Astros interested in Nationals catcher Jesus Flores

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Jesus Flores seemed like a natural target for the Astros now that they’re pursuing catching help in the wake of Jason Castro’s season-ending injury and sure enough Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that they’re “looking at” Flores.

Any trade would likely be dependent on Flores showing that he’s healthy after missing nearly two years with significant shoulder problems and Ladson writes that the Astros are indeed “concerned about Flores’ right shoulder.”

Still, it makes sense, as Flores has lost “catcher of the future” status to Wilson Ramos and the Nationals also have Ivan Rodriguez around. And if healthy he has more upside than the other catchers that figure to be available between now and Opening Day.

However, it’s not quite a perfect fit because Flores is still just 26 years old and, even if he were to stay healthy and play well following a trade to the Astros, they’d almost surely remain committed to Castro as their long-term catcher.

Report: Rays sign Brandon Lowe to six-year, $24 million contract extension

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Rays and infielder Brandon Lowe have agreed on a six-year, $24 million contract extension. Lowe has just 58 days of service time, so this will cover his three years of pre-arbitration as well as three arbitration years.

Lowe, 24, earned a promotion to the majors in early August last year, playing mostly at second base but also logging time in both outfield corners. Through the end of the season, he hit .233/.324/.450 with six home runs and 25 RBI in 148 plate appearances. Lowe also performed well this spring, batting .359/.405/.692 with a pair of homers and 14 RBI in 39 at-bats.

MLB Pipeline rates lowe as the No. 10 prospect in the Rays’ system. He is in line to see regular starts at second base, but the Rays will certainly be keen to utilize his versatility throughout the year.