TERTIARY NEED: Center fielder
OPTION: Michael A. Taylor
LOOKING TO REPLACE: Jake Meyers
Acquiring Mancini, whose secondary position is left field, partially takes care of this problem in that Chas McCormick can now get more reps in center field. McCormick has also proven in recent weeks that he’s a suitable replacement for Michael Brantley in left, but Jake Meyers has struggled mightily at the plate since returning from injury, leaving somewhat of a hole in center field. With Andrew Benintendi and David Peralta having been dealt to the Yankees and Rays respectively, the trade market for outfielders is slimmer than it was a week ago, but there could still be help on the way.
Meyers has seen his OPS+ on the season drop to 69, and the 26-year-old still has potential to be an impact player at the big-league level as he showed in 2021, but perhaps a reset in the minors would help him, just for the rest of 2022. One way the Astros can go about replacing him is by acquiring Michael A. Taylor from the Royals to be the everyday center fielder. This would not only give the Astros an extra man to only play McCormick against lefties if they want, but it also raises their incentive to keep Yordan Alvarez at DH and puts an established major leaguer in center.
Taylor is coming off an outstanding Gold Glove season, in which he recorded 15 outs above average in center field according to Statcast. He’s also having a career year at the plate, with a .278/.348/.394 batting line (110 OPS+). With just 14 extra base hits and 6 home runs, he doesn’t offer much in the way of power at the plate, but his high-contact game essentially makes him a more affordable version of Benintendi that happens to play center field instead of left. Taylor is making $4.5M this season and next, making him a possible option to flip to another team next year in the event that Meyers breaks out later on.
There is another center fielder that was recently taken off the trade market with the news that the Pirates were unlikely to move him, and that is Bryan Reynolds. Reynolds is a 5-star centerfielder with team control that would have cost the Astros some quality young players, and Pittsburgh is deciding to hold onto him for now. He may be worth pursuing when that changes, though.
It’s not even trade deadline day yet, but the acquisitions of Mancini and Vazquez have already made this a successful time of year for the Houston Astros. If they can plug their remaining holes tomorrow, however, their deadline will go from successful to a major home run. Either way, this team is just about ready to get locked and loaded for another championship run.