Today, the Houston Astros brought back catcher Martín Maldonado on a two year, $7 Million contract that runs through 2020 and 2021. Maldonado returns to the Astros after they traded for him at each of the last two trade deadlines. While last year he served as the Astros’s backup catcher, he will now get the opportunity to be the starter for a full season with the departure of Robinson Chirinos.
While Maldonado is hardly renowned for his bat, he’s regarded as one of the better defensive catchers in the game on the basis of his pitch framing skills, something the Astros value highly. Maldonado has been worth positive value in each season of his career on the sole basis of defense, and framing isn’t something that’s likely to deteriorate at the same rate as other skills. In 2020, Maldonado is projected to be worth around 1.2 WAR almost entirely due to framing, a respectable total for a catcher.
At age 33, the Astros still believe that Maldonado has a couple good defensive seasons left in him, and they’re paying a good price for a catcher that can frame consistently. After switching teams four times in the last two seasons, Maldonado may also benefit from staying on one team for a more extended period of time, especially since he has already spent time with the Astros in each of the last two years.