Jul 14, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Milwaukee Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado (12) in action against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. The Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

What can the Brewers do with Martin Maldonado?

As the Milwaukee Brewers try to craft their roster for next season, they may want to do so with productivity in mind. Back-up catcher Martin Maldonado was all but productive this past season, so does his future in Milwaukee look bleak?

Maybe Martin Maldonado can rebound in 2014 and keep his spot on the team. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Maldonado had a significant 2012, but in 2013, he looked more like an unassured back-up rather than the guy you want to go to if Jonathan Lucroy is out or needs a day off. Everything about Maldonado in 2013 was off from the prior season and heading into 2014, it will be interesting to see how the team uses him.

This season, Maldonado hit an abysmal .169/.236/.284 with four homers and 22 RBIs all in 67 games. Sure Maldonado didn’t get as much playing time like last year’s 78 games, but for his numbers to decline so rapidly is frankly concerning.

He struck out 26.2 percent of the time, which was 4.3 percent more than 2012 and he sported a BABIP of .214, clearly no where near his previous .320. Offense was an apparent issue for the 27-year-old and if Lucroy goes down because of a significant injury, the Brew Crew had better hope Maldonado can return to 2012′s form.

Behind the plate, he allowed 14 wild pitches in 366.2 innings, but in the same regard threw out eight of the 19 runners that attempted to steal on him. He did commit only one error and had a fielding percentage of .997. Obviously Maldonado has room for improvement defensively, but it’s more manageable than his latest offensive display.

If the Brewers don’t sign a first baseman, there’s always the option of switching Lucroy to the position, but I’m not so sure that’s a great idea permanently. Say that were the case, then Maldonado would be the starter behind the plate unless the team were to find another catcher through free-agency or in a trade. The team also could wait it out and hope that prospect Clint Coulter can live up to be the future of the position, but perhaps holding their breath isn’t the best option.

The question is though, what do the Brewers do with him? You may say I’m jumping the gun on Maldonado, but his projections for 2014 aren’t exactly stellar. While they do peg him for slight increases in BABIP, WAR and a slash line, I still feel it may not be enough to make him relevant. I doubt the team could get much should they trade him and releasing him outright may be foolish if Coulter has trouble in the minors. For now, I suppose the best the team can do is keep him, but he’s going to have a short leash going forward, back-up catcher or not.

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