1 Houston Astros Trade that Will Begin to Hurt This Year
By Eric Treuden
At a quick glance, the Houston Astros rarely ever make trades that they don't win. I mean, take a look at who's on this team that was acquired in a trade.
Yordan Alvarez, Martín Maldonado, Ryan Pressly, Rafael Montero. Not a bad group.
However, there was one trade at the 2022 trade deadline that will certainly start to hurt the Astros this year.
Desperate to acquire some talent behind the plate last year, the Astros aimed at the top of the trade market and came away with Christain Vázquez, acquiring him in a trade from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for intriguing prospect Enmanuel Valdez.
Vazquez, now 32, swings the bat well and is widely regarded as one of the better defensive catchers in the league. After joining the Astros, he didn't contribute much at all as the team marched to its second World Series win of the past decade. In 35 games, he hit one home run with a 68 OPS+.
Valdez, 24, swings the bat from the left side and has a ton of home run pop that he mixes well with gap power and overall bat-to-ball skills. MLB.com's latest prospect rankings have him rated as the No. 18 prospect in the Red Sox system.
While he didn't make it into any big league games last year for the Red Sox, he is nearly guaranteed to do so this year. Heck, he is in contention to make the big league squad on Opening Day.
Last year between the Triple-A affiliates of both Houston and Boston, he broke out at the plate. In 126 games, he hit 35 doubles, 28 home runs, drove in 107 runs, and hit for a combined .296 batting average.
In the field, Valdez has played all over the diamond, earning considerable playing time at second base, third base, shortstop and both outfield corners over the past few years.
This positional versatility and thump in his bat would've been immensely helpful to the Astros in the upcoming campaign, even more so now that Jose Altuve is expected to miss significant time with a broken thumb he sustained in the World Baseball Classic.
Ultimately, the deal was a power-hitting prospect for a catcher who did not contribute much as a rental for the Astros. As we sit back and watch Valdez do his thing in another uniform, it's going to hurt.