Jason Castro is the current Astros starter. The 28-year-old left-handed hitter hit just .211 last season with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs. He is a pretty good defender and a 2013 all-star, but he hasn’t hit with the same consistency since then and has had major issues at the plate. The Astros are clearly concerned about his future.
The team’s backup catcher coming into camp was Max Stassi, but he fractured the hamate bone on his wrist and is out at least six weeks. The only other catcher the Astros have on their 40-man roster is Alfredo Gonzalez. He is 23 years old and hasn’t played more than 32 games at the Double-A level. Evan Gattis is a catcher, but he is returning from sports hernia surgery and isn’t known for his defense either. The Astros plain and simply need catching help.
There sits the Padres with three catchers that are more than capable major league receivers. The Astros have the need and the Padres have the product. A deal could be worked out but what would the Padres want in return? And would the Astros pay the price?
The obvious player the Padres would drool over is A.J. Reed. The slugging first baseman has been unreal since his senior year in college where he was named the player of the year. In 523 at-bats last season Reed hit 34 home runs drove in 127 runs and had on-base percentage of .432. The 22-year-old left-handed hitter and thrower has huge upside with the bat and projects to be an offensive force at first base for years to come.
The Astros certainly love Reed, but they realize he is not yet major league ready. The team also has big left-handed hitting Jon Singelton in front of Reed on the depth chart. Singelton has great power but has struggled in his two appearances in the major leagues. The 24-year-old has some problems with his swing that have not yet been rectified. If he can make the proper adjustments, he could be a great player. That’s a huge “if”, though. Singleton might be of interest to the Padres, but the first base position is already spoken for. Wil Myers seems comfortable there and although the Padres desperately need left-handed power, the team isn’t likely to acquire either Reed or Singleton.
Colin Moran is a solid option for the Padres. The left-handed hitting third baseman is just about major league ready. He hit .306 last season in Triple-A while hitting nine home runs and driving in 67 runs. He is described as a line drive hitter with gap power. Moran is the nephew of B.J. Surhoff and Rich Surhoff and his brother Brian Moran pitches in the Indians organization. The 23-year-old needs a little work defensively and is very slow but might become a decent third baseman one day.
Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick is someone the Padres have reportedly asked the Astros for in the past. Right now Marisnick projects as the Astros fourth outfielder, and could be attained but the Padres outfield is already crowded. Marisnick is a great defender and a right-handed hitter. He is a solid but unspectacular player. It is not clear if the Padres have anymore interest at this point. The Padres have a lot of young talent in the outfield. Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Travis Jankowski, Michael Gettys and Alex Dickerson are all young and in the upper minor league system. The Padres probably aren’t looking for an outfielder at the moment unless they were able to move the contracts of Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton Jr. That is not a likely scenario at all.
Jandel Gustave is a familiar name to Padres fans. He spent some time with the Padres last season after being acquired via the Rule-5 draft. Ultimately he was sent back to the Astros, but he left a decent impression on the Padres and they could be interested in acquiring him. Last season he went 5-2 with a 2.15 ERA in 58 innings pitched. Gustave is a decent little pitching prospect, but the Padres would command much more for Norris than him.
Pitchers Joe Musgrove and James Hoyt make intriguing options as well. Hoyt has some interesting local ties including pitching amateur baseball in the area. He is 29, but has had impressive numbers in the minor leagues. Musgrove is a promising young 23-year-old. He could be either a mid-rotation starter or a solid option in the back of the bullpen. The right-handed pitcher is one of the Astros top pitching prospects and the team will likely hold him in very high regard.
Another potential option for the Padres is Tony Kemp. No relation to the Padres outfielder. The versatile infielder and outfielder projects as a solid utility man or even a scrappy starting second baseman. The problem is he is blocked at second base currently by Jose Altuve. He has played some outfield in recent seasons, but is clearly a better infielder.
Kemp has great speed. He swiped 35 bags last season while hitting .308 with three home runs and 48 RBIs. The small (5′ 6″) left-handed hitter is 24 and spent a productive half season last year in Triple-A. He is just about major league ready and could be a useful hitter on the top of the order. He draws walks and makes consistent contact and that is something new Padres manager Andy Green likes. He has a great idea of his ability and plays the game with a lot of intensity and self-awareness. He would be a nice addition to the Padres team.
Norris has a lot of value and the Padres are not going to make a trade just for the sake of doing it. If the Astros are willing to move Reed, then the Padres would be forced to listen. Acquiring him would ultimately effect Wil Myers, but he is a top-level prospect. Norris and a few key pieces might get a deal done, but again the Astros would have to be enticed greatly. On a lesser note Kemp, Moran and Mosgrove/Gustave might just be enough for Norris for the Padres. Friar fans would be outraged if the team dealt Norris for a package of prospects, but it is what it is. Hedges seems capable of stepping up to play the position and as a team you have to trade from a position of strength.