After nixed Deadline deal, Astros plan to meet with Contreras

December 6th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- Astros manager Dusty Baker said during his media availability Monday afternoon at the Winter Meetings that the club plans to meet with free-agent catcher  after a deal to obtain the former Cubs backstop was nixed in July.

Contreras, 30, slashed .243/.349/.815 with 22 homers and 55 RBIs in 113 games last season with the Cubs. He’s played in 734 career games with Chicago since 2016 and made the All-Star team in 2018, ’19 and ’22. Contreras received a qualifying offer from the Cubs, meaning the Astros will forfeit a Draft pick if they sign him.

The Astros nearly landed Contreras prior to the Trade Deadline in July, but the deal was nixed by Houston management. Baker said he had concerns about Contreras learning the pitching staff in a short amount of time, though the Astros did eventually trade for catcher as a backup to .

“It’s not that I didn’t want him,” Baker said of Contreras. “It’s just at the time I didn’t think it was a proper fit with two months to go in the season. We’re going to talk to him and we have interest in him.”

Baker said he’s talked to former Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode and former Cubs pitcher Jon Lester about Contreras.

“Lester spent as much time with him in the bullpen, catching pitches,” Baker said. “And he’s a big Contreras fan. He told me he loved the kid.”

Meanwhile,’s Mark Feinsand reported the Astros have emerged as a potential suitor for catcher Sean Murphy, who’s being shopped by the Oakland A’s. Murphy, a 2021 Gold Glove winner, is under club control through 2025.

Maldonado started 109 games in the regular season for the Astros this year, as well as 11 of the team’s 13 postseason games. He played through a broken right hand late in the season and had surgery to repair a sports hernia shortly after the 2022 campaign was over. Jason Castro, who began the season as Maldonado’s backup, retired last week, and Vázquez is a free agent.

“As far as catching goes, Maldy’s been a longtime Astro that we love and have traded for twice,” assistant general manager Bill Firkus said. “Our pitching was amazing last year. He was a big part of that. We’ll continue to assess the opportunities. Even if we don’t do something there, we’ve got Maldy and some upper-level [Minor League] catching depth that we’re really excited about in Yanier [Díaz] and Korey [Lee] and Luke Berryhill and Cesar Salazar. So we feel like we’re in a good spot no matter what.”

Baker also said the club had interest in bringing back outfielder and first baseman , both of whom are free agents. Gurriel would have to agree to a utility role after the Astros signed to a three-year contract to play first base earlier this month. Brantley’s season ended on June 26 and he had shoulder surgery in August, so the Astros are taking a wait-and-see approach on his health.

Baker said Monday he would like slugger to play 65 to 70 percent of the time in left field next year while seeing time at designated hitter, where he started 88 games last season. Among the free-agent outfielders the Astros have also discussed are and .