Victor Caratini should be the Astros' backup catcher next season
Much has been made of Martin Maldonado's severe drop-off in 2023. Maldonado has never done much with his bat, but his defensive excellence was enough to carry him over the years. However, this season he has been genuinely terrible on both sides of the ball. Clearly the Astros have a lot of affection for Maldonado for what he has meant to the organization, but with Yainer Diaz being the clearly superior player and Maldonado set to hit free agency, Houston needs to pull the bandaid off after this season.
However, that doesn't mean that the Astros shouldn't consider adding a capable veteran catcher to help guide Diaz and the pitching staff. One such option would be Victor Caratini. Sure, Caratini isn't an offensive stud, either, but he is highly regarded for his game-calling and receiving and he also has significantly less miles on him than Maldonado. He also shouldn't break the bank which does matter especially when it comes to a back-up.
Michael Lorenzen would provide Houston with some valuable starting pitching depth
Adding starting pitching this offseason may seem like a luxury more than a need for Houston and frankly, that could be correct. The Astros have a pair of arms coming back from arm surgeries (hopefully) sometime in 2024 in Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia, but exactly when that will happen is very much up in the air. The rotation should fine in the meantime, but adding some depth this offseason could be wise.
Given how much money is set to be tied up in their rotation, it is difficult to see the Astros playing in the deep end of the free agent pool this offseason. However, one arm that may be able to be had at a reasonable price is Michael Lorenzen. Yes, he just threw a no-hitter for the Phillies, but the more realistic projection for him is a middle-to-back of the rotation type who can put up quality, if unexciting, innings. The only potential hang-up could be price especially if he pitches well for Philadelphia down the stretch, but he seems to be one of the more reasonable options at the moment in free agency.