Earlier today, Jon Heyman (CBS Sports) wrote that interest in Astros catcher Jason Castro is starting to heat up and could intensify once catchers like Brian McCann or Jarrod Saltalamacchia go off the board.
Would the Astros be willing to trade Jason Castro? Only Jeff Luhnow knows. Jon Heyman says, “It isn’t certain how serious they are about dealing Castro, who became an All-Star in 2013 for the first time, but Houston is said to like catching prospect Max Stassi very much.” Castro hit .276 with 18 home runs and 58 RBI’s in 120 games for the Astros last season before missing the final month with a knee injury.
Brian McTaggart (MLB.com) believes the Astros aren’t strong enough at catcher to deal Castro.
While it’s true the Astros like catching prospect Max Stassi, whose Major League debut was hampered by a concussion suffered in his second career game in August, they remain relatively thin at the position. Plus, the Astros, coming off three consecutive 100-loss seasons, are at the point they need to start moving forward, which would mean hanging onto their young talent.
I think there are two sides to a possible Castro trade. It’s true the Astros need to start moving forward, but they can still trade Castro while moving forward. One possible trade where the Astros can move forward is by dealing Jason Castro with another (likely) top 10 prospect for David Price. The Rays are known to be dangling Price and the Astros should be interested assuming Price is willing to sign an extension. On the Rays side, they have no catching depth and are known to love young, cost-controlled players like Castro who is entering his first year of arbitration.
There are some interesting facts about a possible Castro plus prospect trade for Price. As noted by Aaron Ashcraft (Astros County – @Aarcraft9), Price’s 2013 WAR was 4.4 and Castro’s was 4.3. Castro is already an All-Star at catcher and is still just 26-years old. This year, Price’s fastball velocity dropped 2 MPH and his K-rate dropped by a strikeout an inning. Would the Astros still be willing to take a chance on the yearly CY-Young contender? I think so.
While Castro is an All-Star catcher and looks to be on the rise, there are also red flags regarding the oft-injured catcher. In early September, Castro hurt his knee rounding first base and missed the remainder of the season. Two years ago, Castro tore his ACL in that same knee and it’s well documented that knee injuries to catchers are never a good sign. Could Castro still be a yearly All-Star at the catcher position? No doubt, but there are red flags regarding Castro and a move to first base would likely lessen his value.
Another possible scenario regarding a Castro trade would be to flip Castro for several prospects. I don’t think this scenario is likely as the Astros have spent three years dealing their best players to revamp a terrible farm system, which has now gone from worst-to-first in three years. Some may say now is the time to keep their young players for the future and not to deal them for more prospects.
We know Castro has improved on offense and may finally be breaking out. The former first round pick was hitting .310 with six home runs and a .954 OPS in 37 second-half games before his injury. We know the offense is there but his defense is a bit iffy. Castro has struggled to keep the ball in front of him though he does have a good arm behind the plate. With Castro’s injury history and spotty defense, it’s possible the Astros may be willing to trade their All-Star catcher if the deal is right.
What do you think Astros fans? Flip Castro and another prospect for an elite player such as David Price? Keep Castro and let him flourish as the Astros All-Star catcher for years to come? Sounds off in the comments below!