The addition of Robinson Chirinos on a one-year, $5.75MM contract won’t stop the Astros from pursuing additional help behind the plate, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, but president of baseball ops Jeff Luhnow did suggest that the team is comfortable moving forward with Chirinos and Max Stassi in the event that a further opportunity doesn’t come along at a palatable price. “We certainly feel good about going into the season with Stassi and Chirinos as our catchers,” said Luhnow. “We’ve got [Garrett] Stubbs in the Minor Leagues and other players as well. It doesn’t mean we won’t take advantage of the opportunity if one presents itself as a way to get better, but right now we feel comfortable with the group we have.” Houston stands out as a logical fit for Marlins star J.T. Realmuto or the Pirates’ Francisco Cervelli on the trade market, while the reps for free agents Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos have presumably reached out to the ’Stros as well. The Astros have often carried three catching options in the past, so it shouldn’t be ruled out that they’d do so in 2019.
Here’s more from the division…
- Athletics general manager David Forst told reporters Friday that the team planned to explore both trades and free agency in its search for rotation upgrades (Twitter links via Jane Lee of MLB.com). There’s no preference between the two, it seems, as Forst indicated that the A’s are “dipping into” both markets “equally.” Regarding the club’s second base situation, while there’s been talk of a new contract for Jed Lowrie since this summer, Forst suggests that there’s no clear direction on how they’ll address the position just yet. Oakland is still having internal discussions about adding a second baseman, giving the job to prospect Franklin Barreto or finding a platoon partner for the 22-year-old Barreto, per Forst. Barreto, who hit .259/.357/.514 with 18 homers in 333 plate appearances with Triple-A Nashville in 2018, is considered to be among Oakland’s best prospects. He’s managed just a .252 OBP in the Majors to this point in his career, but that’s come at a young age and in a tiny sample of 151 PAs.
- Many Angels fans were displeased to see the Angels swap out lefty Jose Alvarez for right-hander Luis Garcia in a one-for-one trade last night, given Garcia’s 6.07 ERA with the Phillies in 2018. As GM Billy Eppler explains to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange Country Register, though, the Angels (obviously) paid little heed to Garcia’s ERA and instead bet on the right-hander’s velocity, ground-ball tendencies and other characteristics they found appealing. “He has the characteristics we gravitate to: strikeouts, ground balls and big stuff,” says Eppler of his new right-hander. “… He provides us another power look out of the bullpen to complement Ty Buttrey, Hansel Robles, Justin Anderson and Keynan Middleton (after he comes back from Tommy John surgery) sometime in the middle of 2019. You have a fairly high-octane bullpen that can miss a bunch of bats.”
- The Rangers’ payroll will likely wind up in the $120MM range for the coming season, writes Jeff Wilson of the Fort-Worth Star Telegram. Texas currently projects at a payroll of just under $106MM, which should give them a bit of room to spend should they find some deals to their liking. However, Wilson quotes GM Jon Daniels as saying: “This is not the year where we are going to go all out. We are probably a year away from starting to look at some different options for expanding the payroll.” Daniels plainly states that the Rangers weren’t in on either Patrick Corbin or Nathan Eovaldi in free agency. Wilson suggests that Texas will still look at adding some pitchers — but likely more along the contractual lines of Mike Minor’s three-year, $28MM contract from last offseason than any kind of top-of-the-market addition.