The Seattle Mariners still need to add a veteran catcher and according to Jon Heyman, they are in the hunt for the best remaining option. What could he bring to Seattle?
The report indicates that the Mariners are “among the teams interested” in former Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels backstop Martin Maldonado. Fans should be quite familiar with Maldonado, having seen him for the past 2 seasons in the AL West.
Currently, the Mariners are rolling into the regular season with Omar Narvaez as the unquestioned starter and David Freitas as the backup. In addition, Seattle also has MLB veteran Jose Lobaton in big league camp, as well as Austin Nola and Joe DeCarlo.
The team is quite high on DeCarlo, but he is still a few years away. Freitas got some run with the club last year, and while he handled the spot adequately, he did nothing to secure the spot entering the 2019 season. Enter Martin Maldonado.
No, Maldonado isn’t going to wow anybody with the bat. He is a below-average bat, even by a catcher standard. His 74 wRC+ ranked 32nd overall for catchers with more than 250 PAs. He has decent pop, showing 10-15 home run power.
However, Maldonado is a whizz with the glove. He ranked second in Fangraphs defensive score. He finished 8th in StatCorner’s pitch framing metrics and threw out 49% of would-be base stealers in 2018. In addition, he owns the 2017 Gold Glove Award.
Why bring in Maldonado? Omar Narvaez is going to get a bulk of the playing time. But with a ton of young arms in camp and likely making their debut in 2019, having a veteran backstop to help the youngster cannot hurt.
Any deal would almost certainly be a 1-year deal worth $1.5-$3 million. The low-risk nature of such a deal makes it a no-brainer for the Seattle. Whether or not Maldonado chooses the Mariners remains to be seen.