With Jason Castro heading to free agency, the Astros face uncertainty behind the plate in 2017, as Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle writes. But the veteran catcher’s entry onto the open market doesn’t mean that he won’t end up back in Houston.
The return of Evan Gattis to some catching duties helps the situation, even if he’s still lacking some polish defensively, but he’s probably not a quasi-regular option as a backstop. And as Kaplan explains, the club’s other immediate possibilities — Max Stassi and Tyler Heineman — probably aren’t in line to be entrusted with a significant role.
Per GM Jeff Luhnow, a bid to re-sign Castro is definitely on the table as the offseason approaches. Explaining that Gattis will likely be a part of the mix, Luhnow went on to address Castro.
“The rest of [the catching] picture has to be fleshed out for us, but certainly Jason coming back is not something we’re going to rule out by any stretch,” he said. “I think there would be a strong desire from our side to try and bring him back.”
Luhnow spoke highly of Castro, noting that the 29-year-old’s slightly-below-average offensive output — a .209/.307/.378 slash and 11 home runs over 372 plate appearances — isn’t the only consideration. “He does a really good job of working with our pitchers, working with our coaching staff, and I think people forget sometimes the catcher is the field general, the person that’s running the show during the game,” Luhnow explained.
That being said, Houston figures to face plenty of competition for Castro’s services. He may not be the most exciting option imaginable, but he is a respected defender who delivers some pop from the left side of the plate. With Wilson Ramos felled by an ACL tear, and Francisco Cervelli previously re-upping with the Pirates, there’s a lot of demand and much less supply than had been anticipated.