AL Notes: Astros, Red Sox, Murphy, Tigers

MLB Trade Rumors

The Astros figure to add injured right-handers Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia back into their rotation mix in 2024, though The Athletic’s Chandler Rome notes that, with neither player expected to be ready for Opening Day next season, rookie right-handers J.P. France and Hunter Brown could have opportunities to crack the rotation again headed into Spring Training. The club figures to have Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, and Jose Urquidy locked into four spots in the rotation, but that would leave an opening for either France or Brown, with the possibility of both if the club decides to utilize a six-man rotation to open the season.

That being said, Rome also suggests other roles for France and Brown are possible next season. In addition to noting that the Astros would benefit from the addition of a veteran start who could provide “stability” to a rotation that suffered from uneven performances in 2023, Rome also puts forth that right-hander Spencer Arrighetti could factor into the club’s rotation mix as soon as the start of next season. Arighetti, the club’s #3 prospect and top pitching prospect per MLB Pipeline, posted a 4.40 ERA in 124 2/3 innings of work split between Double- and Triple-A in 2023, his age-23 campaign.

With so many possible moving pieces, it’s likely that both Brown and France will be used in roles beyond the starting rotation, at least at some point during the 2024 season. France, in particular, is suggested by Rome as a likely candidate for a swing role that would see him move both in and out of the club’s rotation mix as necessary throughout the year. Brown, on the other hand, seems to have a firmer grip on a potential rotation spot, though Rome adds that Brown’s struggles later in the season (including a 6.72 ERA in his final 18 appearances) highlighted the work Brown still has left to do before he can be the mid-rotation arm the Astros hope he can become.

More from the American League…

  • The Red Sox utilized a catching tandem of Connor Wong and Reese McGuire in 2023 to decent effect, with Wong in particular flashing quality glovework behind the plate as the club’s regular starter. Though MassLive’s Chris Cotillo indicates that an addition behind the plate isn’t a priority for Boston after adding top prospect Kyle Teel with their first-round pick in the 2023 draft, he does make note of the fact that Boston was aggressive in their attempts to upgrade behind the plate last offseason. Cotillo goes on to report that the Red Sox “made a serious run” at a trade with the Athletics to acquire All-Star catcher Sean Murphy, making what Cotillo describes as a “competitive” offer to the A’s before they ultimately settled on a three-team deal with the Braves and Brewers to send Murphy to Atlanta. The Red Sox were among the many known suitors for Murphy last offseason, though the A’s set their asking price rather high, with right-hander Brayan Bello’s name floated in the rumor mill as a potential return. That being said, Boston’s level of interest appears to have been greater than was initially reported, given the new information that Boston made a formal offer for Murphy’s services.
  • Although the Tigers have one clear big league catching option in Jake Rogers, Chris McCosky of The Detroit News suggests that finding a suitable backup for Rogers is a primary question for the club as they head into the offseason. While McCosky notes that the club holds a $3.5MM team option over Carson Kelly, he adds that there’s “no indication” as to whether or not the club will ultimately pick up that option. If Kelly is not retained, the club’s top options to back up Rogers internally would be Dillon Dingler and Donny Sands. Dingler enjoyed something of a breakout season at age 24 this year slashing .256/.361/.478 across three levels of the minors, though his .202/.266/.384 showing in 26 games at the Triple-A level left something to be desired. Sands, meanwhile, struggled to a .230/.318/.360 slash line alongside defensive struggles in limited action last season but has a solid offensive track record at Triple-A from his time with the Yankees and Phillies. Per McCosky, the decision on Kelly’s option could come down to the readiness of Dingler for a major league role in 2024.

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