Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette spoke with Astros GM Jeff Luhnow this past weekend “gauging whether there was a potential match” between the two clubs on a trade for a backup catcher, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports. The O’s are known to be looking for depth behind the plate with Matt Wieters on the DL, and Kubatko believes the Orioles could favor adding a right-handed hitting catcher to platoon with left-handed hitting Steve Clevenger.
Houston currently has catchers Jason Castro, Carlos Corporan and Max Stassi on its 40-man roster, with Stassi and Carlos Perez (both right-handed bats) at Triple-A. It seems unlikely that the O’s would make a move for an everyday catcher like Castro, though there is some uncertainly about how long Wieters will be out. The switch-hitting Corporan has only a .603 career OPS against southpaws and has mostly hit from the left side over his career, so he isn’t really a fit alongside Clevenger. Perez has some solid on-base numbers in the minors but he is pretty comparable to Caleb Joseph, the right-handed hitting catcher already on the Orioles’ roster.
This is just my speculation, but Stassi might be the most intriguing option for Baltimore, as the 23-year-old posted an .863 OPS in 323 Double-A plate appearances last year. The 2014 Baseball America Propsect Handbook ranked Stassi as the 12th-best prospect in the Astros’ system, noting that while Stassi has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, he has potential as an everyday starter in the bigs. There were rumors last winter that the Astros could clear a path for Stassi by trading Castro to one of several interested suitors. Adding a promising young catcher like Stassi could also give the O’s a future option should Wieters leave in free agency after the 2015 season.
Left-hander Troy Patton has been mentioned as possible trade bait for the Orioles, and Patton could help a Houston bullpen that ranks last in the majors with a 6.06 ERA. The southpaw was originally drafted by the Astros in 2004 (going to Baltimore as part of the Miguel Tejada trade package of 2007) and has a 3.06 ERA, 3.21 K/BB rate and a 7.1 K/9 in 139 career appearances, all but two of them coming out of the bullpen. Given Stassi’s potential, it may take more than just Patton to complete the trade if the Orioles indeed have the catcher in mind.