When the Brewers found themselves with a 2021 All-Star and a 23-year-old prospect as the only backstops on their 40-man roster, finding more catching depth seemed like an obvious offseason priority. Consider that need addressed.
It started off last week when the team signed free agent catcher Pedro Severino to a one-year contract. That gave the team a probable backup to Omar Narvaez, but three catchers still probably wouldn’t be enough for Milwaukee.
So on Monday, when a number of big deals were getting announced all day for other teams, the Brewers made another small splash signing of their own. Theirs ended up in them likely rounding out their catching crew for 2022.
On Monday, the Brewers signed former Tampa Bay Rays farmhand, catcher Brett Sullivan.
A 2015 draft pick by the Tampa Bay Rays who had spent his entire career so far in their system, Brett Sullivan reportedly gets a one-year major league deal from the Brewers. The deal was reported by FanSided’s Robert Murray.
While Sullivan receives a major league contract from Milwaukee, he hasn’t actually cracked the big leagues yet in his career. All six of his professional seasons have been spent as a Tampa minor leaguer.
Sullivan has a career .271/.317/.426 slash line in the minors while hitting at least .260 at four out of five minor league levels. He doesn’t hit for a ton of power with just 58 homers in 593 games to his name, but his 142 career doubles helped bring him to a decent career .743 OPS. He also has surprisingly decent speed for a catcher with double digit steals in four minor league seasons.
After the lost 2020 season, Sullivan struggled a bit at Triple-A Durham in 2021, slashing .223/.302/.375 in 90 games. He bounced back a bit this winter playing with Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League (the same team top Brewers pitching prospect Ethan Small played for this winter) as he slashed .273/.360/.364 in 14 games.
Sullivan does bring one talent that the Brewers love: positional versatility. Though he is primarily a catcher, he has played 75 games in left field over his last two minor league seasons and though it was during his rookie league days, he has 64 games of minor league experience at third base as well.
Even if Sullivan never turns out to be an offensive juggernaut, his ability to play multiple positions and the fact that he has a full slate of minor league options gives the Brewers exactly what they want out of a third string catcher. If he can bring solid defense as well, that completes the package.
While the Sullivan signing may not be the big move Brewers fans have been waiting for this offseason, it does mean that one of the team’s offseason needs can probably be checked off as complete.