Astros free agents 2024: Martin Maldonado, Dusty Baker headline expired contracts at end of season

ByMatt Guillermo KTRK logo
Wednesday, October 25, 2023
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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The golden era of Houston Astros baseball is likely to continue into 2024, with the core of Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, and company still under contract.

But the ballclub has some decisions to make on expiring deals, including one with its championship field manager, Dusty Baker.

Here are the free agents who may or may not remain in H-Town for next season.

Michael Brantley

Astros' Michael Brantley acknowledges the fans after a solo home run during the second inning of Game 4 of a baseball AL Division Series against Minnesota, Oct. 11, 2023.
AP Photo/Stacy Bengs

The 36-year-old left fielder re-signed with the club for one year and $12 million before the 2023 season as he was rehabilitating from shoulder surgery.

Multiple setbacks for his return entered the picture before officially debuting this season on Aug. 29.

Brantley is a key veteran presence in the clubhouse, with 12 years of Major League Baseball service under his belt.

But his durability late in his career has been the main concern.

Nevertheless, Brantley certainly has potential for a post-playing career. Some fans have floated Brantley as a major league hitting coach, ideally in Houston.

Martin Maldonado

Houston Astros catcher Martin Maldonado pitches in relief during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023, in Houston.
AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox

Like Brantley, Maldonado has his fair share of MLB war stories after 10 years in "The Show."

The 37-year-old catcher from Puerto Rico is consistently credited as an invaluable asset to the Astros' pitching staff, having built a rapport with Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, and others.

His hitting is much to be desired. He had a .191 batting average in 2023 with an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .606.

The Astros will have to decide if Maldy, who was paid $4 million this past season, is worth keeping on as a preferred catcher to the staff's aces, especially with 25-year-old rookie catcher Yainer Diaz breaking out.

Dusty Baker

The coolest 74-year-old in the majors re-signed before the 2023 season for another year after leading the Astros to his first championship as a manager.

Baker is in position to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame, also earning a World Series ring as a player.

So, knowing that he put Houston within striking distance of another championship, could he be tempted to give it another go?

After almost 2,200 wins and 26 years managing, maybe.

If he doesn't return, though, the Astros could be in good hands. Bench coach Joe Espada has been waiting in the wings to take residence inside the Astros manager's office.

Ryne Stanek, Phil Maton, and perhaps Hector Neris

The bullpen could be reshaped in 2024, with Stanek and Maton about to hit free agency and Neris holding an $8.5 million player option, which was converted from a club option due to reaching a contractual benchmark for appearances.

All three, though, were integral arms in an Astros bullpen that led or was near the top of the majors in earned-run average.

Neris is 34, Stanek is 32, and Maton is 30.

SEE ALSO: Astros reliever Phil Maton proud to see youngest brother's journey with Rangers' minor league team

Baseball has always been a family affair in the Maton household. Phil faced one of his brothers during the 2022 World Series. Now, he faces the team of his youngest brother Jacob.