Astros and catcher Victor Caratini finalize $12 million, 2-year contract

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HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Astros and free-agent catcher Victor Caratini finalized their $12 million, two-year contract Thursday.

Caratini gets a $6 million salary each of the next two seasons and can earn $500,000 each year in performance bonuses for plate appearances.

A switch-hitter, the 30-year-old Caratini spent the past two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers and batted .259 with seven homers, 25 RBIs and a .711 OPS in 62 games this year as William Contreras' backup. He committed only one error and did not have a passed ball in 58 games behind the plate.

Caratini is a .236 career hitter with 38 homers and 171 RBIs in seven major league seasons with the Chicago Cubs (2017-20), San Diego (2021) and Milwaukee (2022-23). He has caught two no-hitters, the first thrown by Alec Mills for the Cubs in September 2020 and the second by Joe Musgrove with the Padres in April 2021.

Caratini has also made 62 appearances at first base in his big league career, including 25 starts.

Yainer Díaz is expected to the Astros' starting catcher next season, and the agreement with Caratini could mean Houston won't re-sign Martín Maldonado. The 37-year-old has been with the Astros since 2019.

“I’ve been talking to Yainer once a week,” new manager Joe Espada said Monday at baseball's winter meetings in Nashville, Tennessee. “We’re going to do some things in January leading into spring training to prep him for spring training. I don’t want us to get to spring training and start from scratch. So this is going to be starting right now having conversations about our staff, how to attack certain lineups, things that we know that we can help him with, receiving, throwing.”