On Tuesday, the Milwaukee Brewers reportedly signed catcher Luke Maile while still having to either tender or non-tender Omar Narvaez and Manny Pina.
Wednesday is the deadline for MLB teams to tender contracts to their unsigned players. But before the Milwaukee Brewers made any decisions in that department, on Tuesday, they reportedly signed catcher Luke Maile to a major league deal.
The 29-year-old Maile has been a backup catcher during his first five seasons with Tampa Bay and Toronto. In 2020, he had signed a one-year deal with Pittsburgh and was on track to make the Opening Day roster; however, he fractured his right index finger in an intrasquad game and missed the entire season because of it.
Maile’s best season came in 2018 when he appeared in 68 games — the most of his career — and slashed .248/.333/.366 with an OPS+ of 94 — the league average is 100 — over 202 at-bats.
But unfortunately, that season has been the outlier during his career as the other four years were filled with less than desirable production at the plate. Maile has a career batting average of .198, a career OPS of .556, and an OPS+ of just 51. He’s also prone to striking out with a K-rate of 27.2 percent, and he doesn’t draw many walks either–just 6.1 percent of the time over his career.
Defensively, Maile has been credited with 21 Defensive Runs Saved over his career and has thrown out 33 percent of the attempted base stealers as well–an impressive figure. However, one area defensively that he can improve upon is his pitch framing.
According to Statcast, during the 2019 season — Maile’s last healthy one — he was in the 28th percentile for framing. Now, if you’re looking for a silver lining, Omar Narvaez wasn’t known for his framing abilities either, but he improved during his first season with Milwaukee. Hopefully, Maile sees similar results.
As I alluded to above, today is the day that MLB teams have to decide whether or not to tender contracts, and the fates of both Narvaez and Manny Pina are unknown at this time. So does the addition of Maile mean that either Narvaez or Pina will be non-tendered? Possibly, but I don’t believe that’s the case.
Both Narvaez and Pina are much more proven at the plate than what Maile is, and Pina is the superior defensive catcher. Instead, this could spell trouble for Jacob Nottingham and David Freitas. Neither player has any minor league options left, while Maile still has one. This would allow the Milwaukee Brewers to stash him in Triple-A if needed as the third catcher on the roster behind Narvaez and Pina.
Ultimately, we will find out not too long from now what the future holds for Narvaez and Pina, but one thing we do know is that Luke Maile will be a Milwaukee Brewer in 2021. Now we wait to see where he fits in on this roster.