News broke on Friday that former LA Angels catcher Martin Maldonado signed a two-year, $7 million deal to stay with the Houston Astros.
This move sucks for LA Angels fans big time. Losing out on Martin Maldonado hurts, but watching him go to a division rival in the Houston Astros really sucks. It also eliminates one of the last options on the free agency market for the Halos to fill their under-the-radar huge need at catcher.
Also, before you want Billy Eppler fired, it was reported Maldonado turned down more lucrative deals to return to Houston. The Angels very well could have been one of the teams to offer Maldonado more than the Astros, but no one can blame him for wanting to return and chase more World Series rings.
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Jason Castro is now the best option left on the free agent market, and while he could be part of the answer for the Halos, he cannot hit at all against left-handed pitchers. The Angels best route no longer is via free agency, but in a trade for another reunion.
Willson Contreras and Joe Maddon have quite the history together. Since his debut in 2016, Contreras has made two All Star teams and been one of the best catchers in baseball. His offensive production is elite, and his defensive side of the ball is solid. While trading away prospects is an obvious last resort, it’s necessary at this point for Eppler.
The Angels wouldn’t part with Jo Adell in this move whatsoever. It would likely be a mix of cheap major league talent (Tommy La Stella, Luis Rengifo, one of the younger pitchers) and prospects that are somewhat close to being ready to contribute regularly at the MLB level (Brandon Marsh, Jahmai Jones, Matt Thaiss, Luis Madero). Marsh is the Angels’ #2 prospect, and they’d likely be reluctant to move on from him as well.
However, one can’t deny how much of a boost Contreras would give the Angels. His bat would make the entire Angels’ lineup deadly, all the way from the very top to the very bottom. He also wouldn’t be a one-year rental. The Angels would have control of Contreras for three full seasons prior to him entering free agency, making him an extremely valuable piece should they acquire him.
If the Angels had been able to acquire Martin Maldonado, that would have been great. However, after missing out on yet another free agent catcher, the Angels need to refocus their pursuit on the trade market, and reunite Joe Maddon with his old catcher.