HOUSTON — The Astros are finalizing a one-year contract extension with catcher Martín Maldonado that would keep him in Houston through 2022 with a vesting option for 2023, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand on Tuesday. The club has not confirmed the deal.
After trading for Maldonado midseason two years in a row, the Astros signed the veteran backstop to a two-year deal prior to the 2020 season. Last year, he started 46 of Houston’s 60 games behind the plate and all but one in the playoffs. He’s off to a slow start this year, going 3-for-32 with 15 strikeouts entering Tuesday, but he is one of the club leaders and solid behind the plate.
The deal, once finalized, would mean the Astros would return their veteran catching tandem of Maldonado and Jason Castro next year. Castro signed a two-year deal to return to the Astros in January. Maldonado and Castro are one of two active catching tandems with each having at least 400 career games caught (Alex Avila and Yan Gomes of the Nats are the other).
Health maintenance key for Bregman
Astros third baseman Alex Bregman said he still doesn’t feel like he has his legs fully underneath him about two weeks into the season after dealing with hamstring problems last year and during spring camp. Bregman missed the first two weeks of Grapefruit League games while the Astros were cautious with his left hamstring strain, and manager Dusty Baker has held him out of the lineup twice in the first 10 games.
Still, Bregman said he feels like he’s trending in the right direction and hasn’t had any setbacks.
“Each passing day, you get that strength back,” he said. “I’m feeling better every day. [Monday], I felt great. It was a step in the right direction, and I continue to be adamant about prep work and my prep routine and making sure I’m in the best position to stay healthy this year.”
Bregman, a slow starter at the plate in his career, got off to a quick start this season but entered Tuesday is an 0-for-12 slump that dropped his batting average to .281.
“For me personally, I feel great,” he said. “I’m seeing the ball great. Just mechanically it’s off this homestand. That’s baseball. Each day you work to get better and each day you get to the cage, you work to improve and you get to feeling good and not only feeling good, but hitting good in the game as well. I felt good the first week of the season and then here at home a little bit of mechanical issues with my swing. Seeing the ball great, but it’s time to swing it better.”
• Astros shortstop Carlos Correa on Monday was named the winner of the Houston Sports Awards’ 2021 Sportsmanship Award for his charity work, which includes raising money for cancer, donating medical equipment during the coronavirus pandemic last year and assisting in delivering items to hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico.