Before he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays, Hank Conger had a notoriously difficult time throwing out base runners during his lone season in Houston. In fact, he only threw out 2% of would-be base stealers while allowing 42 stolen bases. Regardless of his bat or pitch-framing abilities, stolen bases allowed ultimately became his undoing in the Astros eyes.
Essentially, this leaves Max Stassi and Alfredo Gonzalez as the only two catchers remains on the 40-man roster besides Castro. And don’t forget about Tyler Heineman, Trent Woodward, and Roberto Pena. Based on who is on the 40-man roster, it appears that Stassi and Gonzalez have the inside track. That could easily change though depending on how the offseason and spring training unfolds.
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The free agent market for catchers was a weak one this offseason. Tyler Flowers was a backstop who could’ve intrigued the Astros, but he signed a deal with the Atlanta Braves. Other notable names like Chris Iannetta and Brayan Pena never appeared on the Astros radar, at least to the public’s knowledge. One familiar name, Carlos Corporan, still remains available.
At the end of the day, the Astros still have plenty of options at catcher, especially on the internal level. However, quite a few besides Stassi have yet to experience the major leagues. And considering Castro’s injury issues last season, the Astros need to have a dependable backup plan. But if the team finds a serviceable catcher that could help spell Castro from time to time in free agency or via trade, then it wouldn’t be surprising to see the front office pull the trigger to acquire him.
Don’t forget that Jeff Luhnow and the Astros front office pulled the trigger on numerous moves last January. Luis Valbuena, Dan Straily, Conger, Evan Gattis, and Colby Rasmus were acquired well after the start of 2015. And while the possibility exists that the team stands pat with their current roster, we all know that Luhnow likes to deal when nobody truly expects it. I have a feeling we may see more of that this year as well.
**Statistics in the following posts provided by Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference**