Houston Astros: Assessing the Catcher Situation

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Option #1: Max Stassi

Max Stassi (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

Along with right-hander Brad Peacock, catcher Max Stassi remained with the Astros after coming over with Chris Carter from the original Jed Lowrie trade to Oakland in 2013. But thus far in his Astros career his primary purpose has been that of an insurance policy in case of injury on the major league roster.

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With Conger now out of the picture, though, you have to think that the Astros front office is willing to give the 24-year old backstop a chance of sticking on the 25-man roster in 2016. He does, in fact, have major league experience, albeit brief. The pitchers on the staff should be familiar with him by now considering his time catching them in the minors and multiple years of spring training. And he has had time to learn how to utilize better pitch framing, a practice that the Astros like for their catchers to utilize.

Stassi would also assuredly be a better option regarding throwing out would-be base stealers than Conger, who had a notoriously difficult time in that facet of the game in 2015. In fact, Stassi threw out 26% of would-be base stealers compared to just 2% for Conger this past season.

The primary issue with Stassi could be his bat and how consistent he would perform at the major league level. In 2015, the 24-year old catcher only slashed .211/.279/.384 with 13 HR and 43 RBI. So basically in 328 plate appearances Stassi only had a 73 wRC+, which is well below average. It was the same story in 2014 when only had a 72 wRC+ in 425 plate appearances.

Conger was the best offensive catcher that the Astros had at times last season. And considering Castro’s struggles at the plate in the past two seasons, Stassi will need to step up to the plate to help the offense. But as long as he provides solid defense and timely hitting, then the Astros will probably have no qualms heading into the 2016 season with Castro and Stassi as their two primary catchers.

Next: Option 2