3. Omar Narvaez
Frankly, outside of Yelich, Woodruff, and Hiura, there aren’t too many great candidates for contract extensions. A lot of veterans are signed on one-year contracts and most are coming off poor seasons with the Brewers hoping for a bounceback, which means at this stage of the game, it’s too early to determine who to bring back for more seasons.
One player who’s different from that group is Omar Narvaez. The Crew acquired him from Seattle just a few weeks after Yasmani Grandal signed with the White Sox. Narvaez is in his first year of arbitration, having settled with the Brewers at $2.725MM for 2020. He’s under team control for three seasons, through the 2022 campaign.
With the closest catching prospects having spent last season in High-A, the Brewers are a bit further away from their catcher of the future. Mario Feliciano and Payton Henry could end up proving worthy of the starting job one day, and likely before Narvaez’s currently scheduled time in Milwaukee is up.
But Narvaez is just 28 years of age and could still be a very good catcher for the next 5-7 years, not just the next three years the Brewers have him for. If you’ve got a good catcher, common sense says to keep him.
A left-handed hitter, Narvaez is one of the top offensive catchers in the league, blasting 22 homers last year and hitting .278/.353/.460 with a 120 OPS+ with the Mariners. For comparison sake, Grandal hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and a 119 OPS+. Narvaez has just slightly lower power, draws fewer walks, but gets more base hits.
The issue with extending Narvaez already is that he has a lot of work to do defensively, particularly with framing, and while the Brewers are confident they can help him improve in that area, it’s too early to tell if that’s going to work.
It’s probably too early to extend Narvaez with the defensive flaws that he has and the Brewers will need at least a full season to determine if he’s improved enough to merit a contract extension. While it probably won’t happen this spring, an extension for Narvaez should not be ruled out down the road.
The Brewers may or may not choose to start extension talks with any one of these three players this spring. If they do, Woodruff and Hiura make the most sense to sign to deals.