As I mentioned earlier, there are 20 catchers currently on the free agent market this offseason. That sounds like a big list to choose from, surely there are quite a few top-notch catchers to be had. But is there really?
The catcher at the top and the one that will be the most sought after is Yasmani Grandal. The 2019 All-Star from the Milwaukee Brewers will most likely be a hot commodity. When going down the list of who else is available past Grandal, the quality of catchers remaining starts to drop off significantly.
Grandal and Chirinos are the top two free agents with their 5.2 and 2.3 WAR, respectively. Following them is Tyler Flowers at 2.1 and from that point on there are only four with a WAR between 1.0 and 1.6. The remaining 13 all have a WAR below 1.0 and seven of those are in the negative.
Tyler Flowers was in a one-year $6 million contract with a team option at $6 million for 2020 or a $2 million buyout. At that price, he would most likely be a replacement for Chirinos and they would still be needing a backup. I think keeping Chirinos at the same cost or lower would be the best option in that situation.
Jason Castro and Travis d’Arnaud are next down the list with a 1.6 WAR each. Castro has been bringing in $8 million the last couple of seasons and that seems a tad expensive for the Astros, especially at numbers below what they already have in Chirinos.
Travis d’Arnaud had a decent year once he was traded to the Rays in May. He had a .263 BA in 92 games including 16 home runs. He was in a one-year $555 thousand contract for 2019 and might be available at a bargain.
There is always the trade route, but it’s a little too soon on the offseason to get a good idea of who might be dangled out there for the taking. I’m sure J.T. Realmuto will have his name mentioned in rumors again this season, but again, too expensive unless you’re throwing in someone like a Josh Reddick or Carlos Correa.
So as you can see, there are quite a few different avenues for the Astros to go down, but maybe not as many as you would think. It will be interesting to see what the Astros front office will be considering this offseason. Although, with Jeff Luhnow in the front seat, I have faith they’ll do what’s in the best interest of the team to have another shot at a World Series Trophy in 2020.