Anyone who has been reading this site the last few months likely predicted Maldonado's inclusion on this list. The bar for catcher offense is pretty low and for a long time, Maldonado's defensive excellence was more than enough to warrant including him on the roster. However, in 2023 Maldonado has fallen off a cliff not only at the plate, but defensively as well. Father Time is undefeated, especially when it comes to catchers, and it sure looks like Maldonado's time has come.
However, Maldonado does immediately break the rule of not including pending free agents, so what is the deal? The problem is that the Astros have an unhealthy attachment to Maldonado. Even with Yainer Diaz being the superior player by a wide margin, Maldonado continues to see regular playing time for Houston and there is a real chance that the Astros could try to bring him back again. The front office needs to resist that urge and find another catcher to put in a battery with Diaz (preferably a veteran one).
Whether or not David Hensley is on the roster in 2024 is not likely to move the needle much. The days of bench bats mattering in most situations are a thing of the past UNLESS you have a really deep roster and a manager that really likes to play matchups and the numbers which, well, isn't how one would describe Dusty Baker. However, Hensley's uninspiring play this season (in an admittedly small amount of playing time) should at least make Houston think a bit about his future with the organization.
The problem isn't the roster spot because the Astros have already sent Hensley back down to the minor leagues multiple times. The problem is that the roster yo-yoing they have done with Hensley is hurting his value and probably impacting his play on the field. Hensley has a track record of being a good hitting prospect with some defensive acumen. If Houston can't get that out of him at the major league level, they need to move him to a team that believes they can and get something of actual value out of him.