The Astros have discussed various trade scenarios involving center fielder Jake Meyers with other clubs over the past couple weeks, reports Jon Morosi of MLB Network. The 27-year-old is not yet arbitration-eligible and has four years of club control remaining. He’d be arb-eligible next offseason.
Meyers is nominally atop the Astros depth chart in center field, though he took on a more limited role late in the year as the Astros gave Yordan Alvarez and a healthy Michael Brantley more time in left field and pushed Chas McCormick into center field duty with greater regularity. All-Star Kyle Tucker, of course, has right field locked down in Houston.
Brantley’s potential departure in free agency thins out Houston’s outfield mix a bit, although the versatile Mauricio Dubon surely played his way into more reps in the outfield with a solid showing at the plate in 2023 — .278/.309/.411 — much of it at second base in lieu of Jose Altuve when the All-Star endured multiple IL stints. With Altuve back from the injured list, Dubon spent the bulk of his time in center field late in the season, splitting time there with McCormick.
Meyers impressed as a 25-year-old rookie in 2021, hitting .260/.323/.438 in 163 trips to the plate and showing off strong defensive skills, but his penchant for strikeouts was always a red flag. A shoulder injury suffered during the 2021 postseason ultimately required surgery to repair his labrum, and Meyers’ 2022 season at the plate was nightmarish, to say the least. In his first year back from that procedure, he tallied just 160 MLB plate appearances and batted .227/.269/.313. His 2023 campaign was better, but still not close to his 2021 levels. In 341 trips to the plate, Meyers hit .227/.296/.382.
To Meyers’ credit, he remains a stellar defender in the outfield, and his track record in the upper minors is excellent. In 1499 career innings patrolling center field, he’s been credited with 12 Defensive Runs Saved and 20 Outs Above Average. Statcast pegs his range in the 95th percentile of MLB outfielders and his sprint speed in the 92nd percentile of all MLB players. In 474 Triple-A plate appearances, he carries a stout .330/.407/.556 batting line. Even in the big leagues, where his overall offensive output is subpar, he’s hit lefties at a quality .270/.316/.444 clip.
At the very least, Meyers could have appeal to other teams as a platoon option in center field, with standout glovework and an above-average bat against left-handed pitching. And, at 27 years of age, he may still be young enough that other clubs feel he could tap into the offensive potential he’s displayed in Triple-A and emerge as a viable everyday option in center.
Even if Meyers is viewed as “only” a glove-first, fleet-footed fourth outfielder who’s best deployed in platoon situations, that should still hold value to other clubs — particularly with four years of club control remaining and a pre-arbitration salary that’ll clock in just slightly north of the league minimum next season. The Giants are seeking more range in their outfield, for instance. The Twins could welcome an affordable alternative to free agent Michael A. Taylor. The D-backs have an all left-handed outfield. The Rays are discussing Manuel Margot with other clubs — the Yankees and Mets among them — and Meyers offers a similar skill set at a fraction of the price.
While a massive return shouldn’t be expected in the event that the Astros do ultimately strike up a deal, Meyers’ speed, defense at a premium position, production against lefties and pre-arbitration status are all appealing to various degrees.