The Cubs have traded catcher Martín Maldonado to the Astros in exchange for utilityman Tony Kemp, which ESPN’s Jeff Passan was first to report. The Cubs had been shopping Maldonado and it was reported last week that Houston was an interested party, so this comes as no surprise.
Catcher Martín Maldonado has been traded from the Chicago Cubs to the Houston Astros, league sources tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 31, 2019
Tony Kemp is headed to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Martin Maldonado, the Chronicle has learned.
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) July 31, 2019
The Cubs had just acquired Maldonado in exchange for Mike Montgomery when Willson Contreras landed on the IL, but he hadn’t played since Contreras returned. And since Contreras now appears healthy and Victor Caratini continues to perform, the Cubs’ catching depth meant little chance for the veteran to see the field.
New Cub Kemp, 27 years old, is a 5-foot-6 outfielder/second baseman with exceptional contact skills. In 186 plate appearances this season, Kemp is batting .227 with a .306 wOBA and 94 wRC+ and an 85.1% contact rate (MLB average = 76%). He had been designated for assignment by the Astros a few days ago, so this is essentially an exchange of redundant players on both sides.
The Cubs also save money on the deal, since Kemp is owed around $205,000 for the remainder of the year and Maldonado still has bout $860,000 remaining. That surplus isn’t huge, but every little bit helps with a tight budget.