The options currently on the roster, Brett Sullivan and Mario Feliciano, have a combined one game of MLB experience and the Brewers are on the lookout for someone else to help them navigate the first half of the year while those two get some more seasoning in Triple-A.
David Stearns confirmed the search was on after Severino’s suspension.
Stearns says they’re comfortable with their current options if they have to go with them, but they’re clearly on the lookout for some additional catcher help. They’re calling other teams and the free agent market has almost nothing to offer, so it’ll have to be a trade.
If the Brewers do make a trade to bring in an outside player to fill the backup catcher job, here are three candidates.
1. Orioles C Jacob Nottingham
Run it back! Why not go one more round for old time’s sake with Jacob Nottingham? The Orioles have Robinson Chirinos ahead of him on the depth chart currently and one of the top prospects in all of baseball, Adley Rutschman, ready to go once he’s healthy, which should be soon. His job in Baltimore is likely to only last a few weeks, maybe a month. Once Rutschman is up, he’s done.
So the Orioles can send him to Milwaukee instead, where he’ll have a job for at least the first 80 games of the season instead. It seems a much nicer situation for Nottingham who could finally get a chance to stick on the roster in Milwaukee. He is out of minor league options so they would have to keep him up.
Also, Nottingham is familiar with the majority of the Brewers pitching staff already, so he wouldn’t need as much time to get caught up, no pun intended.
2. Dodgers C Tony Wolters
Tony Wolters have over 5 years of MLB service time, most of it coming with the Colorado Rockies but he spent the 2021 season with the Chicago Cubs, playing only in a handful of games. Wolters is now with the Los Angeles Dodgers on a minor league deal as a non-roster invite.
Wolters is blocked by Will Smith and Austin Barnes in Los Angeles and will spend the entire year in Triple-A with that organization. Instead, he could be an option for Milwaukee to fill as the backup while Severino is out.
Wolters was never regarded as a great hitter and has primarily been a defense-first catcher, even when he was with the Rockies. His defensive metrics have slipped over the past two seasons, but if anyone can fix that, it’s Brewers catching instructor Charlie Greene.
Severino was seen as a poor defender as well but Greene has worked with him and he’s made progress in a short amount of time this spring. Perhaps he could do the same with Wolters if given the chance.
3. Padres C Jorge Alfaro
Jorge Alfaro is stuck in a positional logjam in San Diego. The Padres have Austin Nola and Victor Caratini as catchers on the big league roster, and Alfaro is out of options. He’s slated to make the roster as the third catcher, but it’s a crowded picture. There’s also the Padres big catching prospect in Luis Campusano waiting in the wings behind him.
It may be best for Alfaro to join a new team with more opportunity.
Offensively, Alfaro is a bit of a black hole, but he’s only taking the backup job so the Brewers really wouldn’t be depending on or expecting much offense from him. He walks less than 5% of the time and strikes out over 30% of the time. He has a little pop and hit 18 home runs in 2019 but he hasn’t been in a regular starting role since then.
Defensively, Alfaro is a very solid catcher, earning positive marks. He’s got a strong throwing arm and should fill the backup role well. He’s also a right-handed hitter which pairs well with the lefty-hitting Omar Narvaez.
Whoever the Brewers get, if anyone, will have to learn a new pitching staff quickly. Expectations will primarily center on being strong defensively, which may favor Alfaro and Nottingham will also gain favor because of his familiarity with this pitching staff already.