Both of the Astros primary catchers from 2019 are free agents, leaving many possibilities.
Since 2015 the Houston Astros have used 11 different catchers, and with Robinson Chirinos and Martin Maldonado becoming free agents, the only lock for the position is Garrett Stubbs. The offseason does present possibilities for Houston to improve in this area if they don’t re-sign Chirinos.
THE CASE FOR MARTIN MALDONADO
I expect the Astros to make a pitch to him since he was familiar with the club and was a part of this team the last two postseason runs. Although he struggled defensively in the 2018 postseason, he seemed to step it up and get back being a solid backstop for most of the playoffs in 2019. He would also come at a cheaper price than Chirinos.
If you could have two veteran catchers with this club and their familiarity with the pitching staff, it would be a plus with the way the clubhouse runs. You would have two catchers for under $10 million a year, as more than likely $4 million for Maldonado might get it done.
Maldonado is not a top rated catcher when it comes to offense, but we know what he provides for the Astros rotation. His price tag is hard to resist. Don’t be surprised if they bring him back.
The Astros have their eyes set on signing some big pieces in the offseason from the prospects of bringing back Gerrit Cole to giving George Springer the big contract he has been due for a couple seasons. But they still need a solid backstop.
Here are my top five free agent catchers available I believe the Astros should take a look at this offseason.
Grandal was an excellent signing for the Brewers last winter and will pay dividends for whichever team has him for 2020 and beyond. He slashed .246/.380/.468 with 28 home runs in 153 games in 2019, making him the top offensive free agent catcher by a mile. His defensive prowess doesn’t hurt his cause, either.
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Grandal would be a great option for the Astros to consider. He is 30 years old and his offense is very good for a catcher, so he would be ideal to fit in even with bringing back Chirinos or Maldonado.
In 2019, d’Arnaud revamped his career. The Rays saw his bat come alive as he hit .263/.323/.459 with 16 home runs in 92 games. The only downside for the Astros is he may garner a pretty handsome contract, so signing him might be a stretch but he’s definitely one worth looking at.
3. Robinson Chirinos
I believe Chirinos comes in at number three. He has value, knows the club and comes in at a bargain price. I put him third because his bat is definitely overall weaker than the top two. He put up a .238/.347/.443 line with 17 homers in 114 games.
4. Yan Gomes
If Gomes can return to his 2018 form at the plate he might be a good pickup for the Astros. Even though he played for the Nationals and defeated Houston in the World Series, his experience as a backstop and ability at the plate to hit and get on base would be valuable. A key factor would be if he stays healthy as well. For the price he would bring, the Astros might want to take a look at him.
5. Jason Castro
Castro is a viable option. He is a former All-Star with the Astros and has had decent success at the plate from time to time. His greatest value is his pitch framing ability and the way he works with pitchers.
His familiarity with the Astros organization and pitching coaches would make him an instant fit. Maybe he can revert back to his All Star season 2013 where he hit .276 with an OPS of .835, or even his first year in Minnesota where he hit .242 with an OPS of .720. Either way he can make a difference for this club.