The Astros started to replenish their options behind the plate on Friday after claiming Mariners catcher Chris Herrmann off waivers. Herrmann will join Max Stassi on the 40-man roster, as both Martín Maldonado and Brian McCann have officially entered free agency.
Herrmann, 30, picked up a minor league deal with the Mariners at the start of the 2018 season. He was called up from Triple-A Tacoma in late May and appeared in just 36 games with the team over the course of the year, during which he batted .237/.322/.421 with two home runs and a .743 OPS in 87 plate appearances. While he spent the majority of his 2018 campaign behind the dish, he’s proven fairly versatile in the past and logged time in the outfield as well as first base.
Per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, joining the Astros is a dream come true for the veteran backstop, who originally hails from Tomball, Texas. “I’ve always been an Astros fan since I was a little kid, watching Biggio, Bagwell, Berkman,” Herrmann told reporters on Friday. “Brad Ausmus was one of my favorite catchers; this is really cool.” McTaggart also notes that the Astros will continue to search for more catching depth this offseason, perhaps targeting the Marlins’ J.T. Realmuto or the Royals’ Salvador Perez. Pending the qualifying offer he received from the Dodgers on Friday, Yasmani Grandal may be another option, too.
On Friday evening, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced the first set of results for COVID-19 testing as part of the mandatory intake screening process under MLB’s COVID-19 Health Monitoring & Testing Plan. Per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Athletics are not part of this data because their testing has not yet been completed.
There were 38 positive tests, accounting for 1.2% of the 3,185 samples collected and tested. 31 of the 38 individuals who tested positive are players. 19 different teams had one or more individuals test positive.
Sports Illustrated’s Emma Baccellieri notes that the positive test rate in the U.S. nationally is 8.3 percent. The NBA’s positive test rate was 7.1 percent. MLB’s positive test rate is well below average. This doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong with MLB’s testing or that it’s an atypical round of testing. Rather, MLB’s testing population may more closely represent the U.S. population as a whole. Currently, because testing is still somewhat limited, those who have taken tests have tended to be those exhibiting symptoms or those who have been around others who have tested positive. If every single person in the U.S. took a test, the positive test rate would likely come in at a much lower number.
Several players who tested positive have given their consent for their identities to be made known. Those are: Delino DeShields (link), Brett Martin (link), Edward Colina, Nick Gordon, and Willians Astudillo (link). Additionally, Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodríguez has not shown up to Red Sox camp yet because he has been around someone who tested positive, per The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey.