The Cubs acquired catcher Martin Maldonado from the Royals July 15 in exchane for lefthander Mike Montgomery. This deal came at a time when Willson Contreras was on the injured list; the Cubs liked Maldonado’s defensive and pitch-framing skills and it was thought they’d like the roster versatility of carrying three catchers.
Maldonado has appeared in four games for the Cubs, going 0-for-11 with two walks.
And now, he could be on the move again:
Martín Maldonado has been marketed in trade discussions, sources told The Athletic’s Robert Murray, with the Houston Astros emerging as a particular team of interest. The Cubs acquired Maldonado from the Kansas City Royals only two weeks ago, viewing the third catcher as a valuable insurance policy for the stretch run.
Personally, I like the Cubs having the third catcher on the roster, particularly since both Contreras (left field) and Victor Caratini (first base) can play other positions. In the case of this particular rumor, though, the Cubs could possibly be interested in infielder/outfielder Tony Kemp, who was designated for assignment by the Astros last Thursday. The DFA was, per MLB Trade Rumors, likely made because Kemp was out of options.
Last year Kemp was a useful bench player for the Astros, hitting .263/.351/.392 in 295 plate appearances, with 0.7 bWAR. He played second base and all three outfield positions in 2018 and started three postseason games for them. He hasn’t been quite as good offensively in 2019: .227/.308/.417 in 186 PA, though posting 0.6 bWAR, not unreasonable for a backup player two-thirds of the way through the season.
I don’t know if the Cubs are interested in Kemp; he’d be a reasonable fit on this roster and, as noted, he was DFA last week, which means the Astros will either wind up trading him or releasing him. Trading for Maldonado could very well be in Houston’s mindset — they did it just a little over a year ago when they acquired him from the Angels for a minor leaguer and international slot money.
If the Cubs do trade Maldonado, that leaves (again) Taylor Davis as the “break glass in case of emergency” catcher.
As always, we await developments.