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Astros Are Shopping for Catchers - What Deal Should They Make?



It is the rumor season. The Astros have been connected with at least two top Catchers- Willson Contreras and Sean Murphy. For example,


Mark Feinsand

@Feinsand

The Astros have emerged as a potential suitor for Sean Murphy, per source. Houston currently has Martin Maldonado as its catcher and has been connected to free agent Willson Contreras. Murphy, a former Gold Glove winner, is under club control through 2025.


Chandler Rome

@Chandler_Rome

Dusty Baker said the Astros will meet with Wilson Contreras and have interest.


Here is how these two project in 2023 and what their projected AAV is for the next three years.

Contreras is likely incrementally better offensively and Murphy is a significantly better defender.


The cost of a Contreras deal

  • $18-21M AAV payroll

  • Forfeiture of the second round draft pick

  • Forfeiture of $500,000 of international signing bonus


The cost of a Murphy deal

  • 51.3 Total Trade Value

  • Example of Astros players that would approach this trade value

  • Chas McCormick- 31.3- 4 years control

  • Yainer Diaz- 14.4- 6+ years control- #3 Fangraphs Astros Prospect

  • Colin Barber- 3.9- 6+ years control- #2 Fangraphs Astros Prospect

  • JP France- 2.0- 6+ years control- #33 Fangraphs Astros Prospect

  • Total package- 51.6

  • Modified package I proposed for this deal in the reader trade article

  • Luis Garcia- 45.6- 4 years control

  • Jake Meyers- 5.3- 5 years control

  • JP France- 2.0- 6+ years control- #33 Fangraphs Astros Prospect

  • Total package- 52.9

  • I assume the first package is the favored one for the Athletics

IF the Astros chose the Contreras package, I suspect they would also

  • As described in the Winter Meetings Article

  • Sign High Risk / High Reward Outfielder for One or Two Years- Brantley, Conforto, Bellinger

  • Trade for/ sign a LHRP- Taylor Hearn

  • Overall the cost of this would be $26-31M AAV

IF the Astros chose the Murphy package, I suspect they would also

  • Replace with McCormick by signing Bellinger- High Risk / High Reward CF

  • Sign High Risk / High Reward LF for One or Two Years-Brantley or Conforto

  • Trade for/ sign a LHRP- Taylor Hearn

  • Overall the cost of this would be $22-26M AAV

Plan Summaries

Contreras Plan

Murphy Plan

Catcher

Maldy 80 Games

Contreras 60-70 Games


Murphy 110 Games

Maldy 40 games

Left Field

Brantley/Conforto- 80 G

Alvarez- 80G

Brantley, Conforto- 100 G

Alvarez 40 G

Center Field

McCormick- 120 G

Meyers/ Others- 40 G

Bellinger- 120 G

Meyers/ Others- 40 G

Which should they do? I would lean to the Contreras plan so I would not have to give up the trade package. This is very close because the Murphy plan has more flexibility in the next few years.


Murphy would be the best answer at catcher but the package to get him makes the Murphy plan less favorable. Plus in the Murphy plan you are counting on signing two OF and not just one.


Let me be clear- I think the Astros are doing the right thing in focusing FIRST now at improving Catcher. It is THE most significant way to improve this team. I am excited to see what happens.


Let me know what you think.


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