SURPRISE, Ariz. — Needing to plug a big hole behind the plate, the Kansas City Royals acquired catcher Humberto Quintero and outfielder Jason Bourgeois from the Houston Astros on Tuesday for minor league reliever Kevin Chapman and a player to be named.
The trade gives Kansas City much-needed help at an injury-depleted position and sends a young, power arm to the Astros as they build for the future.
Projected starter Salvador Perez had knee surgery last week and is not expected back before July, so the Royals had been exploring all avenues to add a catcher. They found one in Quintero, an established veteran known more for his defense than his bat during nine major league seasons with San Diego and Houston.
“We searched high and low for every potential available catcher because of what happened to us,” Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore said. “Quintero was the best available guy. We feel like he’s a solid catch-and-throw guy and can give us that experience and will work well with whomever ends up being our other catcher. We had to move forward and make a deal.”
In addition to Perez’s knee surgery, backup catcher Manny Pina also had knee surgery in February. Both were placed on the 60-day disabled list Tuesday, creating roster room for Quintero and Bourgeois.
Before the trade, Brayan Pena was the only healthy catcher in Royals camp who was on the 40-man big league roster. He batted .248 with three homers and 24 RBIs in 72 games last season.
The 32-year-old Quintero hit .240 with two home runs and 25 RBIs in 262 at-bats with Houston last season. Bourgeois, 30, batted .294 with 31 stolen bases in 93 games. He had one home run and 16 RBIs.
“Jason and Humberto were a big part of this team last year and both will be missed,” new Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “They are quality players and well-liked in Houston. This deal gives us an opportunity to add prospect depth and we are excited about both players coming our way.”
Top prospect Jason Castro is expected to start at catcher for the Astros, who also have veteran Chris Snyder in the mix. Castro was drafted 10th overall by Houston in 2008 out of Stanford.
Moore said the Royals like the versatility Bourgeois brings.
“He’s somebody who has been very successful against left-handed pitching (career .369 average). He can play all three outfield positions,” Moore said. “Center field is probably his best position. He can play some second and some third base.”
The 24-year-old Chapman, a fourth-round draft pick in 2010 out of Florida, is 2-5 with 11 saves and a 5.06 ERA in 54 minor league relief appearances. The hard-throwing lefty spent last season with Class-A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
“He’s a terrific left-handed pitcher who has got a chance to be a solid guy at the major league level,” Moore said. “Whenever we can make a deal to improve our major league team, it’s something we are obviously mandated to do. This gives us an opportunity to put a better major league team on the field opening day.”