Yankees Rumors: Free agent catcher Martin Maldonado makes sense
Now that the Yankees have signed their No. 1 offseason priority in Gerrit Cole, they’ve turned their attention to backup catcher, and it just so happens Cole’s personal backstop in Houston, Martin Maldonado, is a free agent.
In a recent interview, our own Jack O’Hara conducted with Jack Curry of the YES Network; the veteran analyst said that he doubted very much that the Yankees would re-sign Austin Romine to back up Gary Sanchez in 2020.
With reliable catchers becoming a commodity that many clubs lack, Romine may find more playing time and a far more lucrative deal elsewhere.
Therefore, the Yankees have at least kicked the tires on the possibility of signing 2017 AL Gold Glove winner Martin Maldonado, according to Mark Feinsand.
Maldonado, 33, was traded from the Cubs to the Astros on July 31 and ended up catching Gerrit Cole’s final 10 regular season starts. During those games, Cole pitched to a 1.57 ERA and .471 OPS while compiling a 114:11 K:BB ratio across 68.2 innings.
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The former Angels backstop also caught the majority of Cole’s postseason innings, resulting in a 1.72 ERA in five starts.
An excellent defensive catcher, the nine-year veteran, made $2.5 million last season, as compared to Romine, who took home $1.8 million in his final year of arbitration.
There is little debate that Romine, 31, is much more consistent with the bat, slashing .281/.310/.439 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs in 228 at-bats — as compared to Maldonado’s .213/.293/.378 with 12 homers and 28 RBIs in 333 at-bats last season.
However, Maldonado supplies enough power to justify a mediocre OBP (averages 14 homers per 162), grades out as a better defender, and if his signing helps Cole thrive in the Bronx, it’s a slam dunk.
Naturally, Maldonado, who will be looking to link on with his sixth big league team, could always hold out for a shot at a starting job himself. So his choosing will likely come down to the overall fit and subsequent dollar amount.
While the Yankees need Gary Sanchez to stay healthy to keep his lively bat in the middle of the lineup, The Kraken has never played more than 122 regular-season games during his five-year career. Thus, Maldonado might get more playing time with the Yanks than expected.