The Houston Astros are going to be buyers in the trade market this summer considering their position in the race for best seed in the American League. The Kansas City Royals are almost assuredly going to be sellers considering they have the worst record in all of Major League Baseball.
The matchup in terms of depth at positions the other team needs sets up perfectly for a trade between the two teams.
The Astros should trade their No. 1 prospect Hunter Brown and a mid-tier pitching prospect for MJ Melendez to get their catcher of the future.
The Astros have a stellar starting rotation this season, 80% of which is under team control through 2026 with Justin Verlander being the only question mark to return next year.
Even if the Astros lose Verlander, they will have Lance McCullers Jr. through 2026. That means their starting rotation of McCullers, Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy from today through 2025 is locked in.
Hunter Brown is looking like a future All-Star, but as the Astros have seen from Forrest Whitley to Francis Martes to Mark Appel, prospects are always just that. Prospects.
MJ Melendez has had a solid start to his career with the Royals, but with the extension the team gave to Salvador Perez, he is blocked at his natural position until 2025.
The Royals’ starting rotation is, to put it mildly, in pretty rough shape. They do not have a single starting pitcher with an ERA under 4.15. Even more embarrassing is they only have two starting pitchers who’ve struck out more batters than they’ve walked.
By comparison the Astros only have one starter with an ERA over 3.07 — Jose Urquidy at 4.76 — and not a single one has more walks than strikeouts. With this wealth of terrific starting pitching that will be with the team for the foreseeable future, the Astros can trade for a major league ready catcher to address one of their glaring offensive holes.
Melendez is the No. 45 prospect on the top 100 this year which means the Astros giving up Brown who is currently No. 96 on the top 100 and a player to be named later, most likely a pitching prospect who can eat innings and alleviate the current pain the Royals rotation is in, would be a fair trade that could help the Astros offensive woes at catcher.
And while it’s nice to believe Korey Lee will turn it around, Melendez is already showing he’s ready at the major-league level. Last year, he lead the minors in home runs with 41 while batting .288, and he threw out 31% of base stealers with a career 40% caught stealing. In his short time in the majors this year he’s hit .274 with an OPS of .806, four home runs and nine RBI in 28 games.
For comparison to the Astros’ current catchers, Martin Maldonado is at 42% caught stealing this year with a career 37% caught stealing, but his batting average is .136 with a .460 OPS and four home runs to go with 13 RBI in 40 games.
Jason Castro is at 33% caught stealing this year with a career 26% caught stealing to go along with a .102 batting average and .367 OPS. For good measure, he has no home runs and one RBI in 24 games.
Melendez is a left-handed bat to boot which covers Castro’s primary asset as a back-up for Maldonado.
If the Astros want to improve offensively without giving up anything defensively behind the plate while keeping an eye towards the future, a trade of Brown plus a low-level pitching prospect for Melendez could be an under-the-radar move that can benefit both teams with big holes on their rosters.