Astros add reliever Maton, catcher for Straw

RHP joins newly acquired relievers Graveman, García and Montero in 'pen overhaul

July 31st, 2021

HOUSTON -- Astros general manager James Click completed a dramatic makeover of his bullpen just prior to Friday’s Trade Deadline by acquiring right-handed pitcher and Minor League catcher Yanier Díaz from the Indians in exchange for starting center fielder Myles Straw.

Earlier this week, the Astros acquired right-handers Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero from the Mariners and right-hander Yimi García from the Marlins, with Graveman and García considered strong additions. Now, Graveman, García and Maton will join All-Star closer Ryan Pressly and right-hander Cristian Javier as key weapons in manager Dusty Baker’s revamped bullpen.

To acquire Maton, the Astros traded away Straw, who was slashing .262/.339/.326 with 34 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in 98 games. That was a bit of a surprise, but it speaks to management’s belief that fourth outfielder Chas McCormick is ready to be an everyday player.


Houston gets: RHP Phil Maton, C Yainer Díaz
Cleveland gets: OF Myles Straw

“We felt like we needed one more weapon in the bullpen to really solidify things out there,” Click said. “I felt personally that Chas McCormick had done everything to earn a lot more playing time. He’s been exceptionally effective in the role he’s had so far, and we have a lot of confidence in him to step up and continue to contribute an everyday role.”

McCormick had made the most of his limited playing time, slashing .240/.305/.481 with 10 homers and 35 RBIs in 63 at-bats. While he doesn’t have Straw’s speed, he’ll bring a power element to center field that Straw didn’t have.

“It’s incredibly difficult to trade a player like Myles Straw -- the skillset he brings, his ability to change the game on defense and on the bases,” Click said. “It was a difficult decision to make, but this was about the ability to bring in a player like Maton and what he can do for us in the bullpen and also our confidence in Chas McCormick and Jake Meyers to continue the production we’ve seen in center field.”

Meyers, an outfielder at Triple-A Sugar Land, had his contract purchased Friday and will join the club on Saturday. He was slashing .343/.408/.598 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs in 68 games for Sugar Land. He has worked all over the outfield this year, with 16 games in left, 25 in center and 20 in right, and will be the fourth outfielder.

Baker had clearly preferred Straw over McCormick in center.

“I’m not the decision-maker,” Baker said. “Sometimes you have to do what the organization asks and sometimes you don’t have a choice. … We’re going to miss the speed of Straw. We already had limited speed, but quite a few bats. Hopefully, he can replace some of the speed of Straw.”

Maton, 28, has posted a 4.57 ERA in 38 appearances for the Indians this season. He has struck out 61 hitters in his 41 1/3 innings for a 13.28 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio, which ranks sixth in the American League. Maton has two years of team control after this year.

"Maton has gotten a lot of swing-and-miss and a lot of big outs in that bullpen and has shown the ability to pound the zone with stuff that results in some big outs,” Click said. “Beyond that, he’s a guy that comes highly recommended. I spoke to him earlier today and he’s excited to go out there and we look forward to slotting him in there.”

While several of Houston’s AL rivals added big-time names -- the Yankees added sluggers Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, the White Sox got closer Craig Kimbrel and the Red Sox got slugger Kyle Schwarber and reliever Hansel Robles -- the Astros feel good about their under-the-radar moves. The goal was to make a more reliable bridge from their starting pitchers to Pressly. Click believes they accomplished that.

"I think the moves that we made really shored up an area of our roster that we felt like needed a little bit of attention,” he said. “Again, I feel really good about our offense, I feel really good about starting pitching and I now feel really good about our bullpen. I think we have a very complete team. We weren’t focused on getting the biggest names; we were focused on getting the players we felt like would put is in the best position to compete for a World Series championship.”