When Jay wrote up the Martín Maldonado deal earlier, he called it “a minor move.” This deal, which sends Max Stassi to the Angels in exchange for minor-league outfielders Rainier Rivas and Raider Uceta, is the minor move attendant to that minor move.
With Maldonado in-house, the Astros simply didn’t have room for the 28-year-old Stassi, and so some sort of deal for his services was inevitable. This is that deal. Angels catching has been bad this year, what with Jonathan Lucroy out with a broken nose (and not playing terribly well before that), and Kevan Smith and Dustin Garneau, while pulling hard, not coming up with much but air against their oars. Smith, with his 105 wRC+, has been the bright spot, but he’s 31 and trending down in July after a strong May and June. Stassi isn’t anything to write home about with the bat either, but he’s got a good reputation with the glove and, unlike Lucroy, is under control until 2022. That’ll have to do until the Angels figure out how to develop a catcher (Jack Kruger, their best catching prospect, is still in Double-A).
Going back to Houston are two rookie-league outfielders: Rivas (18, in his second rookie league season and first stateside) and Uceta (18, ditto). Neither were listed among the Angels’ top 31 prospects, but Eric, who’s seen them in Arizona, reports both as big-bodied guys (particularly Uceta) with little physical projection and reasonably powerful bats. Uceta is unlikely to be able to stay in the outfield long-term, and Rivas is likely destined for a corner spot if he does. Both are about 35 FV organizational types. These are the kinds of prospects you get when you’re trying to trade for Max Stassi. They could make the majors, but they probably won’t, and if they will we probably won’t know about it for another year or two. At least the Angels still have Mike Trout.
Rian Watt is a contributor to FanGraphs based in Seattle. His work has appeared at Vice, Baseball Prospectus, The Athletic, FiveThirtyEight, and some other places too. By day, he works with communities around the world to end homelessness.
The Astros seem to really like big bodied guys and have had a great deal of success getting something out of them in the past, so, who knows.