The Milwaukee Brewers are going to be finalizing their Opening Day roster in the next few days as they get ready for the season. One player is on the verge of joining a different organization.
Erik Kratz is not making the Milwaukee Brewers roster this year. That’s just a fact. No matter how much fans and players alike enjoy his presence, he will not make this team and join them on Opening Day, barring potential last minute injuries to either Yasmani Grandal or Manny Pina.
Also, the 38 year old Kratz is out of minor league options, meaning that he’ll have to be placed on waivers if a trade to a different team that can put him on their roster can not be worked out.
What Can The Brewers Do With Kratz?
The front office has two options for Kratz. They can either trade him to a different team for some kind of return, or they can put him on waivers and see if another team claims him, and the Brewers would get nothing in return. If he clears waivers, he could possibly accept an outright assignment to Triple-A, but with Jacob Nottingham and Tuffy Gosewisch already at Triple-A, that’s really unnecessary.
All he would do, should he stay in the organization, is take away at-bats from the catchers who need them a bit more.
So with the Milwaukee Brewers looking to trade Kratz, and if they can’t do that, place him on waivers, where are the potential landing spots for him? What teams could try to trade for Kratz or claim him on waivers?
Potential Landing Spots
Kansas City Royals
The relationship between the Brewers and the Royals appears to be quite strong. With a number of recent trades and acquisitions of players from both teams, each side is quite familiar with the other.
The Royals recently lost starting catcher Salvador Perez for the entire 2019 season with Tommy John surgery. They signed Martin Maldonado to fill that starting void, but their backup situation could also use some help. Currently, they’re slated to have Cam Gallagher as their backup. He’s 26 years old and is coming off a .206/.250/.302 season in just 63 at-bats.
With a young pitching staff, adding a veteran like Kratz to help call games and perhaps provide a small offensive boost over Gallagher would be quite valuable to the Royals.
Brewers GM David Stearns and Royals GM Dayton Moore know each other quite well based on their recent trades and discussions with each other and there could be another match here on a Kratz trade.
This may be the reason why the Brewers would prefer a trade of Kratz rather than putting him on waivers. To prevent the Cubs from getting a chance to claim Kratz. Rumor has it the Cubs are interested in adding a veteran backstop to play behind Willson Contreras. Victor Caratini has struggled as a hitter and isn’t renowned for his defense.
A veteran presence like Kratz, who is a strong pitch-caller and also knows quite a lot about the Brewers pitching staff, would be an extremely valuable player for the Chicago Cubs.
A trade to Chicago is highly unlikely, but if a trade elsewhere can’t be reached and Kratz goes on waivers, the Cubs could put in a claim for him.
Tampa Bay Rays
Old friend Ji-Man Choi is slated to be the starting first baseman for the Rays this year after a mid-season trade last year that worked out quite well for the Rays. Perhaps the Milwaukee Brewers could send another big league veteran down to Tampa for this season.
Heading into the offseason, the Rays desperately needed some catching and they acquired Mike Zunino from the Mariners, But their backup situation still isn’t ideal. Currently, Michael Perez is slated to be their backup, and he has less than 75 big league at-bats under his belt. Since the Rays use an “unconventional” strategy with their pitchers, having another veteran catcher to help them all along would be nice to have.
The Rays love getting players on cheap contracts, and Kratz’s $1.2 million salary that he agreed to to avoid arbitration this year certainly won’t break the bank for Tampa.
If no big league opportunities materialize, Kratz could simply choose to retire at 38 years old and move on to the next stage in his life.
It would not surprise me if Kratz retired and stayed with the Brewers organization as a minor league coach, working his way through those ranks. As a veteran catcher, Kratz is an extremely smart guy and he could end up being a big league manager someday.
Or he could simply retire and take some time away from baseball. It’s really up to him, but with how great he is in the clubhouse and how much he knows about the game, coaching is not out of the realm of possibility for him.
There could, of course, be other teams that he could land with, as this is not an all-encompassing list of landing spots for Kratz. But these three teams could be in the market for a backup catcher and his services could fit what those organizations need.
The Milwaukee Brewers look like they aren’t going to keep Kratz around for their big league roster and are searching for a place to put him. If there isn’t a big league spot available for him, retirement may be the best option for him.