The Houston Astros have already announced Yainer Diaz as their starting catcher for the 2024 season, so it's not too much of a surprise to see Martin Maldonado with one foot out the door.
The veteran catcher has lost his long-time spot to Diaz, and if he returns to Houston next year, he would primarily be serving in a backup role. He played for the Astros for the past five seasons and became a free agent after the 2023 season.
In light of the growing uncertainty surrounding Maldonado's future, the catcher is reportedly being eyed by a handful of teams around the league.
As reported by MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, Maldonado "is already drawing interest from 4-5 teams." Exactly which teams are left up to fans for speculation.
Astros may part with long-time catcher Martin Maldonado this offseason
Now, a select of group of Astros fans may not be so quick to believe this rumor. Maybe it was just something Maldonado and his agent, Dan Lozano, floated to the media to plump him up this winter?
Earlier this week, The Athletic noted that both Maldonado and the Astros had "mutual interest in a reunion." Per those reports, general manager Dana Brown had already met with Lozano to presumably discuss Maldonado's future with the club.
With Diaz taking over as the primary catcher in 2024, an experienced backup already familiar with the Astros' pitching corps could prove invaluable to the club with hopes of making another postseason run. Maldonado projects to be the most obvious choice as a backup and mentor for Diaz -- assuming he isn't poached by another team.
The 36-year-old Maldonado raked in $4.5 million last year and may welcome a mentor role given his age and recent decline. On the other hand, he could just as easily follow the money out of Houston.
Stay tuned for more updates on Maldonado's availability this winter.