Worst move thus far
There hasn’t been much to criticize the Astros this offseason in regards to trades or signings. The team hasn’t really seen of anyone of great impact leave the organization. In fact, one could argue that retaining Colby Rasmus on a $15.8 million qualifying offer or the package necessary to acquire Giles were more detrimental to the Astros. Or a non-move for a free agent that can provide an immediate impact like an Alex Gordon or another starting pitcher. I tend to think that a strong case can be made for the non-move. Just depends on how you view the situation. However, according to the article, the Astros worst offseason move so far was the trade of catcher Hank Conger to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations. That’s right, the loss of “Panda Crusher.”
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According to the article, the trade to acquire Conger from the Los Angeles Angels last offseason is one reason why this offseason’s trade with the Rays a costly one. And after reading his reasoning, I ended up agreeing with Mr. Reuter. After all, the Astros did part ways with two prospects in Nick Tropeano and Carlos Perez. One can argue that Tropeano could’ve been used in the competition for the final spot in the rotation while Perez may have been penciled in as the Astros’ backup catcher for 2016.
Conger also managed to provide some quality offense while he was in the lineup as he did manage to hit 11 home runs in only 201 at-bats. Actually, his total offensive performance equated to 107 wRC+. And it is true that he was one of the top pitcher framers in baseball. In fact, he was ranked 14th out of all catchers in RAA in 2015 (8.2). But the primary issue with the former Angel was his ability to throw out baserunners as he only threw out 2% of baserunners last season. Regardless if a team utilizes heavy analytics or not, the fact that a big league catcher threw out only one baserunner while allowing 42 stolen bases is inexcusable.
The cost to acquire Conger did not seem warranted a year ago and seems even more so now. And the trade for cash considerations basically admits as such in a roundabout way. This admission means that repercussions of a trade one year ago is the worst move that the team has made this offseason. Strange, right?
The offseason is far from over as the Astros did make waves in the January acquisitions of Luis Valbuena and Rasmus last year. General manager Jeff Luhnow and his front office could make similar waves this year. And who knows, maybe this list could change sometime shortly.
**Statistics provided by Fangraphs and StatCorner**