2022 MLB trade deadline: What trades did the Houston Astros make?
Going into the maelstrom of the trade deadline as perhaps the strongest team in baseball, the Astros had very few needs, and managed to fill them all
The Houston Astros have been a season-long favorite to get back to the World Series this season. Even if you didn’t pick them as your favorite, only a fool would discount a team that is substantially the same as last year’s runner-up, appearing in the Fall Classic in three of the last four outings.
Coming into the trade deadline, they were one of the strongest teams in baseball, second in record only to the Yankees, and having dominated the pinstripes in head-to-head competition. They had few real needs to fill, and it looks as if they have covered all of them.
One marquee signing for the Astros was picking up first baseman/designated hitter Trey Mancini from the Orioles. The result of a three-way deal with the Rays in the mix, Mancini addresses the need to find a big bat that is able to prop up their order, and his ability to play first or even left field if necessary takes some pressure off an Astros club that sees Yordan Álvarez coming back from injury and Michael Brantley out indefinitely.
Slashing .268/.347/.404 with 10 homers this year, Mancini can add real pepper from both sides of the plate in an Astros lineup that seems to focus more on contact than power.
Yuri Gurriel has struggled in 2022 and his offensive production has dropped significantly from last year’s World Series bid. With Mancini’s ability to play the corner or the outfield, there should be an uptick in runs scored at Minute Maid heading into the fall.
Another trade was a straight swap with the Atlanta Braves, sending Jake Odorizzi off for Will Smith. Not so much a need, as a calculated trade-off, both pitchers have similar numbers, but in a bullpen stacked with right-handers, Will Smith gives the Astros another reliever on the port side, always a trade worth making.
The biggest need by far in Houston was behind the plate. With With Martin Maldonado a solid hand at backstop, and a serious coaching element on the field, his .173/.238/.575 leaves a gaping hole in the lineup, while Jason Castro is, if anything, slightly worse. Slashing .115/.205/.384, rotating him and Maldonado meant that the Astros were accepting a gap in their offense, a gap that simply can’t be ignored going into the latter half of the season.
The Astros have taken this need and covered it by picking up Christian Vásquez from the Boston Red Sox. One of the top catchers on the trading block, he has a strong arm and a pop time of 1.92 from behind the plate. Most importantly, Vásquez can produce when he has the bat in his hand. Hitting so far this season .282/.327/.432 with eight homers and 42 RBIs in 84 games, he should be able to plug that offensive hole that the Astros have lived with up to now.
Houston are now poised to head into the back end of the season firing from all cylinders, making them a firm favorite in the AL pennant race.