On Sunday morning, the Milwaukee Brewers parted ways with veteran catcher Erik Kratz in a trade with the San Francisco Giants.
We knew this was coming. As soon as the news broke that the Milwaukee Brewers had signed Yasmani Grandal to be their starting catcher in 2019, Erik Kratz’s days with this organization were numbered.
That didn’t make the mood any less somber when news came down that the Brewers had traded the fan-favorite to the San Francisco Giants.
In return for the 38 year old Kratz, the Brewers received 24 year old infielder CJ Hinojosa. Hinojosa has spent the majority of the past three seasons in Double-A.
A once-heralded prospect, Hinojosa was ranked as high as 13th overall in the Giants farm system back in 2017. He has since fallen off their Top 30 list after back-to-back sub-.700 OPS seasons.
He’ll hit for a solid batting average, and makes a lot of contact, striking out at just a 13.5% clip for his entire minor league career. Hinojosa doesn’t possess much power and he’s actually pretty slow for a middle-infielder. Because of that, shortstop doesn’t appear to be his long term home and will likely need to move to second base or become a utilityman. Because of his lack of power potential, third base is difficult to see as his long term home.
Hinojosa has struggled since reaching Double-A and has yet to move up to Triple-A. Perhaps a change of scenery and a new ballpark can help with that. There’s still some potential left to unlock with him.
Overall, Hinojosa doesn’t project as a starting player at the big league level at this point, and at most he’ll probably be used as a utility player off the bench. Perhaps he could take over Hernan Perez‘s super-utility role in time, but the lack of speed Hinojosa has could prevent that from happening.
Grading The Trade
There were a number of teams that were after Erik Kratz. To have that much interest in a 38 year old backup catcher that doesn’t normally hit very well is a rare thing. Brewers GM David Stearns can be assumed to have taken the best available deal for Kratz. This wasn’t a fleecing by any means, but it’s a pretty good return.
The Milwaukee Brewers acquired Kratz last May for cash considerations. They got some quality production out of him in 2018 and then flipped him for a young prospect that needed a change of scenery. That’s what we call appreciation of value. An asset was acquired for nearly nothing, and later flipped for a higher price.
Perhaps Hinojosa turns out to be something good, perhaps not. But the Crew added some more young talent to its organization.
The Brewers got someone with potential in return for Kratz, and kept him away from the rival Chicago Cubs, who have been looking for a veteran catcher. This deal was a big win for the Crew.