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Why I LOVE the Astros Vazquez Trade

The Astros startled a significant portion of the Astros fan base by doing what they deemed impossible. The Astros front office traded for a starting catcher that was as iconic to the team he was coming from as Maldonado was to them. The people that for months preached at me to trust the team at catcher were now having a fandom crisis. Would they trust the team's decision to upgrade at catcher or to hold on to their near cult like devotion to Maldy.

Most have chosen the later. This article is for you. Who is Christian Vazquez and why was this potentially THE most important move for the Astros chances to win the World Series.

On June 7th, I wrote an article that described I believed that the Astros NEEDED to trade for a viable starting catcher. At that time, I did not include Christian Vazquez as a trade candidate because on June 7th the Red Sox were 29-27 and they were in the third wildcard slot at the time.

In that article I listed my factors for finding a catcher for the Astros

  • have had >600 PA in their careers- Vazquez has 2526 PA

  • are a viable offensive threat- preferably 70+ wRC+ career-

    • 2022 Vazquez- 104 wRC+

    • Career Vazquez- 85 wRC+

  • are at least decent defensively (positive career Def WAR)- Vazquez 105.5 career defensive WAR

  • are on teams that are already projecting to NOT be in pursuit of a postseason appearance (teams with <0.440 winning pct- On 8/1 the Red Sox were 52-52 but they 3 GB in the wildcard standings.

  • are less than 33 years old- Vazquez will turn 32 on 8/21

  • have reasonable trade values- Vazquez 0.4

Therefore, Vazquez blows away most of my filters. He REALLY was the best catcher for the trade price demanded. The only thing was he became available LATE.

How does Vazquez compare to Maldonado?

Vazquez projects

- Hit 104 wRC+ for the season compared to Maldonado's projected 69. That in itself should be all you need to know.

- Deliver a total 1.6 WAR (Maldy 0.3)

- Deliver 7.3 defensive WAR (Maldy 7.8)

- Have +9 DRS (Maldy -5)

- Throw out 30% of potential base stealers (Maldy 25%)

On more defensive metrics Vazquez is currently better than Maldy

- rSZ- strike zones runs saved- Vazquez +1, Maldy -1

- rCERA- catcher ERA runs saved- Vazquez +2, Maldy -2

- rSB- Stolen Base runs saved- Vazquez +2, Maldy +1

-FRM- Framing metric- Vazquez -0.2, Maldy -2.3

If you are a reasonable person, it is OBVIOUS that Vazquez is a better catcher universally (offense, defense, running game) than Maldonado.

The website says that Astros overpaid for the rental Vazquez. Per their values, the Astros sent Wilyer Abreu (1.3) and IF Emmanuel Valdez (1.2) to the Red Sox and got Vazquez (0.4).

Yes, the Astros paid a premium. There were other teams reportedly after Vazquez too. This is somewhat the price of doing business at the trade deadline. BOTH of the players traded would have been required to be added to the 40-man roster or be exposed to the Rule 5 draft. It is debatable if both would have been left unprotected or a minor trade deal worked out for each. Given their Rule 5 status, the price for the Astros may not have been as high as shown.

As I show in how I would set the lineup here, I think Vazquez will quickly stabilize the bottom third of the Astros lineup and represent a viable threat to produce runs if he is allowed to play a majority of the games. As a side note Vazquez has started five games at 1B in 2022, so he does have limited position flexibility.

I expect Vazquez will test free agency after this season. Let's hope the Astros can convince him to stay and help mentor the strong wave of catchers on the horizon (Lee and Diaz.) With Maldonado's contract for 2023 about to vest, that may not be possible. Either way, Vazquez MIGHT be even more valuable for lineup stability than Mancini.

I give this deal an A.

Read about the Mancini Trade here

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