions. Josh Donaldson moved to third, Daric Barton to first, and Stephen Vogt can play the outfield, and that’s just from last year’s team. Seeing that Houston has added former A’s Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek and Jed Lowrie (ok, maybe not Lowrie), they could br more apt to adopt an Oakland thought process, but I don’t think this is the move they make. Giving him time to learn first base during the spring would take away time that he would have to learn the pitchers nuances, which is more valuable in the long run to the Houston Astros.