Trade Talk: Houston Astros Need A New Catcher


2013 was a great year for Jason Castro.

In 491 plate appearances Castro slashed .276/.350/.485 on his way to 18 home runs and 63 RBIs. The lone Astros All-Star representative appeared to be on his way to becoming one of baseball’s best young catchers at the age of 26.

Though the Astros were mired in a playoff drought for several years, many thought GM Jeff Luhnow had the team on the right path. They’d be acquiring prospects, drafting high in drafts, and could build around pieces such as Jose Altuve and Jason Castro.

Unfortunately, the Astros are now only building around one of those guys. Castro, the 10th overall pick in the 2008 draft, hasn’t been able hit much since 2013. His defense has improved but his bat has seemingly gotten smaller and smaller.

The 2014 season saw Castro hit just .222 over 126 games. His BB percentage dropped nearly four percent while his K-rate jumped three percent.

This season both those numbers have normalized a bit, though his average has continued to drop to a minuscule .208 through 62 games. Last year those abysmal numbers from Castro were ok. The Astros weren’t in a pennant race and they didn’t have many better options.

This year, however, the Astros are in a pennant race and can’t afford to have a mendoza-line hitter in their lineup, even if his defense is above average. Backup Hank Conger hasn’t done much better, though his .237 average and .756 OPS are huge improvements over Castro.

Conger isn’t a starting catcher in this league, but frankly neither is Castro. Both are plusses defensively but are surefire outs offensively.

The Astros have been streaky offensively and don’t always need production from their catcher’s spot in the lineup. However, Castro has had ample opportunities for a big hit or clutch RBI and has failed on almost every occasion.

When the offense struggles, many like to point to Chris Carter or Evan Gattis. Sometimes it’s Luis Valbuena who will get the blame. No one blames it on the catcher’s position, but that has pretty much been a no-run’s spot in the lineup this whole season.

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Unfortunately for the Astros, catcher isn’t a position in which teams have an abundance of at this time of the year. The only two catchers that seem to be somewhat available are Jonathan Lucroy and Derek Norris.

Lucroy is coming off an MVP-type season but the Brewers may enter rebuilding mode and Lucroy can fetch them a nice package. Norris has been very solid offensively this year and could provide the Astros with some power from the bottom of the lineup.

Castro and Conger aren’t quite cutting it for me and it’s time for a change behind the plate. Whether it’s Lucroy, Norris, or another name, I can’t imagine we see Castro behind the plate for much longer.

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