The Los Angeles Angels have been looking for a long term fit at catcher since the departure of Bengie Molina nearly 10 years ago. Martin Maldonado was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers in the offseason for young catcher Jett Bandy.
Hank Conger, Drew Butera, Jeff Mathis, Chris Ianetta, John Buck, Carlos Perez, and Mike Napoli are just a few of the names that have seen multiple seasons of work behind home plate for the Angels in the last ten years. While Ianetta had some positive times, in the end the team has continued to look.
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Maldonado was actually drafted by the Angels. However, he was released by the team early in his professional career and ended up catching on with the Brewers. He played mostly as Jonathan Lucroy’s back-up the last several years. In his time in Milwaukee he provided adequate offense and spectacular defense, especially when dealing with base runners. Those trends have continued in 2017 with the Los Angeles Angels.
Maldonado has provided more offense than was expected. Along with his defensive skills, Maldonado’s offense helped precipitate Carlos Perez being sent down to Triple A where he can get regular playing time.
In 61 games played, he is hitting .257 with 5 HR and 17 RBI. While he does not walk a lot, he will strikeout some. At his current pace, Maldonado would catch approx 130 games, adding 12 HR and 42 RBI. Not earth shattering, but he has flirted with .275-.280 most of the season and provides the aforementioned defense.
Maldonado currently has caught 38% of would be base stealers. At this time, that amounts to catching 12 base runners compared to allowing 19 SB. If that rate holds, it means he would have shot at catching 30 base runners on the season. With just one error in 384 chances, he also possesses a sparkling .998 fielding percentage.
Overall Grade: B+. The Los Angeles Angels acquiring Maldonado was a move that I myself questioned when it happened. A player in the middle of their MLB career for a player at the start of theirs, at the same position. When Angels management said they also saw them as similar players and the Angels had originally drafted Maldonado before simply releasing him, I was very skeptical.
However, Maldonado has impressed. His penchant for the well timed back pick is also a lot of fun to watch. If his level of play continues over the remainder of the season he will not only earn that ‘A’, but he’s also be deserving of a nice two year deal with an option year.