Baseball’s offseason is far from over, but we’ve already seen a few interesting transactions by the Astros.
When the Astros’ season ended in October, the club was facing numerous questions. Impending free agents and positions to address were a common source of material.
Fast forward to the end of December and Houston hasn’t made the big splash or anything. Rather, the club has shored up a few positions without sacrificing long-term flexibility. Let’s take a quick look so far.
Robinson Chirinos – One-year, $5.75 million
Honestly, I’m not sure if the Astros should acquire catcher this offseason. Max Stassi showed notable growth in 2018 as he posted a 100 wRC+, which is league average, in 250 major league plate appearances. He was also one of the best pitch framers in the majors. There could be something long-term with him, but I understand the reservations.
That said, Chirinos’ offensive contributions over the past few seasons is hard to ignore. At $5.75 million for 2019, it was a terrific value signing by the Astros. Although he isn’t known for his pitch framing abilities, you can bet that general manager Jeff Luhnow and his front office see some redeemable qualities on this front.
Initial grade: B
Acquired Aledmys Diaz for LHP Trent Thornton
In light of Marwin Gonzalez’s free agency, the Astros needed to address their roster depth. While it isn’t likely that Houston will completely replace Gonzalez’s versatility, they did an admirable job acquiring Diaz from the Blue Jays. The question is if the Astros believe they can help Diaz stabilize his power numbers, which have varied across three major league seasons.
We will likely seen Diaz all over the field next year as he can cover multiple infield positions along with possibly left field. The kicker for the Astros? He is under club control through 2022.
Initial grade: A-
Michael Brantley – Two years, $32 million
Although Brantley hasn’t been the picture of ideal baseball health for a couple of years, he finally looked like his old self in 2018. In 631 plate appearances, the 31-year old outfielder slashed .309/.364/.468 with a 124 wRC+. Also, he struck out only 9.5% of the time and posted one of the best contact rates in 2018. When healthy, Brantley is a proven talent, and his left-handed bat should fit in nicely with the Astros.
However, the catch with Brantley is his health. If he isn’t healthy, then the Astros are down an All-Star level talent. But the long-term risk isn’t much at only two years, so it’s a worthwhile addition.