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Maldonado back to Astros on 2-year deal

@RichardJustice
December 23, 2019

HOUSTON — The Astros checked another offseason box by agreeing to a two-year deal with catcher Martín Maldonado, the team announced on Monday. The contract is worth $7 million, a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. Feinsand reported that Maldonado had multiple offers on the table and took less money to

HOUSTON — The Astros checked another offseason box by agreeing to a two-year deal with catcher Martín Maldonado, the team announced on Monday. The contract is worth $7 million, a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

Feinsand reported that Maldonado had multiple offers on the table and took less money to come back to Houston, where the 33-year-old spent the stretch runs of the last two seasons after the Astros traded for him twice.

In 2019, the Astros acquired Maldonado from the Cubs at the Trade Deadline. In '18, Maldonado's first stint in Houston, they dealt for him from the Angels just before the Deadline.

Maldonado played in 68 regular-season games for the Astros in those two seasons, and he gives them a defensive presence behind the plate that Astros president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow prioritizes.

Maldonado was Brian McCann’s backup in 2018 after being acquired, and he split time in '19 with Robinson Chirinos, who is an unsigned free agent. Luhnow earlier signed veteran journeyman Dustin Garneau to compete with Garrett Stubbs for the backup catcher spot.

Maldonado hit .213/.293/.378 with 12 home runs for 2019 overall, in 105 games split between Houston, Chicago and Kansas City. He spent six of his nine career seasons with the Brewers.

Maldonado started 12 postseason games for the Astros over the last two seasons, six each in 2018 and '19, and entered as a late-inning replacement in two others.

Luhnow will now focus on acquiring a veteran starting pitcher as Houston's 2020 26-man roster is already taking shape six weeks before the opening of Spring Training.

New first-base coach

The Astros on Monday also announced that Omar Lopez has been promoted to the Major League coaching staff, where he will fill the first-base coach role vacated by Don Kelly, who is now the Pirates' bench coach.

Lopez has worked in the Astros organization for 21 years, including the past 12 as a Minor League manager. He was named Texas League Manager of the Year in 2018 as the skipper with Double-A Corpus Christi.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.