Houston Astros: Assessing the Catcher Situation
By Cody Poage
Option #2: Tyler Flowers
Aug 15, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstopAddison Russell
(22) slides safely under the tag of Chicago White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers (21) to score a run during the fifth inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Now time for an external option: recently non-tendered and now former Chicago White Sox catcher, Tyler Flowers.
At first glance, the idea of signing a 30-year old catcher seems like an odd move for the Astros to make. But his offensive contributions (.239/.295/.396, 15 HR, 50 RBI in 2015) would appear to be an upgrade over Castro and Stassi in that facet of the game.
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Flowers is also another catcher widely known for his pitch framing abilities, which is what the Astros value mostly from their backstops. In fact, Flowers actually finished second in baseball with an RAA (Runs Above Average) of 22.5, only behind Francisco Cervelli of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Castro and Conger finished seventh and fourteenth in that same category with an RAA of 12.9 and 8.2 respectively. Flowers also finished the 2015 season eighth in oStr% (9.9). And for those that do not know, oStr% is the percentage of pitches called outside the strike zone as a strike.
The former White Sox catcher will be figured to come with a bigger price tag than Conger’s projected 2016 salary of $1.8 million. In fact, Flowers’ salary in 2015 was $2.7 million, which was more than double than Conger’s 2015 salary of $1.1 million. But I don’t think trading Conger had much to do with his projected raise. Considering the long-term questions about Castro and Stassi, the Astros may need to spend more too, in theory, improve their offense behind the plate but also the defense as well.
Next: Option 3