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#pounditTuesday, February 20, 2024

Padres linked to ex-World Series champion catcher

A San Diego Padres hat resting on a glove

Aug 8, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A view of an official San Diego Padres New Era on field hat against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Padres need to cut payroll this offseason, but there may be a particular target out there who can give them plenty of bang for their buck.

Chandler Rome of The Athletic reported that the Houston Astros are facing some competition from the Padres as they look to re-sign free agent catcher Martin Maldonado. Rome adds that the Miami Marlins and Chicago White Sox are also among the teams that have checked in on Maldonado.

The 37-year-old Maldonado, a Gold Glove winner in 2017, has spent the last six seasons on the Astros (though he briefly left and then returned in 2019). He started on Houston’s 2022 World Series team but is now hitting the open market once again. While Maldonado is old, slow, and has a batting average that is in the gutter (.191 over his entire Astros tenure), he can be a clutch power hitter, provides stellar defense, and is highly regarded as a veteran leader and game manager.

San Diego is an interesting situation at the catcher position. Gary Sanchez, who was a surprise contributor in 2023 with his bat and his chemistry with Blake Snell, is a free agent this winter (as is Austin Nola). That leaves Luis Campusano, a quality hitter but a shoddy defender, and Brett Sullivan, who is a low-ceiling defensive specialist. Elite 17-year-old prospect Ethan Salas, also a catcher, lurks in the minor leagues for the Padres as well.

Maldonado might not get much more than an inexpensive one-year deal at this point. But he possesses plenty of tools (including some very underrated ones) that could help the disappointing Padres get closer to their ceilling.

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