All good things must come to an end. In this case, we’re referring to the man….er, pineapple….who was the longest-tenured Brewers player in 2021.
Catcher Manny Pina had been with the Milwaukee Brewers since being traded there by the Detroit Tigers in the deal that sent away reliever Francisco Rodriguez back in 2015. He would make his debut with the team the next season.
Six seasons and 409 games later, Pina has played the role of backup as well as starter. He has seen losing seasons and winning ones. And he has also taken part in a club record four straight postseason appearances, a streak that was extended in 2021.
What Pina hadn’t seen yet, though, was free agency. In each of his arbitration years, his services had always been retained by Milwaukee. But with his arbitration period over, the team let him hit free agency this offseason.
However, with no clear option to back up Omar Narvaez at the catcher position heading into 2022, there was always a chance that Pina could be brought back on a free agent deal. Fans found out on Monday whether that would actually be a possibility.
On Monday, it was announced that Manny Pina would officially not be returning to the Brewers in 2022.
While there was always a chance that Pina could return to Milwaukee, there was just as much of a chance that 29 other teams might sign him instead. On Monday, FanSided’s own Robert Murray announced the 34-year-old’s destination.
For the Braves, they get one of the more solid veteran catchers in the league. While Pina may never be an offensive juggernaut, he can hold his own at the plate in big moments. More importantly, he’s one of the best defensive catchers in the game as well as one of the better game callers, a quality that will benefit Atlanta’s good, young starting pitching staff.
For Brewers fans, they unfortunately lose a huge fan favorite. Pina had endeared himself to the fanbase, not to mention his teammates, over the years due to his infectious personality. One might say he has quite the singing voice as well.
With Pina gone, it raises questions as to Milwaukee’s plans for backup catcher in 2022. Luke Maile also saw time backing up Narvaez at the position in 2021. He elected free agency, though, after being outrighted to the minors after the season.
That leaves MLB Pipeline’s No. 13 Brewers prospect, the 22-year-old Mario Feliciano, as the only other catcher on the 40-man roster. He was just added to the roster last offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. And though he had a down season in 2021 in which he battled injury, he has looked better in Arizona Fall League action.
It’s hard to say whether 2022’s Brewers catching group will include Feliciano, a Maile return, or a still unknown option, but we do know that it sadly won’t include Pina.