The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan takes a look at the Astros’ depth chart for the upcoming season, highlighting a few minor areas the club could look to pursue depth. With top prospect Jeremy Pena currently atop the depth chart at shortstop and Aledmys Diaz slated to back up at all four infield positions, Kaplan suggests an additional shortstop candidate — ideally one with a minor league option remaining — would be a prudent addition. Obviously, the whole situation would change in the event that the ’Stros re-sign Carlos Correa or pivot by inking fellow free agent Trevor Story. There aren’t too many free-agent options available in that bucket, but that’s the sort of player who can be found in a smaller-scale trade or on the waiver wire as teams make cuts amid the forthcoming flurry of transactions.
Kaplan also raises the “wild card” possibility of the Astros adding another corner outfielder (thus moving Kyle Tucker to center field) and suggests that if there’s one area from which the Astros are likely to trade in order to address other deficiencies, it’d be from their enviable starting pitching depth. (MLBTR listed veteran righty Jake Odorizzi among our likeliest trade candidates last week.) It’s a solid, broad-reaching look at where the Houston roster stands and how the team might attack some depth needs post-lockout, and ’Stros fans in particular will want to take a full read-through.
Here’s a few more notes from the division…
- While the Rangers are likely to give Adolis Garcia the starting nod in center field again in 2022, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News suggests that there’s enough uncertainty that the club could pursue additional depth in the outfield. Seiya Suzuki has been connected to Texas, of course, but even absent a big splash like Suzuki or Michael Conforto, smaller-scale outfield additions seem plausible. Specifically, someone capable of playing center and also handling left field would be of intrigue, Grant notes. Garcia got out to a blistering start but cratered with a .219/.266/.386 slash from July 1 onward (334 plate appearances). Meanwhile, backup option Eli White is recovering from elbow surgery, while top prospect Leodys Taveras has yet to hit in the big leagues. Over in left field, Willie Calhoun has not yet proven himself capable of consistently hitting MLB pitching or remaining healthy. Speculatively, names like Kevin Pillar, Jake Marisnick and Jarrod Dyson could all fit the billing described by Grant, though there’s little reason to discount the possibility of Texas making a bigger splash, given their pre-lockout levels of aggression.
- In running through some of the minor league free agents already brought aboard by the Athletics this winter, Melissa Lockard of The Athletic suggests that the A’s probably aren’t done adding catching help. Twenty-eight-year-old Austin Allen received only eight plate appearances despite a robust .317/.351/.584 slash in 299 trips to the plate at the Triple-A level. The A’s instead gave 94 plate appearances to light-hitting Aramis Garcia and acquired veteran Yan Gomes at the trade deadline as a second catcher to pair with young backstop Sean Murphy. Neither Garcia nor Gomes is with the organization anymore, and the top option in Triple-A at the moment is journeyman Christian Bethancourt. Catching depth, then, indeed figures to be an area of focus for the A’s — be it via minor league free agency, the waiver wire or perhaps as part of the return in some of the trades they’re widely expected to execute when transactions resume.
Cristian Javier for Nick Maton, Luks Garcia, and Ethan Lindow
how bad is Austin Allen behind the plate. he’s always mashed, seems like he deserves a chance to hit at the highest level
Career batting – .212 AVG .261 OBP .317 SLG .577 OPS -0.2 WAR
career catching – 2 errors in 35 games, 0 DRS, below average poptime, average framing
Small sample size in the majors. He’s hit very well in the minors for a catcher.
The reports on him as a Padres prospect were always basically that he could hit, but his ability to catch was so fringy and that he might actually end up a 1B/DH which made the bat less attractive. I think part of the concern was physically he’s so big that it makes it harder for him to catch, but that’s also where his power comes from.
The main defensive issue that I recall is that runners are able to steal on him at will pretty much. I do think someone needs to give the bat an extended look though.
If the Rangers do not land Suzuki or Schwarber next line of free agents would be Rosario, Pederson, or C. Dickerson. I could also see a trade for Austin Meadows out of TB or Santander from Baltimore. Maybe a trade for D Smith from the Mets.
Can’t put my finger on it, but I think the O’s are going to hang onto Santander.
You won’t be very happy with Smith as a starting OFr. He doesn’t belong anywhere but first base.
Allen & Murphy seems to be an ok pair to open the season for the big league club with Bethancourt on the farm. I don’t see where any of the other free agent catchers would be of any help. Do the A’s have any upcoming catchers in the minors???
McCann is a backup in AA, maybe next year?
Tyler Soderstrom’s glove has developed and he’ll be replacing Murphy by 2025.
I’d bet $20 they just sign Kurt Suzuki to an “old fan favorite” cheap single-year deal.
It would be nice if some team other than Houston won the AL West this season. That means you, Seattle.
Won’t be a team within 5 games of them.
Jjd002- the rebuilding M’s finished 5g behind them in 2021! Despite losing half their 6 man rotation and having to use 63 players due to injuries etc.
if Opening Day started today, meaning, if HOU’s AL West rivals do not add any talent from trades or FA to their rosters I would say your statement is a pretty safe bet. Especially if Verlander can ‘pick up where he left off,’ or at the very least have a good second half run.
However If the M’s and LAA continue to add to their rosters this yr I think either one of them has a very real chance of being right there with them. Texas is getting closer but their pitching needs more improvement.
I’m sure you’ve heard Seattle is looking to add two “impact bats” (for ex: T Story and M Chapman.) They’re also reportedly seeking another SP (say Chris Bassitt, Sonny Gray, maybe even Luis Castillo,) to go with recent addition Robbie Ray. – If Seattle adds any one of those 3 SP’s the M’s might have the best Rotation in that Division. Not to mention 2-3 of their best pitching prospects ready to provide depth should they find themselves in a playoff run. Ken Giles will provide length to a BP that already has 3 closers in Sewald Steckenrider and D Castillo.
If LAA adds another bat to a lineup that already has a healthy Trout, Ohtani, Walsh and Rendon- who knows, maybe this will finally be their year?
Then again, if yer Grannie had wheels she’d be a bicycle
Good points, but the Astros were hardly injury free themselves. Part of the M’s ’21 story was their winning 2/3 of one run games. The M’s are the only team that contends this season with Houston because of pitching. But unless there is improvement offensively, I don’t think they’ll catch them this season. The Angels and the Rangers still have the same issue as past seasons-pitching. We’ll have to wait and see on who adds what, including the Astros, even though you don’t mention them as possibly adding any pieces.
If the Mariners add a Zack Grienke and another power bat they can take the Astros
Agree to disagree.
steven st croix
Houston win the West by 8 games.
The Astros and Dodgers of this era are basically the same. They both have three World Series appearances but only one (tainted) title.
Odorizzi is NOT happy. It’d be wise to trade him asap before more disgruntlement
IKF and J.King for Odorizzi and McCormick or Siri, does that work for Stros
Love the A’s but no org is historically worse at developing minor league position players than them.
2022 AL West-