The Houston Astros were about to make a move that could’ve cost Max Stassi his job by re-acquiring catcher Martin Maldonado. What went on? Let’s look.
Houston Astros fans — things are getting hot and heavy before the MLB trade deadline as we’re now less than two weeks to go before the proverbial D-Day for the league’s 30 franchises. Some will be buyers and some will be sellers but it’s good to know that our team will be on the buying side.
Obviously, we know that the Houston Astros are trying to do their utmost to bring in some quality, veteran pitching arms to help what has been quite a taxed, yet stressed rotation busting at the seams.
Earlier in the season, grabbing a quality left-handed reliever would’ve been enough but with the latest injury to Brad Peacock and some of our prospects not living up to the hype, the Houston Astros have a real problem and they need to seek starting pitching help.
Their fingerprints have been all in the rumors for the top pitching talent that could be available as in Matthew Boyd, Noah Syndergaard and Robbie Ray. Any of these three would make fine additions to the team but they’ll have to get in line because there is a ton of teams that would like their services as well.
So we’ve established that pitching is a need but could the Houston Astros have made a move at the catching position as well?
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Houston Astros had interest in bringing back Martin Maldonado and wanted to get a deal done with the Kansas City Royals. However, the Royals ended up making a deal with the Chicago Cubs, sending the Gold Glove winner to a terrific situation for him to thrive.
The Houston Astros wanted to bring him back during this past offseason but they couldn’t agree to terms. He ultimately signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Royals. That doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of money so I’m not sure as to why the Houston Astros couldn’t pay him that.
Maybe Maldonado wanted something that had longer contract terms which is something I know is not part of Jeff Luhnow’s modus operandi. You’re going to have to be an exceptional player like Jose Altuve or Alex Bregman to get those kinds of deals.
He cost-friendly salary made him a valuable asset and he ultimately was flipped for often-reliable pitcher Mike Montgomery.
This deal leads me to believe that the Royals were looking for immediate help, not some lower-level prospect that still needs grooming. It’s possible that this was the highest the team was going to go in terms of making an offer.
But let’s look at why this move was necessitated in the first place. Although Robinson Chirinos has performed admirably this season, he’s starting to cool off from his hot start.
Max Stassi is the backup but he hasn’t quite been what we were expecting him to this season.
He’s currently hitting .171/.241/.224 for a .465 OPS off three RBIs and 27 strikeouts through 76 at-bats in 26 games this season, which has been cut short by injury. It’s those type of numbers as a major-league ballplayer that put one in the “designate for assignment” category since Stassi is out of options to be sent down to the minor leagues.
Although Maldonado, 32, is hitting just .223 on the season, his defense has not wavered and he’s
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the same guy that the Houston Astros had the luxury of being able to afford last season.
He’s currently sitting on a 1.0 overall WAR and his defensive WAR is currently at a 1.3 which is good for third in the league. He’s also third among catchers in fielding percentage (.997) so it certainly makes up for his .646 OPS.
Regardless, I just wish the Houston Astros had signed Machete in the first place but we just don’t know the inner workings of how those negotiations went down. I presume there were no hard feelings, just the nuances of baseball business and I’m sure he’d love to return.
But that’s not the case — he’ll be helping out the Cubs try to contend for another World Series title.
Stassi’s situation is alarming so let’s keep our eyes out for further developments on him as they can certainly do better than what they’re getting from him.
Either that or they can call back up Garrett Stubbs if they just want to rid themselves of him but that’s asking too much out of a rookie catcher on a team that’s at the cusp of being a champion once again.
Let’s get something done — go Houston Astros!