The story of the offseason has been the Astros sign-stealing allegations. The subplot is that the Astros do not have an everyday catcher with the departures of Robinson Chirinos and Marin Maldonado. Garrett Stubbs is ready, but many doubt that he will be good enough to be a regular catcher. With this in mind, the Astros did a little early Black Friday shopping on Tuesday morning.
Jake Kaplan reported that the Astros signed 32-year-old catcher Dustin Garneau. Yes. You have every right to say who? This is not your typical Astros move, searching for a guy and turn him into a superstar. The Astros are taking out an insurance policy if Stubbs is not ready to be the backup catcher.
The Astros have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent catcher Dustin Garneau, pending a physical, a source tells The Athletic.— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) November 26, 2019
Garneau is a journeyman catcher, playing between five teams in his career. Kaplan describes him as defense first type of catcher but showed some improvement last year between Angels and Oakland. This reminds me of when the Astros claimed Chris Herrmann off waivers to release him less than a month later last offseason.
The difference is Garneau will most likely be on the team as the backup with a 1-year deal. Stubbs has one option remaining, and Garneau is out of options. Unless Stubbs crushes it in spring training, Garneau will start the season like Erik Kratz did that one year, before Evan Gattis replaced him. Stubbs will play in AAA and be ready when the Astros decide to move on from Garneau. He is just another option, not the primary option.
Last year between two teams, Garneau batted .244 with three homers and an OPS of .757. After making his debut in 2015, he has only played in 123 MLB games. He’s a career .207 hitter with a .633 OPS, which probably makes Carlos Gomez gasp. His career OPS+ is 63, meaning this is not the catcher you are looking for. He’s a veteran to come in a battle Stubbs to play behind the starter, to be announced later.
What it is though, is the front office sending a signal to fans that they will be adding to the roster, despite the uncertainty surrounding them. The 40-man roster currently sits at 39 players with many holes in the roster.
Brandon and I will talk about it on tonight’s Talking Stros podcast.