26. C Manny Pina
Originally arriving in the Brewers organization as the Player To Be Named Later in the Francisco Rodriguez deal with the Tigers, Pina made his Milwaukee Brewers debut in 2016. After Jonathan Lucroy was traded to Texas on August 1st, the Crew needed another catcher in the big leagues to go with Martin Maldonado, and Pina got the call.
2016: 0.2 WAR
Total WAR: 4.2
In the offseason between 2016 and 2017, Maldonado was traded to the Los Angeles Angels and Jett Bandy, another catcher, came back in return. With Andrew Susac also in the picture after coming over in the Will Smith trade that happened during the 2016 trade deadline, there were three catchers in the fold heading into 2017.
More from Brewers History
- Brewers: Looking at former prospects traded at the Deadline under Stearns
- Remembering Lorenzo Cain’s Top 5 Moments In A Brewers Uniform
- Ranking the Last Five Milwaukee Brewers Memorial Day Wins
- How five former Brewers are doing on their new teams
- How the Milwaukee Brewers Got Their Name
Between Pina, Bandy, and Susac, two of the three would have to separate themselves in spring training, and it ended up being Pina and Bandy. Between those two, Pina performed the best offensively and was a strong defender. He emerged as the starting catcher out of this group. He performed as nearly a two WAR player in 2017 and posted a .751 OPS in 359 plate appearances.
He was a surprising bright spot on a surprising Brewers team that finished just one win shy of a playoff spot.
Pina entered 2018 as the starting catcher, but regressed offensively, down to a .702 OPS. In that offseason, Pina signed a modest contract for $1.6 million with a $1.85 million club option for 2020, avoiding arbitration for the next year. Then the Crew went out and signed Yasmani Grandal to a one year contract.
Grandal was obviously going to be the starting catcher, and Pina went from being the starting catcher to the backup, and accepted his role without any complaint. His ABs dropped from 306 the year before to 158 in 2019.
Pina is a very strong defender, which is where most of his value comes from. He calls a good game, throws the ball well, and frames well.
He’s now in line to be the starting catcher once again with Grandal entering free agency and there’s a good chance Grandal signs elsewhere. Pina has provided solid production for a couple seasons at a premium defensive position. He’s done enough to land at No. 26 on our list.
We’ll continue to countdown our list of the Top 50 Milwaukee Brewers of the 2010s as we’ll reach the top half of our rankings later this week.