Free agency could fill the need
While I would enjoy watching Realmuto catch Justin Verlander on Opening Day in Tampa next March, I’d also understand if general manager Jeff Luhnow decides to go in another direction. Tucker and Whitley are considered top prospects for a reason. There is the potential for plenty of future value between the two. And, yes, I realize Tucker didn’t look good in his brief debut. Put an added emphasis on brief. Prospects are never a guarantee, but the farm system is the Astros’ lifeblood. Trade too much of that lifeblood, and a return to mediocrity likely awaits in the future.
That said, plenty of free-agent catchers are available. Grandal rejected the Dodgers’ $17.9 qualifying offer, which makes him a free-agent this year. Yes, any team that signs the age-30 catcher will have to surrender an early round draft pick. Jonathan Lucroy, once one of the best catchers not too long ago himself, is available. Wilson Ramos is another intriguing option. Matt Wieters, Kurt Suzuki, Robinson Chirinos, and Martin Maldonado are also looking for a professional home in 2019.
In the situation specifically with Grandal, the question is whether the Astros value Tucker and Whitley more than early round draft pick in 2019. As it currently stands, the former Padre and Dodger is the second-best catcher readily available. He will have plenty of suitors. If Houston decides to pass on the Realmuto sweepstakes, then Grandal is the next logical option to explore.