Astros Winter Meetings Update: Caratini In, Machete Out

Astros signing means Machete will not return.
Astros signing means Machete will not return. Photo by Eric Sauseda
The Astros have officially moved on from their starting catcher of four years by signing 30-year-old switch hitter Victor Caratini to back up youngster Yainer Diaz at cacher next season. Martin Maldonado was much maligned last season for being one of the worst everyday offensive players in baseball, but he has provided stellar defense and signal calling behind the dish for this team, as well as being a fan favorite.

Caratini comes over from the Brewers in mid career with a very solid bat and above average framing behind the plate. Coming in, he knows that he is the backup, which eliminates the issues that existed last season with the emergence of Diaz. Caratini has also played a little first base, which leaves open at least the option of spelling Jose Abreu on occasion. The fact that Caratini is a switch hitter with a better average from the left side also provides flexibility on the Astros bench.

In addition, it has been reported the Astros traded minor league pitcher Carlos Mateo to Kansas City for major league reliever Dylan Coleman. Coleman, a right-handed fastballer, is just 27 and still has two years of eligibility. While he pitched well in 2022, he struggled in 2023 spending time between the minors and the Royals, appearing in just 23 games. Control has been an issue for Coleman who throws in the upper 90s.

The team also announced the signing of lefty pitcher Brailyn Marquez to a minor-league deal and acquired a pair of right-handed pitchers, Railin Perez and Carlos Betancourt, in the Triple-A portion of Rule 5 draft on Wednesday.

What does all of this mean? For starters, this is a team that definitely wants to bolster its farm system, but doesn't want that to come at the expense of a major league club still trying to win another World Series. That doesn't mean that trades from surplus areas like the starting rotation couldn't happen, but more likely the Astros will work on a series of smaller moves that will limit the impact on the major league team, but add depth to a severely depleted minor league system.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke