Normally this time of year, you hear news of the Brewers signing players away from overseas leagues. Fans aren’t used to see the process work in the opposite direction.
In 2017, Milwaukee brought in first baseman Eric Thames after a successful stint in the KBO. Two years later they signed relief pitcher Jay Jackson who played in the Japanese Leagues. And last year, you saw starting pitcher Josh Lindblom, who also played in the KBO, join the team.
Today, the Brewers overseas pipeline ended up doing a 180. Catcher David Freitas, who had been with the Milwaukee organization since they trade for him from the Seattle Mariners in 2019, reportedly will be taking his talents across the Pacific in 2021.
Freitas, who won a Pacific Coast League batting title as a member of the Brewers’ Triple-A San Antonio Missions in 2019, saw some limited action with the big league team at the end of that season, going 1 for 13 with three walks in 16 pinch hit appearances.
Though David Freitas was occupying one of the Brewers’ 40-man roster spots, a glimpse at the roster explains his decision to go play overseas.
For Brewers fans, it may have felt like their team was collecting catchers this offseason the same way many of those fans collect baseball cards. After their most recent addition of Luke Maile, the Milwaukee roster featured a whopping six catchers.
Omar Narvaez and Manny Pina, who went into the 2020 season as the team’s lead catching tandem, each signed deals ahead of the non-tender deadline to remain with the team in 2021. Barring unforeseen circumstances, they will return to the same roles this upcoming season.
Next, you have the catchers with minor league options in Maile and Mario Feliciano, who was added to the roster in November in order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. They are easy to leave on the roster since they can be stashed in the minors.
That leaves Freitas and fellow optionless catcher Jacob Nottingham. With Nottingham being six years younger, it would be more likely that he would be the one that the Brewers would try to find an active roster spot for over Freitas, though honestly both probably had pretty low odds to begin with due to that lack of minor league options.
Freitas probably saw the writing on the wall, so it makes sense that he would make a move that could give him some actual playing time in a professional league. Unfortunately, he just never got a chance to break through with the Brewers.