Astros may make Jason Castro available

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Catcher Jason Castro was the Astros’ most productive player throughout the 2013 season but they may make him available in a trade depending on the development of catching prospect Max Stassi and their ability to sign Castro to a contract extension, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Castro, 26, is eligible for arbitration for the first time and can become a free agent after the 2016 season.

In his first full season in the big leagues, Castro finished 2013 with a .276/.350/.485 line and was the fourth-most valuable catcher in baseball according to FanGraphs WAR (min. 400 plate appearances).

Stassi, who turns 23 in March, moved up to Double-A for the first time and enjoyed a lot of success. In 323 plate appearances with Corpus Christi, he posted an .863 OPS with 17 home runs. He is also highly regarded for his ability to play defense. If Stassi continues to progress rapidly and the Astros are able to sign Castro to an extension, Rosenthal suggests the Astros may move Castro to first base.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.