Before the 2015 season, Jeff Luhnow and the Astros made a big move to get Evan Gattis from the Braves. They did so with the idea that they would crush pitches into the Crawford Boxes on a regular basis as a DH. Then the Astros needed him to become a catcher, but they weren’t comfortable with Gattis catching regularly. Gattis became a designated hitter only option, who was surpassed by Tyler White in 2018. To prove this point, he started 76 games in the first half of the season, but only 30 in the second half, according to Baseball Reference.
He was limited to only four plate appearances in the playoffs in 2018. This situation was a huge role reversal from the 2017 playoffs, where he had 40 plate appearances. AJ Hinch was more comfortable with a platoon of Tony Kemp and White in 2018. Robinson Chirinos and Max Stassi should handle the catching load in 2019. They also want to find some at-bats for Kyle Tucker so they could use him as a DH.
Gattis wants to play for the Astros
According to Chandler Rome, Gattis said “various people from the Astros organization” have kept in contact with him. He would love to return to Houston, because they will be good for a while. He may want to return, but there is no spot on the roster open. If the Astros decide to carry 13 pitchers, they will have to choose between Jake Marisnick or Kemp. They added Michael Brantley and Aledmys Diaz this offseason. There is not any wiggle room.
Astros fans have soured on Gattis, as you can see with the Tweet above. Gattis still managed to hit 25 homers and drive in 76 runs, but fans remember those times he stranded runners in scoring position. Gattis is still only 32 years old. Someone will give him a chance to play this year. Should Reddick somehow get traded before the season starts, maybe that will open a door for Gattis.
Gattis will be missed
Gattis has been a big part of the Astros success for the past four seasons as they went to the playoffs three times. With so many young, affordable hitters in the pipeline, it doesn’t make sense to bring him back. Ironically, Gattis is one of several Astros free agents still on the market. Dallas Keuchel, Marwin Gonzalez, Martin Maldonado, and Tony Sipp all remain available.
In defense of the Astros, Hinch’s strategy is not to have a designated hitter to play every day. This strategy could be why they didn’t sign Nelson Cruz. To keep their stars fresh, they like to rotate them in as DH. White could offer similar stats to what Gattis could offer and can play first and third base. Best of luck to Gattis, but the Astros will rely on some cheaper options. Before you know it, Spring training will be rolling around.
All Stats from Baseball Reference