The Astros have struck a minor-league deal with catcher Juan Centeno, according to Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). He’ll join the MLB side of spring camp as part of the arrangement.
Centeno, who recently turned 27, was outrighted a month ago by the Twins. While the relationship didn’t continue with Minnesota, he got his first real look at the majors there in 2016. Previously, Centeno had seen action in three MLB seasons, but appeared in only 24 games.
Over 192 plate appearances with the Twins, Centeno slashed .261/.312/.392 — good for a 91 OPS+, which is just fine for a backstop. But he also rated as one of the game’s worst pitch framers, by measure of both StatCorner and Baseball Prospectus, which doubtlessly did not endear him to a new Minnesota front office that ended up signing catcher Jason Castro (one of the game’s best at earning strikes for his pitchers) away from Houston. (It’s fair to note that Minnesota did offer him a minors pact, per ESPN1500’s Darren Wolfson, via Twitter.)
Despite that solid showing at the plate, offensive expectations remain limited for Centeno, a long-time Mets farmhand who spent 2015 in the Brewers organization. In parts of four seasons at the highest level of the minors, after all, he has demonstrated good contact skills but also an utter absence of power. Over 681 Triple-A plate appearances, Centeno carries a .293/.333/.355 batting line with a pair of home runs.
For Houston, the move adds another plausible major league option to the organization. Brian McCann and Evan Gattis are expected to handle things at the MLB level, and youngsters Max Stassi and Tyler Heineman remain on hand, but Centeno will represent another experienced backstop to call upon if a need arises.