With the trade deadline fast approaching and a second World Series title their foremost goal, the Houston Astros deepened their roster on Monday by acquiring utility man Trey Mancini from the Baltimore Orioles and catcher Christian Vazquez from Boston mere hours before they opened a three-game series against the visiting Red Sox.
Vazquez was in the starting lineup and was subsequently scratched before the Red Sox claimed a 3-2 decision in the series opener.
Selected by Boston in the ninth round of the 2008 draft, Vazquez played 698 games with the Red Sox following his debut on July 9, 2014, and was central to the 2018 World Series champions. Valdez has slashed .282/.327/.432 with eight homers and 42 RBIs this season and provides a quality, experienced companion to overworked Houston backstop Martin Maldonado.
Mancini, who missed the 2020 season winning his battle with colon cancer, posted a .268/.347/.404 slash line with 10 homers and 41 RBIs in what was his sixth season in Baltimore.
The Astros were looking to bolster production at first base and left field, with Yuli Gurriel struggling to reclaim his form from last season when he won the American League batting title and Michael Brantley sidelined by a shoulder injury.
"They're two guys that we're really excited about bringing in the organization and we think that they can help out the team this year," Astros general manager James Click said. "Our focus obviously is to try and put ourselves in the best position we can to compete for a World Series this year, and these are two guys we think can help us get there."
Right-hander Cristian Javier (6-6, 3.26 ERA) is the scheduled starter for the Astros on Tuesday.
After allowing one run on one hit and one walk with 27 strikeouts over consecutive starts against the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels, Javier is winless over his last four starts, going 0-3 with a 5.79 ERA and .873 opponent OPS. He has recorded no more than 15 outs in any of those appearances, including his start on Wednesday when he allowed three runs on five hits and one walk with six strikeouts over five innings in a 4-2 road loss to the Oakland Athletics.
Javier has one save and a 2.57 ERA in two career relief appearances against the Red Sox.
Rookie right-hander Kutter Crawford (2-3, 4.15) has the starting assignment for the Red Sox.
Crawford is winless over his last four starts, going 0-1 despite a 3.18 ERA and a .626 opponent OPS. He did not factor into the decision of the Red Sox's 4-2 win over the Cleveland Guardians on Thursday, having allowed one run on three hits with two strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. He has allowed more than three earned runs only once in six starts this season.
Crawford will make his first career appearance against the Astros.
The Red Sox, mired in last place in the AL East, were both sellers and buyers. While moving Vazquez to the Astros, they acquired fellow catcher Reese McGuire from the Chicago White Sox and outfielder Tommy Pham from the Cincinnati Reds.
Rumors continue to swirl regarding the availability of others on the current roster.
"When you have good players around the trade deadline, it's safe to say there's going to be interest," Red Sox president and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters. "We like these guys, but when you have talent, usually there's going to be interest in talent."
--Field Level Media