Angels Swap Bandy for Maldonado and Prospect… And Why…

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Angels fans are a little confused by this one. It doesn’t seem to matter on the surface whether the Halos have Jett Bandy or Martin Maldonado. Drew Gagnon is likely a depth stash. But the trade with the Milwaukee Brewers was made on Tuesday. And does require some digging since this is clearly a trade that was made from the analytics side of things.

Before this deal though, who would’ve thought that Bandy could land a veteran and a prospect? Strange. Well, just goes to show how useless top prospect ratings really are. But Angels fans shouldn’t fool themselves into thinking Jett Bandy is suddenly some kind of stud prospect. He’s not.

However, it also shows that the club was auditioning Bandy in 2016 to raise his value knowing the perception around Major League Baseball that their farm system is thin.

Well if that was the case then it worked. Jefry Marte may have also been a piece that General Manager Billy Eppler was using to gain future trade attention. After all, neither of them have a full season’s-worth of service time, yet both put up starter-worthy numbers in roughly half a season each. So this could be a creative strategy Eppler was going for to strengthen the 25-man roster for 2017.

When one looks at the trade closer, they will find that Bandy and Maldonado have pretty much the same peripherals when it comes to WAR, runs created, and even their pitch framing is comparable. Both have caught stealing percentages from 35-40%. Maldonado actually had 5 pickoffs in 2016.

And again, Gagnon is probably trade fodder. Although he is the second Long Beach State product to go to the Angels in the last four days, the other being Danny Espinosa.

Maldonado was also drafted by the Angels in 2004, so there’s mutual familiarity there.

But is there a real difference between Maldonado and Bandy? Well there are two things.

The first thing is that Maldonado doesn’t hit for a particularly sexy batting average. However, his on-base percentage still topped .332 this past season despite only hitting .202. That’s a walk machine. Should his batting average even reach .220, that would push his on-base up around .350! That’s speculation though. His percentages do fluctuate. Regardless, it shows way better on-base ability than Bandy, who managed a higher .234 average, but only a .281 on-base in his rookie season. So that alone gives Maldonado a great advantage at the bottom third of the batting order, as well as a leg-up on Carlos Perez (another free swinger) for the starting catcher job.

The second thing is that Maldonado is way more experienced than Bandy. Let’s be honest here. As mentioned before, Jett Bandy does not have a full season of service time. Maldonado has six years, and is far more proven at and behind the plate. Maldonado developed his plate discipline well. Jett Bandy hasn’t. Both actually have decent pop. Maldonado hits between 5-10 homers in around 70-80 games a season. His only glaring weakness is balls in play falling on the ground. But he offsets that with a ton of walks, which still helps the bottom third of the order. Bandy chases.

No matter the case, one should always go for the veteran catcher with better defense, but in addition can top .300 with his on-base percentage in the bottom third of any starting lineup.

Basically, Martin Maldonado is Chris Iannetta with good defense. Enough said.

And again, Drew Gagnon is minor league pitching depth with maybe a couple of outings in September.

Hope this helps.