Those connected say Houston is involved in talks with Arizona for an additional outfielder
With the need still in place for another outfielder, either as a depth option in left field beyond Yordan, or an everyday superstar like a Bryan Reynolds, Houston is continuing to pursue all potential options.
Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle is reporting that the Astros are involved in talks with the Arizona Diamondbacks after the Diamondbacks began shopping their young outfielders at the Winter Meetings.
Daulton Varsho, Alek Thomas and Jake McCarthy are all believed to be available, and as many as 10 teams are engaging in conversations with Arizona. Of the three, Varsho likely makes the most sense as an Astro.
Varsho brings a versatility even Houston hasn't possessed in recent years, as he can catch and play all three outfield spots. He's a truly elite outfielder, racking up 26 runs saved in three years, and finishing last season in the 99th percentile in outs above average and 97th in outfield jump. He isn't as good defensively behind the plate, but would likely only make spot starts. He hit .235 with 27 home runs and a .745 OPS last year.
There is potential for regression with Varsho, as he heavily outperformed his Statcast expected stats, but with Jeff Bagwell adamant that the game isn't played on computers, it's likely Varsho is the main target of the three available. Batting from the left side would be an added bonus to help balance the lineup.
McCarthy also would make sense in Houston. He too is capable of manning all three outfield spots, though not nearly as well as Varsho. McCarthy's value is in his bat and his speed. He batted .283 with a .769 OPS last season. He also swiped 23 bags in only 99 games thanks to his 30.1 ft/sec sprint speed, 10th best in the game. As a fourth outfielder, he would be a massive upgrade over the Mauricio Dubon experience in center field.
Thomas was a mid-May promotion last season. The former top-20 prospect struggled, hitting only .231 with a .619 OPS. While his future is incredibly bright and he comes with plenty of team control, Thomas doesn't make sense for a team like Houston that is in World Series or bust mode. Thomas finished last season in the 9th percentile in xwOBA and xSLG, and only 32nd in xBA. Either Varsho or McCarthy would provide more immediate assistance.
All three of Arizona's outfielders bat from the left side, something Houston is said to be looking to add. Arizona is believed to be looking for big league ready right-handed hitters in exchange. Could we see Houston send right handed outfielders like Jake Meyers and Pedro Leon in a scenery swap of young outfielders? They'd likely need to add another prospect or two as Arizona would be moving more accomplished pieces.
For the right price, either Varsho or McCarthy can immediately contribute to this Astros team. With Winter Meetings in the rearview and plenty of moves across the market still to be made, we should be getting a clearer picture sooner rather than later of what Houston intends to do with their remaining outfield opening.