The Houston Astros still need additional left-handed bats and help at the catcher position. Addressing these two areas would help solidify the only remaining holes on the roster.
Signing Michael Brantley helps solve part of the equation, if he stays healthy. It’s a big “if” given his injury and age, but he’s a clubhouse favorite as well as a fan favorite. It makes sense why the Astros gambled on Brantley.
With few options on the free agent market and a trade market starting to heat up, could Houston pull the trigger on a trade?
The Astros would be a good trade partner with the Toronto Blue Jays given that Toronto had a surplus of catchers. However, they struck a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks who sent their top prospect, Gabriel Moreno, to Arizona for outfielder Daulton Warshaw.
Moreno has the talent to be a perennial All-Star and would help the Astros get younger. Alas, he is no longer an option.
Another potential trade partner in the Oakland Athletics sent catcher Sean Murphy to the Atlanta Braves in a three-team trade that included the Milwaukee Brewers.
One potential would be a trade for Kansas City Royals catcher MJ Melendez who currently sits behind veteran Salvador Perez. Melendez hit .217/.313/.393 with 18 home runs in 129 games this past season. He is only 24 years old, has a lot of team control and has established a pretty good offensive floor.
Perhaps less likely, but still potentially available, is Jonah Heim of the division rival Texas Rangers. The Rangers have a lot of catchers, and starting catcher Mitch Garver is ready to return and fully healthy this season.
Texas might want to move Haim, and the Astros could be primed to make a move for him, though it could be overpaying since the trade would be a rare cross-division trade.
After that it becomes quite thin. The catcher position is one of the thinnest in baseball and teams are tight-fisted with their productive players and prospects at the position.
As for left-handed bats, outfielder Alec Verdugo could be traded. He’s a left-handed bat with some pop and given the state of the Boston Red Sox, a trade is more than doable.
Verdugo slashed .280/.328/.405 with 11 home runs during the 2022 MLB season. He would be a nice upgrade to the lineup, but would come at a price. The Sox need a starting pitching position, so any deal almost certainly starts with the mention of Hunter Brown’s name.
Finally, Minnesota Twins outfielder Max Kepler could be of interest. The Twins just signed Joey Gallo, leaving open the possibility of moving Kepler. A left-handed bat, Kepler when healthy is a productive hitter. He’s only 29 years old and under contract for two more years at a relatively affordable price given his production.
There are several options on the market that could improve Houston’s roster. The question remains: are they willing to pay the acquisition price?
Or even better: do they even need it?
More from SI’s Inside The Astros:
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- Is it time to move on from the Houston Astros cheating scandal?
- Is there any hope for the aging Julie Gurriel?
- The Astros’ Alvarez stopped hitting and became the best hitter in baseball
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