Look for the Astros to use the rest of the 2018 season to determine the future of their catcher situation fully.
Entering Tuesday morning, the Astros had Brian McCann, and Max Stassi listed as their primary catchers. Fast forward to Wednesday morning, and Tim Federowicz went 1-for-3 with two strikeouts as the catcher in Arlington.
Life comes at you fast.
By now we all know that McCann is out the next four-to-six weeks following right knee surgery. And Stassi was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance during Tuesday’s game against the Rangers. Thankfully for all parties, Stassi is listed as day-to-day.
That said, the Astros are now bit a thin at catcher. This quick development has to be concerning for Houston regarding the current season and even beyond into next season. Don’t be surprised if general manager Jeff Luhnow uses the rest of the 2018 season to address the catcher situation for the long-term.
The favorite answer today would be to trade for J.T. Realmuto, who is currently one of the best catchers in baseball. He is also wasting his prime years on the Marlins as he is presently in his age-27 season. And it’s a possibility. But the price for Realmuto would be steep. Awfully steep. I am not sure about you, but the Astros need to hold fast to no talks involving Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker.
Regarding internal options, the Astros do have some choices. For one, Stassi has impressed in his first shot at extended playing time in the majors. Over the course of 159 plate appearances, the age-27 catcher has seven home runs and a .822 OPS. Regarding catcher framing, Stassi leads baseball in framing runs with 11.0. And he also leads baseball with a 10.7 FRAA, which stands for Fielding Runs Above Average.
McCann could resign if he decides to continue his playing career. But it’s becoming evident that the long-time major league catcher is nearing the end of the line. For this reason, it would not be advisable to depend on McCann as the primary catcher. Plus, I could foresee the Astros desiring to get younger at the position.
Following the trade of Jake Rogers to the Tigers last August, Garrett Stubbs is now the top ranked catching prospect in the Astros’ system. The age-25 catcher currently has a .875 OPS in 200 plate appearances for Fresno. Not too shabby. Stubbs with Stassi could be the Astros’ catching corps later this season or next year.
Despite a perceived lack of immediate depth, the Astros do have options for the present and future. But this will be a position to observe in the coming months.