Thus, when the trade deadline kicked in, many sources around the league linked Houston as the perfect landing point for the Chicago Cubs’ catch and Wilson Contreras. They were in the market for another right-hand racket, and the catcher seemed to be the most obvious position to improve.
But the stars stood by their man. They love the presence of the veteran Maldonado behind the board, his leadership at the club, and the strong connection he has with the staff. Its value to the organization exceeds what statistics can measure.
So instead, they traded for Cristian Vazquez, who is still a solid player, but not the all-star promotion one might expect for a team like the Astros.
After the deal, the team made it clear that Vazquez had not usurped Maldonado behind the plate, despite outranking him in numbers until that point. Hunters were splitting time, and Maldonado was still Houston’s number one man.
As expected, the team received some criticism for this decision as well. On August 2, Vasquez was hitting .281 with a 110 hip+. He was one of the best batting defenders in the game, and played a solid defense as well. Meanwhile, Maldonado was only hitting .175 with a 65 wRC+.
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However, since that day, Maldonado has done everything in his power to prove that the Astros were right to believe in him. He has cut .229/.293/.398 with a 97 WRC+ since the trade deadline. Nobody says these are great offensive numbers, but for hunting they are above average offensive production.
To be completely transparent, most of that production has come in the past few days, going 7 for 11 with two home runs and five RBI. Prior to that last hot streak, he had been hitting .167 in 24 games since August 2. However, production is production, even if it is in groups. Maldonado was the star of the day on both September 18 and September 21, helping Houston win two useful games in their pursuit of the best MLS record.
Meanwhile, Vasquez has struggled since leaving the Boston Red Sox. His 238 hit rate is satisfying for a hunter, but he has barely walked and only has one extra base hit with the Astros – double on September 15th.
Wilson Contreras, for what he deserves, continued to mash, but Houston doesn’t look back with regret. They were happy Maldonado headed into the 2022 season, they were happy with him on the trade deadline, and they are happy now. The Astros have always believed in Martin Maldonado, and their continued belief paid off.
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