Astros: What’s next for the team now that Carlos Betran retired?
You can replace Carlos Beltran on the Astros roster, but you can’t replace what he meant for this team.
After Carlos Beltran left the Astros after the magical 2004 postseason, many fans booed him when he came to town. Many fans just couldn’t get over him choosing the Mets over the Astros. When he returned 12 years later, he explained that he wanted to return, but Drayton McLane was being difficult. That part is history, as is Beltran’s MLB career as he officially retired Monday.
When Beltran returned prior to the 2017 season, fans welcomed him back. While he didn’t have the impact we hoped with the bat, he helped more as a leader in the clubhouse. Beltran played in 107 games this year as a DH and batted .231 with 14 homers and 51 RBIs. When Beltran wasn’t the DH, Evan Gattis or a core player getting a day off from the field was the DH.
Next man up.
With Beltran no longer in the picture, things will change for the Astros. One option you could see is for Gattis to get more at-bats as the DH. While it hasn’t really stopped A.J. Hinch in the past, it’s not best practices to have your backup catcher as the regular DH. When the games mattered, like in the playoffs, they carried a third catcher just in case.
Let’s say that Gattis is the designated hitter if this is the case, then they might try to add a third catcher in case. They do have Max Stassi and Juan Centeno, but they look into upgrades on the free agent market. As we saw in the playoffs, Gattis is an impact bat that shouldn’t be wasted as the backup catcher.
Instead of a third catcher, they could also pair Gattis up with A.J. Reed or Tyler White, whoever is the hottest bat at the moment is. Hinch will also use the DH spot as a way to get some of the star players some time off the field. Either way, they will most likely address the DH spot through in-house options. A.J. Hinch likes to alternate the lineup based on analytics.
Free agent options.
There are some other options out on the free agent market such as Jay Bruce or Carlos Santana. With a couple years before their young core will need to start getting paid, I don’t see them going out and investing long-term in too many high priced free agents. Then comes the rumored interest in Jonathan Lucroy coming off a down season.
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If Lucroy could come at a discount, then Gattis could be moved to DH. Lucroy can also play first base as well, so he would fit in the flexibility of this team. It’s too early to tell who will replace Beltran on the team, but you can’t replace his leadership.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***