Jason Castro’s season-ending knee injury leaves the Astros with career-long backup Humberto Quintero and prospect bust J.R. Towles atop the catching depth chart, so not surprisingly Steve Campbell of the Houston Chronicle reports that they’re now looking to add a veteran backstop.
According to Campbell the Astros are already about $2 million over their $80 million budget for this season, but owner Drayton McLane indicated Sunday that he might be willing to re-open his wallet a bit for catching help should general manager Ed Wade find a reasonable trade.
Towles is still young enough to think that he might be able to take advantage of the situation to finally show that his solid minor-league numbers are for real, but catchers rumored to be available are Ryan Doumit of the Pirates, Jesus Flores of the Nationals, and unsigned free agent Bengie Molina. Doumit in particularl has been available all winter for any team willing to assume a big chunk of his $5.1 million salary.
Pirates right-hander Joe Musgrove is done for the year after suffering an abdominal wall muscle strain and stress reaction in his pelvic bone. While he isn’t expected to undergo surgery or miss additional time in 2019, he’s been prescribed six weeks of rest before resuming any baseball-related activities.
Musgrove, 25, finished out his third year in Pittsburgh with a 6-9 record in 19 starts, backed by a 4.06 ERA, 1.8 BB/9, and 7.8 SO/9. Despite logging a career-high 115 1/3 innings at the major league level, he’s also been dogged by a string of injuries, from the shoulder strain that robbed him of eight weeks at the start of the season to an index finger infection that kept him sidelined for a minimum 10-day stay on the disabled list in June.
While he works his way back up to full strength yet again, rookie right-hander Nick Kingham is expected to cover for him and will make a spot start during the Pirates’ series finale against the Brewers on Sunday. The 26-year-old righty hasn’t started a single game for the team since August 1, and currently carries a 4.69 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, and 8.1 SO/9 over 71 innings out of the rotation and bullpen.