The Astros have sent the recently DFA’d Tony Kemp to the Cubs in exchange for Martin Maldonado
For the second straight season, the Astros have shored up their catching tandem by acquiring Martin Maldonado. This time, they grab him from the Cubs in exchange for Tony Kemp, who was designated for assignment last week.
The 32-year-old Maldonado was traded from the Royals to the Cubs earlier this month, but played only four games for the North Siders. The Cubs evidently wanted him as a temporary stopgap until their regular catching team got healthy, and now deemed him expendable.
Maldonado is slashing .217/.285/.349 on the season with six home runs and hit .231/.257/.398 in 41 regular season games for the Astros in 2018. He had a memorable spell in the postseason when he struggled with blocking pitches, but overall is a strong defensive catcher who won a Gold Glove in 2017.
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He also provides an upgrade offensively over backup Max Stassi, who’s slashing a morbid .167/.235/.211 on the season. What’s more, Stassi is only throwing out 15 percent of base stealers this season, while the strong-armed Maldonado is at 32 percent. He threw out a ridiculous 63 percent of base stealers in his regular season run with the Astros in 2018.
With this trade, the out-of-options Stassi is likely to be traded or designated for assignment, leaving Maldonado and Robinson Chirinos as the team’s catchers moving forward.
So Long to Kemp
Kemp finds himself off to the Cubs, who can probably provide him with more playing time than he was getting in Houston. Regular second baseman Addison Russell was recently sent down to Triple-A, so Kemp could see time there as well as in the outfield.
He posted a solid .263/.351/.392 line in 97 games for the Astros in 2018 but fell to .227/.308/.417 this season. With Myles Straw outplaying him, the team had no roster spot remaining for the out-of-options Kemp.
The team’s fifth-round pick in 2013, Kemp finishes his Houston career with a .240/.322/.376 batting line with 14 homers and 16 steals in 239 games. He will be missed by fans and teammates for his clubhouse presence and his hugs for homers, but should be headed for a great opportunity in Chicago.