Need #3: Catcher
Stephen Vogt was out for the season and might not be tendered a contract for next year. If Vogt doesn’t return, and Kratz doesn’t return considering he’ll be 39 next season, the Brewers will have a huge hole at the position.
Pina took a step back offensively this year and top catching prospect Jacob Nottingham is big league ready, but he’s not the stud that he was once thought to be.
While Pina is great defensively, as confirmed by his Gold Glove nomination, he’s not a big threat on offense. The Milwaukee Brewers have lacked an offensive threat at the catcher position since they traded Jonathan Lucroy to the Rangers back in 2016.
Speaking of which, Lucroy will be a free agent this winter, as he’s been unable to secure a long term deal because of his offensive struggles since leaving Milwaukee. Perhaps a return to Milwaukee would bring back his offensive firepower similar to how being in the Cream City has improved Jeremy Jeffress‘ results?
I’m not saying the Brewers will or should go after Lucroy this winter, but it’s just an option.
Other options are Wilson Ramos and Yasmani Grandal as they are the top two offensive catchers on the open market this offseason. We’ve already written about whether or not the Brewers should pursue Grandal this winter. Both are intriguing options that should present offensive upgrades, but the Crew would be sacrificing defense as neither are anywhere near as good as Pina.
Some might be clamoring for the Brewers to trade for JT Realmuto of the Marlins, the top catcher likely on the trade market this winter. But they demanded Victor Robles to headline the return package from the Nationals over the past year. Robles is a top 5 prospect in all of baseball. If the Brewers were to get Realmuto in a trade, you can wave goodbye to Keston Hiura. So Brewers fans can forget about getting Realmuto.
There will be a number of teams in the market for the services of Ramos and Grandal, meaning the Brewers will have to make very competitive offers in order to sign one of them.
How Milwaukee approaches the catching market this winter will likely reflect their true opinions of Jacob Nottingham. If they believe in Nottingham, they won’t search very hard for an upgrade and likely won’t bring one in. If they don’t believe in Nottingham, they’ll go hard after Ramos or Grandal to find an upgrade for the near future.
It should be an interesting offseason for David Stearns as he tries to take this Milwaukee Brewers team to the World Series for the first time since 1982.