The Houston Astros have an interesting choice to make at catcher this offseason.
The Houston Astros will now have to determine this offseason what to do about their catcher position this offseason. Do they desire offense or defense from the position in 2017? A balance of both?
Normally this would’ve been an easy decision one year ago. And that easy decision was to resign Castro.
Despite his offensive issues (88 wRC+ in 2016), the veteran catcher is a valuable presence on the Astros roster. His defensive skills behind the plate are well-documented, and his 12.8 RAA was the fifth-best in the majors. If only Castro hit the market one year sooner.
There is another catcher making the decision quite difficult for the Astros: Evan Gattis.
This, this is where the decision for general manager Jeff Luhnow becomes harder to make.
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Gattis, the former Atlanta Brave, is primarily known for his hitting ability. In fact, the bearded slugger hit a career-high 32 home runs, which led the team. And he did his best damage as a catcher!
2016 season as a catcher: .295/.345/.647, 19 HR, 41 RBI
2016 season as a designated hitter: .219/.298/.410, 13 HR, 31 RBI
Don’t forget that while Gattis did catch with the Braves, he did not catch once in his first season as an Astro in 2015. He was actually the team’s primary designated hitter. But if the splits are to be trusted, then it is obvious that catcher should be Gattis’ primary position.
Of course, there is a drop off in defense to a certain extent with Castro to Gattis. Not a severe drop off mind you, but enough of one to notice. That could sway what the Astros decision about whether to go with one or the other.
Or perhaps keep both Castro and Gattis? There are worse options than rolling with both as your two primary catchers for the foreseeable future. And don’t forget about Max Stassi.
Then, there is the other free agent catchers.
Wieters is the first name to come to mind as a possible replacement for Castro in Houston if the latter chooses to leave.
However, he may not be an upgrade at this point over Castro in terms of defense or the offense of Gattis. Wilson Ramos could still be an option, albeit an unlikely one due his unfortunate ACL injury just last month.
Odds are that the Astros 2017 starting catcher was on the roster in 2016. All we can do now is wait and see.
**Statistics provided by StatCorner and Baseball Reference**