Martin Maldonado, Astros agree to contract for 2022

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Catcher Martin Maldonado and the Houston Astros have agreed to a one-year, $5.5 million contract for 2022.

The deal announced Wednesday includes a $5 million salary for 2022 and a $4 million team option for 2023 with a $500,000 buyout. The 2023 salary would become guaranteed at $5 million if Maldonado plays in 90 or more games this year.

His contract provides that he get a hotel suite on road trips plus award bonuses.

Maldonado is making $3.5 million in 2021, the second season of a $7 million, two-year contract. His 2020 pay was reduced to about $1.296 million by the coronavirus pandemic.

A Gold Glove winner in 2017, the 34-year-old Maldonado is 3 for 34 (.088) with no RBIs in 37 plate appearances this season. He has a .216 career average with 69 homers and 244 RBIs.

The Astros credit him for helping 15 rookie pitchers last season, including 10 who made their major league debuts.

He would have been eligible for free agency after the World Series.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

Minnesota Twis v Kansas City Royals
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.