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The Houston Astros could use an upgrade at catcher, and considering they have money to spend now that Carlos Correa is gone, could a Willson Contreras trade be brewing?
FanSided MLB writer Tim Boyle identified the Astros as a likely fit for Contreras in an article just a few days ago, outlining that Houston’s current options don’t quite have the same offensive upside that the Cubs backstop offers on a regular basis.
Martin Maldonado and Jason Castro are fine behind the plate, but both are destined for the bottom of the Houston lineup.
“An injury to either catcher makes this a more obvious move for Houston to make. Because they would have to DFA one of them, there is a roadblock already in place. Houston could always flip one of those catchers to a team in need of an upgrade as a backstop. Just because it may require another transaction doesn’t mean we should dismiss the possibility of MLB rumors linking the Astros to the best catcher available at this year’s trade deadline,” Boyle wrote.
For now, the Astros may be inclined not to make a drastic change to their backstop duo — but let’s play in hypotheticals.
Astros: A Willson Contreras trade that works for Cubs
Quite honestly, it doesn’t make sense for the Astros to pursue Contreras as anything more than a short-term commitment. If the Cubs expect top prospect capital for him as a long-term project, they would be wrong to do so in talks with Houston.
Why is this? Well, Houston’s top prospect is Korey Lee, a 23-year-old catcher. Investing long-term in a backstop like Contreras would all but guarantee Lee doesn’t get a chance at that position in the big leagues. If we’ve learned anything about Houston, it’s that they trust their development staff and farm system.
The Cubs don’t need catching help in return, as they sign Manny Piña this offseason.
Santos is the real gem of this deal. At just 20 and the No. 8 overall prospect in this system, he’ll be a fast riser in Chicago. Coming out of the draft in 2020, Santos was considered one of the best prep arms to ever come out of New York City. There’s a reason for that.
Manea can serve as a backup catcher in Chicago right away should they need him. At 26 years old and a top-20 prospect, perhaps there’s something more there. Endersby, meanwhile, is not a physically-imposing pitcher by any stretch of the imagination. At 24 years old in Double-A, he could get the call to the bigs this year or next.
On the surface it may seem like a lot, but keep in mind the Cubs will have several suitors for Contreras. In this scenario — where Houston has to bid on Contreras — they will have to give up some mid-tier prospects. It’s just the way of the baseball world.