For the first year in what seems like forever (but really since 2009), the Brewers will begin a season without Jonathan Lucroy playing a game in the navy blue and gold uniforms. That ship has sailed and the Brewers will usher in a new era behind the plate, whomever their starting catcher is. However, that situation remains up in the air at this time and will need to be addressed this offseason.
For the continuation purposes, here’s a rundown of every start made by Brewers at the No. 2 position this past year:
Jonathan Lucroy (82)
Martin Maldonado (69)
Manny Pina (17)
Andrew Susac (6)
We’ll begin this post by discussing the player that’s theoretically next in line to assume the position — Martin Maldonado, who was Lucroy’s backup catcher through a majority of those years. However, it almost feels as if Maldy’s time in Milwaukee might be ticking as well. It’s difficult to make a case why he should be the catcher of the future moving forward. Has he been effective in the backup role? Yes. Did he conduct a satisfactory job behind the plate once Lucroy left town? Yes. But even after all of that, should the Brewers enlist in him being their catcher moving forward? That’s where it gets iffy.
Maldonado holds two years along with a presumably cheap arbitration. That alone could make him a candidate to be traded this offseason. Milwaukee wouldn’t net much in return, but that hasn’t stopped transactions from being made before. Maldy could also be non-tendered, due in part to there simply not being enough room on the roster for him. If it means saving a roster spot, the Brewers might not be as concerned with the return as they are in actually making a move to get rid of him. Remember, the Brewers have two other catchers in line in Manny Pina and Andrew Susac, so it wouldn’t be the worst possibility.
As was said above, Maldonado did a terrific job of backing up Lucroy. He’s floated above the .200 mark in batting average the last three seasons and has accumulated more than 20 RBI in the last two. That’s exactly the type of play one would expect from a backup catcher. Considering that, it might be safe for the Brewers to let Maldonado hit the road off of that basis alone. They might very well decide they’ve seen enough and don’t expect him to suddenly blossom into the type of catcher Lucroy was. Backup catchers are always sought after for in the MLB and Maldonado could be quite serviceable for some team out there.
That leaves the door open for either Manny Pina or Andrew Susac. Both of them have flirted with the Majors between their time at Triple-A. The two are now at the point where they’re both out of options entering the 2017 year. So hypothetically, if Martin Maldonado was kept on the roster, either Pina or Susac could clear waivers and potentially be lost. It’s not as if Maldonado is blocking a stud prospect in the farm system from coming up and being the team’s catcher either. We all know that the Brewers are thin at that position (Jacob Nottingham’s development remains a question mark among scouts). However, when it’s interpreted from a pure dollars and cents standpoint, the picture begins to focus itself and when it’s put into perspective like that, the case of choosing those two over Maldonado makes sense.
Martin Maldonado was a fun Brewer during his time here in the Brew City. However, once the logistics are realized and the thought process begins, it’s sort of difficult seeing any way for him to remain a part of the team much longer. We’re transcending on a new era of Brewers baseball and that means that the old faces won’t be spotted in the dugout much anymore. However, it also opens up opportunities for new players and that’s what will more than likely happen for Pina and Susac.