In the first move for the Brewers of the 2020-2021 offseason, they have added a catcher to the big league roster.
If you had signing Luke Maile to a major league contract as the first move Brewers President of Baseball Ops David Stearns made this winter on your bingo card, congratulations! You win….something.
The Brewers catching group was lacking offensively in 2020 and now they’ve added to the group.
Who Is Luke Maile?
Maile, 29, has been a backup catcher for the Blue Jays and Rays over the past five seasons. He signed with the Pirates for 2020, but an unfortunate hit by pitch in camp prevented him from playing in 2020.
Ken Rosenthal was first to report the signing.
At the plate, Maile’s best season came in 2018. For the Blue Jays that year, he hit .248/.333/.366 with three homers, 27 RBIs, and a 94 OPS+ in 68 games played.
68 games is the most he’s ever played in a big league season in his five year career.
In 215 total games and 605 at-bats, Maile has a career slash line of .198/.252/.304, which is hardly inspiring.
Defensively, Maile is a very good catcher. He’s caught 33% of attempted base stealers in his career, which is an excellent mark. He caught 40% of would-be base stealers in 2019. He’s amassed 21 Defensive Runs Saved, per Baseball Reference, in just over 1,600 innings behind the plate.
Essentially, Maile is a quality backup catcher.
What Does The Luke Maile Signing Mean?
This is very interesting news, and the timing is also of note.
Wednesday, which is tomorrow, is the non-tender deadline and both of the Brewers current catchers are arbitration eligible. If the Brewers planned on tendering both Manny Pina and Omar Narvaez, signing Maile wouldn’t really be necessary.
Another important note comes from Adam McCalvy, who reports that Maile does have a minor league option remaining. Even though he was signed to a major league deal, the Brewers can still stash him in the minors if need be, so this may not automatically mean one of Pina or Narvaez is non-tendered.
This may put some writing on the wall for David Freitas or Jacob Nottingham, however. Freitas is out of options and fourth on the depth chart. Nottingham is now out of minor league options, too, meaning he’ll have to be put on the big league roster or be designated for assignment.
The addition of Maile on a major league contract speaks to what the Brewers think of Maile’s ability. Of the Brewers current group of Pina, Narvaez, and Nottingham behind the plate, this likely means at least one of them won’t be on the Brewers roster in 2021.
This is the first of many moves the Brewers will have to make this offseason. The first place they addressed was the catching position.