Brewers 2016: Martin Maldonado
Craig Counsell has already confirmed that Martin Maldonado will be Lucroy’s backup for a fifth straight year. Last year Maldonado found himself in unfamiliar territory as Lucroy spent a good chunk of the season giving Maldonado more playing time than he had seen in past years. If Lucroy were to find himself traded before the trade deadline, this season Maldonado would a familiar face behind home plate as the Brewers continue their rebuilding process. If that were to happen could Maldonado produce at a decent level, could he give the Brewers a WAR over zero?
2015 saw Martin Maldonado posting a line of .210/.282/.293 in 256 PA over 79 games hitting 4 HRs, 22 RBIs and 19 Hits while posting a WAR of 0.2. He hadn’t seen such plate time since 2012 when he posted slightly better numbers, however, Maldonado hasn’t played in more than 80 games in his five seasons on the Brewers roster. Martin Maldonado has proven himself as a reliable backup catcher; the underlying question is can he be more than a backup? In the Brewers were to ship away Lucroy this season, assuming they only get prospects in return, who would end up filling that void? Maldonado remains the most obvious candidate, but how will he fare in 2016?
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FanGraphs Streamer projects Martin Maldonado to post a line of .218/.287/.338 in 221 PA over 39 games while hitting 4 HRs, 15 RBIs and 14 Hits. The numbers reflect what Maldonado has put up in years past, solidifying the idea that he remains a reliable backup for Lucroy. While Maldonado doesn’t have the greatest offensive numbers, he has a strong arm that allows him to control the running game, which makes up for his lack of offensive numbers.
For a rebuilding Brewers, if Lucroy ends up going to another team and Martin Maldonado moves up to the Number 1 spot, that would be the best choice. The Brewers have prospect catchers in their system. The move would allow the Brewers to continue rebuilding and give their prospects the chance to make the adjustments they need without being overwhelmed at the major league level.