The Padres have acquired righty Dan Straily from the Astros in exchange for veteran catcher Erik Kratz, the clubs have announced. Houston had been searching for another backstop after losing presumed reserve Max Stassi to injury.
Straily, 27, is out of options and did not appear in line for a rotation job with the Astros. He was, however, competing for a spot in the Houston pen. It’s certainly possible he could function in either capacity with the Padres.
It’s been something of an uphill battle for Straily since a promising 2013 season with the Athletics, in which he threw 152 1/3 innings and compiled a 3.96 ERA with 7.3 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9. He’s only made 18 appearances (seven from the pen) since that time, with his earned run average ballooning to 6.42. He’s still young and controllable, but he’s also bounced from the A’s to the Cubs to the ’Stros as a small part of more significant trades.
Meanwhile, San Diego has been rumored to be shopping its catching depth for longer than Houston has even had a need. Derek Norris, Christian Bethancourt, and Austin Hedges look like the top three options for the Padres. Rocky Gale remains in camp, too. More than likely, Kratz — who had a minor league deal with San Diego — wasn’t cracking the MLB roster anytime soon.
The veteran Kratz looks like a true stop-gap for Houston, while the club awaits the return of Stassi. The 35-year-old has spent time in the majors in parts of the last six seasons. He was most active over 2012-13 with the Phillies, and also topped 100 plate appearances in total in 2014, but last year he played in only 16 major league games.
All told, Kratz owns a .218/.270/.397 slash with 23 home runs in 560 MLB plate appearances. That’s quite an impressive power outlay, and Kratz owns an excellent .266/.343/.473 line in his Triple-A career. (That’s not a short sample, either: he’s seen action in ten seasons, and has 1,820 plate appearances on his ledger.)
Of course, striking this deal doesn’t necessarily preclude the Astros from searching for a more significant catching addition, though that seems increasingly unlikely — particularly since the club announced that it has added Kratz to its 40-man roster. Likewise, the Pads could still conceivably deal one of their other backstops. It’s worth noting, too, that adding Straily would help ease the burden if San Diego were to find a trade partner for James Shields, though his presence hardly changes the calculus of such a significant move.
Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle first reported the swap on Twitter, noting that Straily was going and a catcher was involved. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Kratz was involved, on Twitter.