Astros general manager Dana Brown spoke to him. KPRC 2 Recent priorities for the club. Naturally, he listed the bullpen as a target position Phil Matton, Hector Nerys And Ryne Stanek He is set to become a free agent. He also said that the club is looking for a backup. Yanner DiazWho will be “next year’s main man”?
The Astros have been recruiting. Martin Maldodo As their main backstop in recent years, which certainly wasn’t due to his bat. Although he had a good showing at the plate during his shortened 2020 season, he hit .183/.260/.333 in 1,212 plate appearances over the past three years. That’s a wRC+ of 66, which means he was 34% worse than the league average hitter.
Despite that bad offense, he was a valuable member of the Astros during that time thanks to his glove work and his handling of the pitching staff. But his defensive numbers slipped a bit in 2023, which isn’t surprising since he’s now 37 years old. Now that his contract is up, the club seems to be planning to move on.
In the year Diaz’s emergence in 2023, a special year of triumph, was made easy. His 2.9 percent walk rate is pretty low, but he limited his strikeouts to 19.6 percent. Launched 23 home runs and posted a .282/.308/.538 line for a wRC+ of 127. Only among catchers with at least 350 plate appearances on the year. Sean Murphy He had a higher wRC+ mark, his 129 just two points ahead.
But for most of Maldonado’s day behind the plate, much of that production took place when Diaz wasn’t catching. He started 42 at catcher but also got 36 at designated hitter and seven at first base. It’s hard to get meaningful data from a small sample of work behind the plate, but for what it’s worth, Statcast likes the blocking and it works with the run game. However, every single one of Statcast, FanGraphs, and Baseball Prospectus rated his frame as subpar. Regardless of the details, his overall body of work has been solid and it makes sense that the club would want to give him the gig next year.
Diaz is only 25 so there may still be room to grow. He has just over a year left on his term, meaning he won’t be eligible for arbitration before the end of 2025 and isn’t set for free agency until 2028. The club will likely face some challenges transitioning from a respected veteran to a rookie. A very young catcher, but those concerns could be alleviated somewhat by bringing in a veteran to back up Diaz.
Maldonado may be that veteran, though it would be difficult for the club to bring him back and limit him to a part-time role. Other options on the free agent market include: Austin Hedges, Yasmani Grandel, Victor Caratini And Tucker Barnhart. The business market can include men Jacob Stallings The Marlins or Kyle Higashioka The Yankees.
As Brown noted, targeting bullpen help would be a logical move with Maton, Stanek and Neris heading to the open market. Neris actually has a player option and no decision has been officially reported, but it seems Brown is expecting him to decline. Nerys It wouldn’t be surprising if he posted a 1.71 ERA in 2023. He can’t maintain a .219 batting average on balls per game or a 90.5% strike rate, which is why his 3.83 FIP and 3.89 SIERA were over two runs. His ERA. However, he recorded 31 catches and two sacks while striking out 28.2% of the batters he faced. It’s a net $7.5MM decision, with the option at $8.5MM with a $1MM buyout. He probably won’t get his ERA under 2.00 again, but he should still be able to beat that guarantee on the open market.
Brown said some replacements could be internal, but they may also want to make some moves this summer. Josh Hader The maximum relief is available but there are also names Jordan Hicks, Matt Moore, Reynaldo Lopez, Robert Stephens And much more.
Financially, the club may be walking a treacherous line unless they want to break their own streak. Overall, they tried to stay under the competitive residual tax, which will have a $237MM threshold next year. According to Roster Resource’s calculations, the club is at 231mm for next year, although Neris opting out will be less than 225mm. Adding backup withholding and relief won’t necessarily break the bank, but it won’t leave much wiggle room if you want to stay under the tax again in 2024.