The Astros have acquired catcher Martin Maldonado from the Angels in exchange for left-handed pitching prospect Patrick Sandoval, as the Orange County Register’s Jeff Fletcher reported Thursday morning:
The #Angels are trading C Martin Maldonado to the Houston Astros. Return TBA. More to come on this story.— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) July 26, 2018
The Angels are getting LHP Patrick Sandoval, 21. He has a career 3.88 ERA in the minors. 11th-round pick in 2015. He’s in A ball.— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) July 26, 2018
The Angels will also receive international slot money in the deal, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.
Maldonado, 31, won a Gold Glove in his first season as a full-time starter for the Angels last year. He’s very much a defense-first player and has posted an OPS over .700 in just two of his seven full major-league seasons. He’s been nothing special at the plate this year, but he’s held his own for a guy who’s so talented defensively, slashing .223/.284/.332 with five homers in 290 plate appearances.
Maldonado is likely to split time with or back up rookie Max Stassi, who has posted a solid .246/.330/.434 slash line with seven homers in 197 plate appearances but has slumped of late, posting a .628 OPS in June and a .553 clip in July.
The Astros’ primary catcher, Brian McCann, underwent knee surgery in early July and was given a recovery timeline of 4-6 weeks. That’d mean he would be on track to return in early-to-mid August, but since he’s hitting just .206/.283/.323 this season, it’s perhaps possible that the Astros would look to send him on a rehab assignment and keep him there until rosters expand on September 1. Stassi is out of options and cannot be sent to the minors, and it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for them to carry three full-time catchers since DH Evan Gattis is a perfectly capable third catcher.
Sandoval, 21, has posted a 2.56 ERA and 0.97 WHIP with 97 strikeouts and 15 walks in 88 innings. The 2015 11th-round pick was not ranked among the Astros’ top 30 prospects by MLB Pipeline.