Astros claim Coste off waivers
Veteran catcher can also play corner-infield spots
HOUSTON -- The Astros claimed catcher Chris Coste off waivers from the Phillies on Friday. To make room for Coste, they optioned Matt Kata to Triple-A Round Rock after the club's 6-5 win over the Washington Nationals.
Coste, 36, had been designated for assignment to make room on the Philadelphia roster for outfielder Raul Ibanez, and he will report to Houston on Saturday.
Kata knew after the team picked up Coste it would be a possibility that he would be the one sent down. But even after preparing himself for the news, he was still disappointed.
"I've been in this situation before, but you're always disappointed. But I feel I've done some good things here, and I hope I'll be able to come back and help the team in the future," Kata said.
As a switch-hitter, Kata hit .182 with four RBIs in 33 at bats for the Astros this season.
Astros general manager Ed Wade said that Coste's versatility was a key factor in the acquisition.
"He can catch and play both corner-infield positions, but primarily it's a legitimate power bat off the bench for us," Wade said. "He had 20 or 21 home runs in about 600 career Major League at-bats. We just view him as another weapon, particularly in a close-game situation, when you get someone who can hit the ball into the Crawford Boxes, it's attractive. He's always played well in this ballpark, and I know him from the Philadelphia days and he has great makeup. I think he will be a good fit for us. It's not a big move, but it's a piece."
"We're going to have sit down and make a decision," manager Cecil Cooper said. "We'll have to sit down and talk about it. It will be difficult, because everybody here is contributing and the club's playing well and it's going to be a difficult choice."
Coste didn't make his Major League debut until the age of 33. In his fourth season with the Phillies, he hit .245 with eight doubles, two homers and eight RBIs in 45 games. During the Phillies' run to a World Series championship in 2008, Coste hit .263 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs in 98 games in the regular season. He started one World Series game against Tampa Bay.
In four big league seasons with Philadelphia, Coste hit .282 with 23 home runs, 42 doubles and 98 RBIs over 256 games, with 162 career starts behind the plate.
"The primary attraction is he's a bat with some pop off the bench that can run into one from the right side every once in a while and make things work," Wade said.
Coste shares the same hometown as Astros outfielder Darin Erstad. Both hail from Fargo, N.D., and Erstad said he and Coste used to be workout partner during the offseason in Fargo.
Cooper, who managed Coste in the Minor Leagues at Indianapolis, and Wade, as Phillies GM in 2004, are very familiar with Coste.
"Chris can do a few thing s for us," Cooper said. "He swings the bat well, he can catch and play first and play second and even some third. He's a guy that can help in a lot of ways, but mainly he's going to be a bit. We need a little more sock off the bench, and he brings that."
Coste is an author of two books, publishing his first book, "Hey ... I'm Just the Catcher: An Inside Look at a Northern League Season From Behind the Plate," in 1997 about his experiences in professional baseball and first few seasons in independent baseball leagues. In 2008, he wrote "The 33-Year Old Rookie," which follows Coste's long journey through the Minor Leagues, winter baseball and finally his rise to the big leagues.
Originally signed in 1998 as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Coste has bounced around six big league organizations, including the Pirates, Indians, Red Sox, Brewers and Brewers.
Jason Grodsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.