Martin Benjamin Maldonado Valdes
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 210 lb.
- High School Dr. Juan J. Nunez High School
- Debut September 3, 2011
Catcher Martin Maldonado reached AAA in 2009 and the major leagues in 2011.
Maldonado was picked by the Anaheim Angels in the 27th round of the 2004 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Arnold Cochran and hit .217/.277/.233 that year in his pro debut with the AZL Angels. In 2005, Martin batted .256/.278/.279 for the AZL Angels and was 8 for 32 with two walks and a homer for the Orem Owlz. The next season, Maldonado showed little progress at .222/.309/.288 for the AZL Angels.
Let go by Los Angeles in January 2007, he signed with the Milwaukee Brewers the same month. In 2007, he hit .221/.309/.288 for the West Virginia Power. For the 2008 season, the 21-year-old played for the Brevard County Manatees (.266/.352/.351 in 34 G) and Huntsville Stars (.194/.225/.276 in 31 G). He gunned down an impressive 46% of runners who tried to steal against him.
Maldonado split 2009 between the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (2 for 19, 2 BB), Nashville Sounds (6 for 18, BB, 2B) and Brevard County (.199/.300/.259). He again threw out 46% of attempted base-stealers. He led Florida State League catchers in fielding percentage (.995), assists (95) and passed balls (17).
In 2010, Maldonado played for Brevard County (4 for 33, BB), Huntsville (.252/.347/.369 in 34 G) and Nashville (.253/.309/.425 in 52 G). He threw out 43% of runners. He was then put on Puerto Rico's preliminary roster for the 2010 Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament. He mad ehis major league debut with the Brewers when rosters expanded in September of 2011, after hitting .287/.373/.436 in 103 games between Huntsville and Nashville. With Milwaukee, he only got into 3 games and had one at-bat. He played 35 games for Nashville at the start of 2012, hitting only .198, then was called up to Milwaukee for good at the end of May. He played 78 games in the National League, hitting .266 with 8 homers and 30 RBIs. In 2013, he fell to .169 in 67 games as the back-up of Jonathan Lucroy.
Playing for the Brewers on April 18, 2014, Maldonado literally hit the cover off the ball in the 6th inning of a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He slashed a ground ball towards third baseman Pedro Alvarez, causing the stitches on the baseball to fall apart; Alvarez was forced to field a ball with a large piece of leather flopping off and could only throw a fluttering quail towards first base, which Martin easily beat for an infield single. Lucroy had an outstanding season for the Brewers that year, which cut down Martin's playing time. He played only 52 games and went to bat 111 times, hitting .234 with 4 homers and 16 RBIs.
He had a memorable day against the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 31, 2015, when he went 4 for 6 with 2 runs and 3 RBIs. His day concluded when he hit a walk-off homer off Vidal Nuno in the 17th inning to give the Brewers a 7-6 win. A 5 hours and 49 minutes, it was the longest game by time in the history of Miller Park and Maldonado caught all of it. He had been playing regularly for stretch, as Lucroy had suffered a broken toe on April 20th, leaving the starting job to Maldonado in his absence. It was good that Lucroy was scheduled to return to the team on June 1st, as Martin needed the rest after his epic game. He played 79 games that season, hitting .210 with 4 homers and 22 RBIs. he had a very similar year in 2016, again backing up Lucroy and hitting .202 with 8 homers and 21 RBIs in 76 games.
On December 13, 2016 Maldonado was traded with pitcher Drew Gagnon to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for catcher Jett Bandy. In 2017, he was a clear regular for the first time of his career and played 138 games, after having never played as many as 80 in his first six seasons. It was his defensive work that was the highlight of his year, as he won a Gold Glove as the best defensive catcher in the American League. He hit just .221 - right on his career norm, but set personal bests with 19 doubles, 14 homers, 43 runs and 38 RBIs, although this was mainly a function of increased playing time.
On July 26, 2018, with Maldonado due to become a free agent and the Angels 15½ games out of first place, he was traded to the Houston Astros for Patrick Sandoval and $250,000 in international bonus money. He was hitting .223 in 78 games for the Angels, and with the Astros hit .231 in 41 games. Overall, he hit .225 with 18 doubles, 9 homers and 44 RBIs. He played regularly in the postseason, starting the first two games of Houston's three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians in the Division Series, and four of the five games of the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox. He went 2 for 19 (.105) in the two series in what was his first taste of the postseason.
He became a free agent after the 2018 season, but had to wait until the first week of March to find a team: the Kansas City Royals brought him on board shortly after they lost starting C Salvador Perez for the entire 2019 season because of Tommy John surgery. He was the starter for the Royals over the first half and hit .227 with 6 homers and 17 RBIs in 74 games. On July 15th, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs, who had just placed starting C Willson Contreras on the injured list, in return for P Mike Montgomery. He only stayed with the Cubs until Contreras was healed, going 0 for 11 ion 4 games. On July 31st, he was on the move again, returning to the Houston Astros in return for OF/IF Tony Kemp. He played 27 games for Houston and hit .202 with 6 homers and 10 RBIs, splitting time with Robinson Chirinos, allowing the Astros to get rid of Max Stassi, who had hit just .167 as the back-up. He saw regular action during the postseason as well, with a total of 7 games as the Astros made it to Game 7 of the World Series before bowing to the Washington Nationals. Overall, he went 6 for 20 (.300) with a double and a homer. On December 23rd, the Astros re-signed him for two years and $7 million.
- AL Gold Glove Winner (2017)