Evan Gattis looks to get more time as the Astros DH after Carlos Beltran’s retirement.
With the Winter Meetings around the corner, the Houston Astros don’t have too much time to relax. The players do, but not Jeff Luhnow and the front office. One of the offseason questions was what would happen with the designated hitter spot with Carlos Beltran retiring? As of now, it appears that we know the answer.
According to Jake Kaplan, Luhnow said the team’s plan is to use Evan Gattis as the primary DH in 2018. With the signing of Beltran last year, the writing was on the wall that Gattis would lose playing time in 2017. Since Gattis has taken over some of the catching duties in 2016, his at-bats have dwindled down.
Credit to Gattis for accepting that role knowing he would lose playing time. With Beltran on the roster, Gattis was needed as the DH. After the ALDS of the 2017 playoffs, you saw the shift away from Beltran to Gattis. This move added the extra offense with Beltran not hitting like he used to. However, when they played at Dodger Stadium, he was the power bat off the bench.
Do the Astros already have another backup catcher?
Despite this move, you will still see Gattis play catcher from time. However, they want Gattis in the lineup more often. The question is, who will replace him as the backup catcher? There are the usual suspects in Max Stassi and Juan Centeno. If the playoff selection means anything, Centeno will get the nod.
Stassi was once considered the up and coming catcher in the Astros system. He was acquired in the original Jed Lowrie deal from the Athletics. His career was never the same after getting hit by a pitch in the face in 2013. Stassi did look better last year, but only batted 0.167 with two homers in 14 games.
According to Kaplan, the Astros feel that Stassi is capable of being the backup catcher to Brian McCann. He is out of options, so he would have to be placed on waivers if he doesn’t make MLB club. It sounds like the team is not ready to part ways with Stassi yet.
Centeno is not an offensive force at the plate either, but he seems to be more polished as a catcher. While he made the postseason roster, he very rarely played. Kaplan suggests that the Astros may try to keep Centeno in the system by having him clear waivers.
Lucroy really an option?
Luhnow believes that Stassi improved enough in 2017 to be given a chance in 2018. This means that he could be the guy, but they could look for other options. The big name that has been mentioned is Jonathan Lucroy, who is a free agent for the first time.
Lucroy started last year with the Rangers, before being traded to the Rockies. He is coming off a down season, so he may be looking for a one year deal to rebuild his stock. Lucroy is 31-years-old, so it’s hard to imagine him accepting a backup role. The two-time All-Star batted .265 with only six homers, but started hitting better with the Rockies.
Either way, Gattis will get more playing time in 2017. Many fans wondered why he didn’t get more playing time in 2017? It’s a hard choice with the designated hitter rule in place. Good for Gattis and good for the Astros. His role will also depend on offseason moves.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***