While likely a minor move, the Astros did acquire some depth at catcher on Friday afternoon.
Lost in all the noise of qualifying offers as the weekend started, Houston’s front office was proactive on a separate front. Though it was a waiver claim, another catcher finds himself on the club’s 40-man roster: Chris Herrmann from the Mariners. You may remember his walk-off home run against the A’s helped the Astros clinch the AL West title back in late September.
For the Astros, Hermann adds another catcher to the depth chart. The position is kind of sparse right now as Max Stassi was the only catcher left on the 40-man roster. Brian McCann, Martin Maldonado, and Evan Gattis, all previous catchers during the last two seasons who are free agents.
Herrmann, who just completed his age-30 season, appeared in 38 games for Seattle this year. He slashed .237/.322/.421 with two home runs and a 107 wRC+. Mainly a backup catcher and outfielder throughout his career, Herrmann’s best season occurred in 2016 with Diamondbacks. Through 166 plate appearances, he would slash .284/.352/.493 with six home runs and a 117 wRC+. His numbers did dive in 2017 as he finished with ten home runs in 256 plate appearances, although his 58 wRC+ left something to be desired. While he does maintain a high strikeout rate for his career (27.1%), his 9.5% career walk rate is definitely around average.
A native of Tomball, Texas, Herrmann attended Alvin Community College before heading to the University of Miami. Drafted by the Orioles in the tenth round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft, he would elect not to sign. Herrmann was eventually drafted by the Twins in the sixth round in the 2009 draft and made his major league debut in September 2012. Herrmann seems pretty pumped to join his hometown club.
As for the rest of the offseason, Herrmann’s acquisition does little to change the perception that the Astros are looking for another catcher. J.T. Realmuto is a favorite trade target not only for Houston but every contender in need of an All-Star level catcher. But Herrmann is a solid insurance policy for Houston club that needs major league depth at the position.