The Astros are finalizing a one-year contract extension with catcher Martin Maldonado, reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (via Twitter). The new pact would also contain a vesting option for the 2023 season. Maldonado is a client of MVP Sports Group.
The 34-year-old Maldonado is in his second different stint with the Astros since they acquired him from the Angels for left-hander Patrick Sandoval leading up to the July 2018 trade deadline. Maldonado divided some of the next year between the Royals and Cubs, only to return to the Astros in a 2019 deal that sent infielder/outfielder Tony Kemp to Chicago. The Astros were impressed enough with Maldonado’s work that they prevented him from exiting in free agency with a two-year, $7MM guarantee.
Maldonado typically hasn’t offered much as a hitter, evidenced by his lifetime .217/.291/.352 line in 2,541 plate appearances, though he did put up a career-best .215/.350/.378 last year. Maldonado’s off to a dreadful .094/.121/.094 start with 15 strikeouts against one walk in 33 PA this season, but the Astros are willing to roll the dice for another year, no doubt owing in large part to the veteran’s history of well-regarded work behind the plate. Maldonado has earned extremely high lifetime marks from Baseball Prospectus’ Fielding Runs Above Average metric, piled up 75 Defensive Runs Saved and thrown out an easily above-average 36 percent of would-be base thieves since debuting with the Brewers in 2011.
Barring any behind-the-plate changes in Houston, it’s slated to bring back its two current catchers – Jason Castro is the other – in 2022. Castro inked a two-year, $5MM contract in free agency, though he has only taken seven trips to the plate this season. Of course, considering Maldonado and Castro for a cheap duo, the Astros could still seek an upgrade(s) in the coming months if Maldonado and Castro don’t produce to the club’s liking.