Though he spent most of the day handing out presents at a local grade school, Slingin’ David Stearns still found time to do some wheelin’ and dealin’. The Milwaukee Brewers announced earlier this afternoon that they’ve dealt backup catcher Martin Maldonado along with minor league right-hander Drew Gagnon to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for catcher Jett Bandy.
Bandy, who will turn 27 next spring, was originally a 31st round pick by the Angels back in 2011. He made a brief two game debut in the big leagues in 2015 but spent the majority of 2016 with Los Angeles, starting 60 games while splitting time at catcher with Carlos Perez. Bandy has batted .237/.283/.408 (89 OPS+) with 9 home runs across 233 career plate appearances in the big leagues. He hasn’t walked much (4.7%) or struck out much, either (16.3%). Bandy owns a career .265/.327/.422 slash line with 42 home runs in 1,666 minor league plate appearances.
Jett is well-regarded defensively and threw out 40% of attempted base thieves last season. He accrued 2 Defensive Runs Saved and 1.2 Fielding Runs Above Average in 2016, though Baseball Prospectus did value his catcher framing at -1.3 runs last season. Bandy has just one year of service time on his ledger and won’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2018 season, and can’t become a free agent until after the 2021 season.
Martin Maldonado will head back to Los Angeles, the organization that originally drafted him in the 27th round way back in 2004. Maldy spent parts of each of the last six seasons as Milwaukee’s backup catcher, batting a cumulative .217/.299/.342 with 28 home runs across 1,094 plate appearances. He posted a .683 OPS with a career-high 8 home runs in 253 plate appearances in 2016. Long regarded as a strong defensive backstop, Maldonado has thrown out 35% of base runners during his career while accruing 29 DRS and 36.1 FRAA, posting above-average framing numbers in each season of his big league career as well. The 30 year old is arbitration eligible this winter and the Angels will now be on the hook for his projected $1.6 mil salary in 2017.
Gagnon, 26, was a 3rd-round pick by the Brewers back in 2011. In the six seasons since then he’s posted a 4.65 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 across 631.1 minor league innings as both a starter and reliever. He spent last season split between AA Biloxi and AAA Colorado Springs, working to a 4.48 ERA in 68.1 innings with 63 strikeouts and 25 walks. He was Rule 5 Draft eligible this winter, going both unprotected by the Brewers and undrafted by the other 29 MLB teams.
Stearns said that playing time behind the plate still has yet to be determined, but with Maldonado now out of the picture we could midseason acquisition and former top prospect Andrew Susac get a shot at the starting catcher gig with Bandy as the backup. The Brewers saved themselves about $1 mil by replacing Maldonado with Bandy’s league minimum commitment and will control Bandy for five more seasons rather than another two of Maldonado.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Baseball Prospectus