Milwaukee Brewers Sign Martin Maldonado

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The Milwaukee Brewers have reached an agreement for a two year contract worth $1.95 mil with catcher Martin Maldonado, according to a tweet from Adam McCalvy. Maldonado, 28, was arbitration eligible for the first time as a Super Two player.

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Martin made a splash in 2012, when he was called upon to fill in for an injured  Jonathon Lucroy. In 256 plate appearances that season, Maldy put up a .266/.321/.408 line with eight home runs and was worth 1.6 wins above replacement. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off in 2013, when Maldonado could only manage a meager .169/.236/.284 line with a 26.2% strikeout rate. His strong dWAR managed to keep him in Milwaukee despite a measly 42 OPS+.Maldonado bounced back with a solid .234/320/.387 line in 2014, posting an OPS+ of 96 and smacking four home runs, albeit it only 126 plate appearances.

Maldy will make $800K+$50K signing bonus in 2015, and then $1.1 mil in 2016. He has four years of club control remaining as a Super Two, so he will be eligible for arbitration two more times upon completion of this contract.

Given how Lucroy is one of the top catchers in baseball and made over 82% of the starts last year at catcher, I have often thought that Maldonado could be a viable trade candidate. If his 2013 season was truly an aberration, there could be a lot of value in a catcher who can be at least very close to league average offensively that also provides some terrific defense behind the plate (13 defensive runs saved in 1181.1 career innings at catcher). Cost certainty for the next two years only further increases his potential value. However, given that the Brewers don’t have a viable backup waiting in the wings, I don’t see Martin going anywhere this offseason.

With Maldonado’s signing, Gerardo Parra remains as the Brewers only arbitration eligible player yet to reach an agreement. If the two sides can’t hash something out, they will proceed to a hearing in February. The Brewers haven’t had an arbitration hearing since 2010 with Corey Hart.

Oh, and you can see Martin Maldonado tear the cover off a ball by clicking the link.

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