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MLB Roundup 12/21: Astros sign Martín Maldonado

While the Twins and Tigers sign pitchers

World Series - Washington Nationals v Houston Astros - Game Two Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Astros sign Martín Maldonado

The Astros, cheating scandals aside, have one of the most complete rosters in baseball. Perhaps it’s the most complete roster in baseball. Yes, it’s impossible to replace Gerrit Cole, but they do have Lance McCullers returning from injury as well as top prospect Forrest Whitley ready for the majors. The biggest hole on the roster was behind the plate, and rather than make any sort of big move there they are just going back to where they were. That is to say they are bringing back Martín Maldonado on a two-year deal worth $7 million. Maldonado is not going to win any Silver Sluggers, but he is a very good defensive catcher for a lineup that doesn’t really need more firepower. In an ideal world he would probably be a backpack, or at least part of something close to a 50/50 split, but this is a good fit for the Astros.

Sox Spin: The Red Sox need another catcher for their roster and Maldonado seems like one of the better options out there. In hindsight, it probably was never all that realistic, though. Boston obviously has their starter in hand with Christian Vázquez, and Maldonado has enough of a track record that he could choose a team with less of a clear picture at the position. Ultimately, the Red Sox probably aren’t going to give a two-year deal to their next backup catcher, and they aren’t going to offer the playing time Houston can.

Tyler Clippard signs with the Twins

Earlier in the week, the Twins added to their bullpen by bringing back Sergio Romo. Now, they are bringing in another veteran righty, this time with Tyler Clippard. He will be getting $2.75 million in the one-year deal. Clippard is not an elite reliever at this point in his career, and he’s been bouncing around like crazy over the last half-decade or so. This will be the tenth team he has played with in the majors. The results for Clippard have been extremely up and down over his career, but interestingly he is one of three pitchers (along with Romo and Fernando Rodney) who have made at least 50 appearances in every year this decade. The Twins now have a solid bullpen with a bunch of good righties, though they could probably use more help from the left side.

Sox Spin: I’ve accepted that the Red Sox will not make any real additions until they make a trade to clear a little of their payroll, but Clippard is the kind of cheap veteran they can use in their bullpen. I like him better than Hembree (admittedly that may just be Hembree fatigue on my part), and he’s cheap enough that the team could simply move on if he doesn’t perform rather than clinging to that roster spot. Alas, there are other Tyler Clippards out there.

Tigers sign Zack Godley

This one kind of flew under the radar since it was a minor-league deal, but the Tigers adding Zack Godley is a nice move. Now, Godley was extremely bad for the Diamondbacks last year. He pitched to a 6.39 ERA with Arizona before turning it around a bit at the end of the year with Toronto. He also lost his rotation spot with the Diamondbacks after nine starts. Two years ago, however, he was a little below average over 32 starts and the year before that (2017) he was well above average. There’s not a whole lot of upside here, but this is the kind of minor-league deal that can pay off with a more-than-acceptable back-end rotation arm. For a team like the Tigers, that can be big and if Godley works out he can be attractive trade bait in the summer.

Sox Spin: The Red Sox could use some rotation depth, and this would have been perfect given what one can reasonably expect to find for a minot-league deal. Of course, from Godley’s perspective it’s easier to see yourself getting a major-league role with a team like the Tigers than one like the Red Sox, even if the difference may not be as large as one might think.