The Milwaukee Brewers have a number of free agents hitting the market this year, including starting catcher Omar Narvaez. It's early in free agency, but his name is already generating buzz.
Omar Narvaez has been the Brewers catcher for the last three years. He was acquired in a trade with the Seattle Mariners prior to the 2020 season for a competitive balance draft pick and minor league pitcher Adam Hill.
Offensively, Narvaez has had two very disappointing seasons and one solid season. The Brewers successfully improved his defensive ability but his offense took a step back. After a poor season in 2022, Narvaez is hitting the market at a bad time. But that doesn't mean teams won't be interested.
In fact, one of the teams who has seen Narvaez the most the last three years is discussing a free agent pursuit of Narvaez.
The Chicago Cubs are rumored to have interest in signing Brewers free agent catcher Omar Narvaez.
Cubs reporters Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sarma of The Athletic reported that the Cubs are expected to add a veteran catcher this offseason to help replace their loss of Willson Contreras. It sounds as if Contreras is a lock to not return to Chicago. In that case, they want a veteran to take his place and Narvaez is one of the better options on the market.
Granted, Narvaez being one of the better options doesn't say a lot about the free agent catcher market. Christian Vazquez is another name that was mentioned that the Cubs were interested in, and the Brewers might even have interest in Vazquez as well.
The Brewers likely won't be too upset if Narvaez departs this offseason given his struggles at the plate, but it would be tough to see him turn around and put on a Cubs uniform. Narvaez is very familiar with the Crew's pitching staff and has handled them incredibly well. His knowledge of the Brewers staff may be a reason the Brewers could want him back and it could be one of the reasons the Cubs want to sign him away.
Narvaez, turning 31 next season, has reached free agency for the first time in his career. He has a career .258/.343/.386 slash line with a career OPS+ of 100, exactly league average. Among catchers, however, that is above-average production.
However, in the last three years, Narvaez has put up OPS+ numbers of 53, 101, and 71. The Brewers simply didn't get enough offensive production from Narvaez, who was regarded as an offense-first catcher.
The catching market likely won't move too much until Willson Contreras is signed. When the top option on the market goes and sets the price, all the teams that miss out on Contreras will turn their attention to a guy like Omar Narvaez. If the Brewers do want him back, they'll face at least some competition and likely from their division rival.