CAUSE FOR PAUSE
How Houston Astros 'catcher of the future' could be put on hold
It's no surprise that Justin Verlander's return to the Houston Astros will have massive implications for the team not only this season, but heading into next year and beyond.
While Houston GM Dana Brown has said that Yainer Diaz is the catcher of the future, would anyone be surprised if Martin Maldonado returns to the Astros in 2024? And if he does, what would keep him from catching Verlander, and Framber Valdez if they want him in that role? Hey, let's be honest, we know for a fact that they do. Verlander and Framber love throwing to him.
We also know Maldy was working to get JV back to the Astros, catcher Korey Lee was traded to Chicago in the Kendall Graveman deal, and Machete once again proved his worth by calling the pitches for Framber's no-hitter.
The Astros are obviously all in to win a championship in 2023 and 2024, so bringing Maldy back for one more year seems more likely than not. Especially if Dusty Baker has anything to say about it.
Which brings up another question. Does Verlander's return all but assure Dusty Baker AND Maldonado are locks to return in 2024? And if they do come back, it's hard to see Dusty naming Diaz the starter over Maldy when he's been reluctant to do so this year, despite Maldonado's glaring offensive and defensive struggles.
Let's make this clear, this isn't a conversation about what we think they should do. This is about how we see things playing out based on what the Astros and Baker have shown us over the last several years.
We would actually be open to Maldonado returning, if he truly is the backup and only catching about twice a week. But we could see Dusty leaning on his veteran catcher for one more year if it's his call in the end.
Perhaps there could be a compromise between Dana Brown and Dusty. Brown could agree to bring Maldonado back if Dusty agrees to play Diaz at catcher for at least three out of every five starts. Something we've been clamoring for over the last few months.
Be sure to watch the video above as we project how this situation could unfold heading into next season.
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