The Angels have agreed to a swap with the Astros to acquire backstop Max Stassi, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). Stassi, 28, was pushed out of the picture in Houston when the club acquired backstop Martin Maldonado.
With Maldonado rejoining the fray in Houston, the 28-year-old Stassi was evidently made expendable. He’d already been struggling to justify his spot on the active roster, with an abysmal .446 OPS in 98 plate appearances for this year’s Astros. That said, Stassi has made his living not as a formidable offensive player, but for his value behind the plate. Per Statcast, he’s posted top-of-the-line framing numbers behind the plate, one of the most sought-after skills in a catcher. DRS credits him as saving 9 runs last season and 2 runs this year. For his career, he’s caught 24% of would-be base-stealers—not a great mark, but passable considering his framing skills.
In Anaheim, he’ll replace Dustin Garneau, who was designated for assignment earlier Wednesday. The Angels’ everyday catcher, Jonathan Lucroy, is slated to make his return from the injured list. Kevan Smith, who has enjoyed a solid offensive season by backup catcher standards, is also on the active roster, though he lags behind Stassi as a defensive catcher. Both Smith and Stassi are out of options, so it appears that the Halos will move forward with three catchers on the 25-man roster, at least for the time being.
In Rivas and Uceta, the Astros will in turn receive two teenage outfielders from the depths of the Los Angeles minor-league ranks. MLB Pipeline doesn’t view either as one of the Halos’ top 30 prospects, though at just 18 years old, these are far from finished products. Both Rivas and Uceta are playing in the Arizona League with the Angels’ rookie-ball affiliate. Uceta has posted a .278/.341/.373 batting line in 138 plate appearances at the level, while Rivas has batted .400/.512/.543 in 86 PA.