Brewers release veteran backstop who quickly finds new home in AL Central

Austin Nola was given his release by the Brewers and his free agency didn't last long

San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Two
San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Two / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

What was your favorite moment of the Austin Nola era in Milwaukee? The Brewers signed Nola to a minor league contract with a non-roster invite to spring training back on January 5th and then released him on February 22nd, before the Crew even played their first Cactus League game.

There's a big reason for that and that reason is Gary Sanchez. The Brewers signing Sanchez to a one year deal all but guarantees there won't be any opportunity for Nola to crack the big league roster ahead of Eric Haase or Sanchez. In order to do right by the veteran backstop, the Brewers felt it prudent to give Nola his release so he could pursue another opportunity.

That next opportunity came quickly. Just a few minutes after it was announced that Nola was released, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that Nola had a deal in place with a new team, the Kansas City Royals.

Getting a veteran catcher like Nola on a minor league deal to begin with was a huge bargain for the Brewers, even with Nola coming off a down season in 2023. The catching market has since changed now that spring training is underway and Nola now finds himself worthy of a major league contract.

Perhaps the Royals had reached out to Milwaukee indicating their interest in Nola on a majors deal and the Brewers knew they didn't have the opportunity anymore that they sold him on with Sanchez in the picture, and opted to let him go rather than wait until the end of spring training when he could opt out.

This way, Nola can join his new team faster and build a rapport with his new pitching staff through the full slate of Cactus League games instead of having less than a week to learn a whole new staff before the regular season.

If Nola played any other position besides catcher, the Brewers might've been inclined just to keep him around camp, see how he played, and maybe try to swing a trade. But with catchers needing to learn their staffs and needing that time in spring training to build that rapport, the Brewers chose to do right by him and let him go.

The Brewers catching depth chart now has William Contreras, Sanchez, Haase, and Jeferson Quero on the 40 man roster with Brian Navarreto as the only remaining non-roster invite in big league camp.

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