The LA Angels fleece Houston Astros in Maldonado trade

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 12: Mike Trout #27 and Martin Maldonado #12 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim celebrate defeating the Seattle Mariners 11-2 in a game at Angel Stadium on July 12, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 12: Mike Trout #27 and Martin Maldonado #12 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim celebrate defeating the Seattle Mariners 11-2 in a game at Angel Stadium on July 12, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The LA Angels have traded catcher Martin Maldonado, 2017 Gold Glove recipient, to inter-division rivals the Houston Astros. In return the Angels are receiving lefty starter prospect Patrick Sandoval and cash. While it may seem the Angels have strengthened the Astros and lost serious talent to boot, the truth couldn’t be any further.

Yes, it’s true that the Astros have greatly added to their strength by acquiring Martin Maldonado from the LA Angels. However, the real story here is how the Angels have pulled near highway robbery on the Astros. The Astros are in line for another World Series run and with this move they’ve taken another step towards that ultimate goal; Martin Maldonado is one of the better defensive catchers in the league and having him catch for their starting rotation is going to elevate their ability as a team in a huge way. To add to that, his caught stealing percentage is at a career high, standing at 44%, though his passed balls sit at a career high as well, Maldonado having 10 on the year.

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But none of that really matters, despite all of his over arching strengths the truth is Maldonado is set for Free Agency after this season. The Angels aren’t trading away much since he isn’t a guaranteed return to either the Angels or the Astros. What this also means is that Angels rookie catcher Jose Briceno proved himself in the eyes of Scioscia and Eppler during his recent time with the Angels.

Briceno has made 4 appearances in the 5 days, his most in the same span with the Angels, and by all accounts seems set and ready to go. His batting is holding up at .261, although his OBP needs work as it sits at .277. However, Maldonado had about the same OBP, sitting at .284 on the season, and on top of that Briceno drives the ball better, his slugging being at .413 next to Maldonados .332.

Aside from the fact that the Angels traded one of the top defensive catchers in the league, Martin Maldonado, to the Astros, the fact stands that they’re only losing two months of his service to the Astros. The Astros scored big time in this trade, especially if they win another World Series, and that’s precisely the weak point in which the Angels were able to strike. The Astros are intent on winning again, and since they have a wealth of talent in their system the Angels were able to take advantage of the Astros success and fleece them for the talented lefty starter Patrick Sandoval.

Sandoval has spent the 2018 season dominating A and A+ ball within the Astros organization. In A ball Sandoval threw 65 innings in 10 starts and a few scattered relief appearances,all in all collecting an ERA of 2.49. Sandoval saw a promotion to Class A Advanced in June, and so far has thrown 23 innings while maintaining a 2.74 ERA. At the age of 21, Sandoval is pitching in his 4th season, and throughout the current season has held an ERA of 2.56 with 13 total starts and two saves while allowing only 5 HR’s in 88 IP.

It makes a lot of sense that someone with that wild of a strikeout ability would come from the Houston Astros organization. Even better on the Angels for tricking their inter-divisional rivals into sending one of their top young talents for a two month rental; and the best part of it is the Astros set themselves up for this. They wanted to win another World Series, rightly so, and took it upon themselves to snatch up one of the best defensive catchers in Martin Maldonado. They added not only his defense, but his over-the-top ability to call a game, to the stock of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and the like, it’s easy to see this move as a huge step towards that goal.

Regardless of what team you root for, the Angels made a big power move here. The Astros were simply baited into sending top-level starting pitching talent in Patrick Sandoval for a two month rental in Martin Maldonado. If the Astros end up winning the World Series that’s fantastic for them, but at the end of the day when you take away each teams ultimate end goal and look at the trade from a black and white perspective the picture becomes far clearer.

One team has sent away a highly regarded MLB catcher with two months left on his contract, and one team has sent away a quickly developing 21-year-old left-handed starter with years of control who is also not far off from the MLB.

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On that note you can see, the Angels aren’t just winners in this trade, they’ve shown something we’ve all needed to see from this organization for a long time. They showed organizational strength, the Angels being able to steal talent from an inter-divisional rival with the Astros being drunk on success. On top of that Billy Eppler might see himself essentially sealing his own contract status with the Angels after this season, given he’s further solidified the future of the team in a big way.

Eppler has done a lot for this team; pulling amazing draft picks like Jo Adell into the system on top of his fantastic 2018 draftees, and now we have this trickery being played in over favor thanks to Eppler. The Angels present 2018 may not be looking too hot, but the future is beginning to look much brighter as the season rolls by.