In need of an experienced backup catcher, the Houston Astros should target veteran Matt Wieters to fill the role in 2021.
During the regular season last year, Martin Maldanado appeared in 78% of the games for the Houston Astros. In the playoffs he appeared in all thirteen games the Astros played, catching all but five innings. The Astros did not trust their backup signal callers, and the more Maldonado was used, the more he wore down. Bringing in a veteran who can share the workload a little more should be an offseason priority for general manager James Click. I hope he has a phone number for Matt Wieters.
There are very few “bat first” catchers on the market right now. The Astros should not be in the market for J.T. Realmuto or any other catcher (good, because after Realmuto there aren’t any) who is going to set them back a pretty penny this year. They need to be focusing on a guy who can be trusted behind the plate, and handle the bat if needed.
For the money the Astros are wanting to spend, Matt Wieters is the best option. Wieters spent the last two years backing up Yadier Molina in St. Louis, making $2M a year ago.
The former four-time All-Star is not the player he once was, though the former first round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles has some gas left in the tank and fits what the Astros need him to do.
With Maldanado set to hit free agency in his own right after this season, the Astros would be wise to bring in Wieters for one year, in what could be the last year this team competes for a championship.
With George Springer and Michael Brantley hitting free agency this year, and Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander, Carlos Correa, and Lance McCullers Jr. set to hit the open market next year, the window is definitely closing.
A year ago the Astros brought in Dustin Garneau to handle the backup duties, and he hit .158 in just 38 at-bats. Dusty Baker clearly didn’t trust him. Wieters didn’t have a great campaign himself, yet is just one year removed from hitting 11 home runs. He boasts the most career home runs of any free agent catcher available in free agency. Wieters has 15 games of postseason catching experience as well (15 more than Garneau had entering the playoffs last year).
The Astros could save a few dollars and sign Bryan Holladay or Tony Wolters, and they would be in the same anti-trust situation they were with Garneau. Sign Matt Wieters and relax when it’s time to give Maldonado a breather, you’ll be in good hands.