Brewers acquire Caratini to address C depth

Milwaukee also completes trade with Marlins for catcher Alex Jackson

April 6th, 2022

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers moved decisively on the eve of Opening Day to replace suspended catcher Pedro Severino, sending two players to the Padres for switch-hitting former Cub Victor Caratini.

San Diego gets a pair of super versatile defenders in return: catcher Brett Sullivan, who also plays the infield and outfield; and 23-year-old Korry Howell, MLB Pipeline’s No. 15 Brewers prospect, who started games at shortstop, third base and all three outfield positions during a breakthrough 2021 season in the Minors.

That cost reflected the immediate need for the Brewers after MLB suspended Severino on Tuesday for the first 80 games of the regular season following a positive test for violating the league’s Joint Drug Treatment and Prevention Program. By rule, Severino is also ineligible for postseason play. With the free-agent market thin and their in-house options limited -- Sullivan and Mario Feliciano were on the 40-man roster but have combined for one Major League plate appearance -- the Brewers sought a trade.

“Clearly, this is a move that stems from Pedro Severino’s positive test and suspension, not something that we were looking to do prior to that,” Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said. “But once that happened, we began calling around, seeing what catchers might be available, and Caratini is someone who we’re very familiar with and have had interest in before.”

Brewers get: C/UTIL Victor Caratini
Padres get: C Brett Sullivan, INF/OF Korry Howell

Caratini is already well-traveled. He was a second-round Draft pick of the Braves in 2013 who was sent to the Cubs at the 2014 Trade Deadline and then traded to the Padres in the December 2020 blockbuster that sent Yu Darvish to San Diego.

Like Severino, he has some power; Caratini hit 11 home runs for the Cubs in 95 games in 2019. Also notable is that Caratini’s production has been better as a right-handed batter, making him a logical platoon mate with the Brewers’ left-handed-hitting starter at catcher, Omar Narváez. The Brewers will be mindful, manager Craig Counsell said, of not overburdening Narváez, who was an All-Star last season on the strength of an .866 OPS in the first half but slumped to a .592 OPS in the second half.

Asked what the Brewers particularly like about Caratini, Stearns said, “I think first and foremost this is someone who’s done this job before. He’s been a big league catcher. He’s been in this division. He understands what this job entails. The switch-hitter profile is a bonus here having someone who could bat from both sides of the plate, it gives the manager a little bit extra versatility in terms of how he uses them. And while we look at him primarily as a catcher, this is someone who has played other positions, adding to the usefulness on the roster. And then defensively, he knows how to handle a pitching staff.

“We would have been comfortable with Mario and Brett filling this role. We think both those guys are talented players, and there’s a reason why San Diego wanted Brett in return here. So, we would have been comfortable with that. There was sort of a meaningful bar that deals were going to have to clear for us to bring in an outside player in our minds. Caratini clears that bar.”

Stearns said the Brewers were working on whether Caratini could get to Wrigley Field in time for Thursday’s 1:20 p.m. CT first pitch. He was still in Arizona, where the Padres open their regular season against the D-backs.

The Caratini trade was the first of two swaps by the Brewers on Wednesday. Because the departure of Sullivan opened a hole at Triple-A Nashville, they also acquired catcher Alex Jackson from the Marlins for infielder Hayden Cantrelle and right-hander Alexis Ramirez, and they assigned Jackson to Nashville. Cantrelle was Milwaukee’s No. 26 prospect, per MLB Pipeline.