We’re nearing the end of spring training and that means some roster shuffling as the Brewers make decisions on who they want to keep around through the 2021 season. For these three players, it may mean they get shuffled out of their roster spot.
The Brewers front office prides itself on accumulating a ton of depth on its 40 man roster. That means a lot of competition and a lot of supply for a very limited amount of spots. For the players that have spots but are near the bottom end of the roster, there’s always a handful of players ready to take that spot immediately.
Having that kind of depth encourages competition and in turn leads to better performances all around.
However, some players haven’t been able to turn in better performances, which means their 40 man roster spots with the Brewers are in jeopardy.
These three players could lose their 40 man spots very soon.
1. C Jacob Nottingham
Nottingham is out of minor league options and is the 3rd catcher on the depth chart. The Brewers are extremely unlikely to carry a third catcher on the 26 man roster. On top of that, Nottingham had offseason thumb surgery and hasn’t been cleared to catch in games yet. He’s gotten some ABs in spring training as a DH, but that’s it.
The Brewers are taking it slow with Nottingham’s return to catching, partially because the thumb in question is on his glove hand, and one awkward pitch can injure that thumb again.
Nottingham can’t be sent down to the minor leagues again without being put on waivers first, where every team would have a chance to claim him. With other teams still having their rosters in flux and the need for a young, backup catcher is always out there at the end of spring, Nottingham wouldn’t last long on waivers and the Brewers would lose him for nothing. Or they could try to trade him for a low or mid-level prospect, such as they did with Erik Kratz at the end of spring 2019.
But what’s starting to become obvious is that the Brewers don’t want to lose Nottingham, despite the fact that they haven’t given him much of a chance for regular at-bats in the big leagues.
Here’s how this is likely to play out with Nottingham: He gets put on the 10 day IL to start the season, and about two weeks into the season he should be healthy and able to catch games. Then the Brewers will activate him, and if Narvaez and Pina are still both healthy, they’ll try to outright Nottingham to the minors and sneak him through waivers, hoping no one else will put in a claim since everyone should have their catcher situation figured out by that point in the season.
If the plan works, Nottingham is off the 40 man roster, but stays in the organization in Triple-A. Should a rainy day come before Mario Feliciano is ready, then Nottingham can be brought back up. Signing Luke Maile was an insurance policy in case Nottingham got claimed by someone else.
However the situation plays out, Nottingham is very likely to lose his 40 man roster spot in the coming weeks, again barring an injury to Pina or Narvaez.