The Houston Astros have signed catcher Dustin Garneau to a one-year deal but why did the team pick him? Come on, let’s take a dive.
Houston Astros fans — the first move has been made of the offseason and it’s to help with the catching depth that the team so desperately needs to address.
The Winter Meetings, which are scheduled to be in San Diego about two weeks from now, which may be more action-packed than we previously have envisioned. At this stage, I think you’ll see some minor deals made but once the franchise gets to the big show, it will be a showdown and I think the Houston Astros will have their ace pitcher — or two — to replace Gerrit Cole by the end of that coveted week.
Our core players of Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel and Michael Brantley are set but we’ll have to wait to see how the saga plays out with George Springer and how much loot that he’s going to deposit into his safe this season.
If the Houston Astros decide to arbitrate, he’s estimated to make $21.4 million for next season but they may try to work out a long-term deal for him to spread his well-deserved money out over a period of time.
There’s relatively little work to be done position-wise outside of the catching position but it’s the pitching depth that the Houston Astros will regard as high-priority.
Just based off the surface and his level of expertise, this guy is certainly going to be jockeying for position in the Spring for the backup catcher position as the team is not completely sold on Garrett Stubbs, the only catcher that was under contract before Garneau was signed.
I’m sure the Houston Astros have their hopes pinned on bringing back Robinson Chirinos, who had a good season and was a terrific fit. They’ve already expressed interest. However, the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds and the Texas Rangers also want to harpoon his services so projecting the likelihood of his return is still too close to call.
But in the meantime, what Garneau brings to the table is being a solid defensive catcher that actually hits well when it comes to crunch-time.
What do I mean by crunch-time? When the game is late and close — meaning that when he’s making plate appearance in the 7th inning or later with the team tied, up by one or with him being the tying run on deck — his slash line was an amazing .600/.750/.800 through eight plate appearances in 2019.
Also to illustrate, Garneau hit a walk-off double against the A’s back June 5 in a 10-9 win when he was still with the Angels. The A’s liked him so much, they claimed him off waivers, making it his second tour of duty with the team as he previously was with them back in 2017.
That’s a remarkable, yet small sample size but it goes to show that he has the ability to come through in the clutch.
He hits well against either power (.294) or finesse (.279) pitchers and batted .444 against ground ballers last season.
Garneau is well-traveled, with the Houston Astros being his 5th team in the past four seasons
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with stops at the Colorado Rockies, Oakland A’s, Chicago White Sox, Angels with the A’s being his most recent stop.
Garneau, a 19th-round pick from the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft, has made his living as a journeyman and his winding road of a career may stop here in Houston, depending on how well he does.
He’ll be working directly with Alex Cintron to help reach his full potential and I’m certainly rooting for success as we officially will have a position battle between him and Stubbs.
I can’t say that I’m overly excited about this signing but I felt the same way about Charlie Morton before he morphed into one the best pitchers in baseball, a career that was rejuvenated by the Houston Astros.
Maybe the same could be had in Garneau’s time here so we’ll have to keep an eye on his progress!
Let’s get some more deals done Jeff — go Houston Astros!
Garneau batted .244/.350/.407 coupled with three homers and 14 RBIs through 101 plate appearances in 35 games in 2019 with the Angels and the A’s.