MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers added to an already deep catching corps on Tuesday by finalizing an agreement with free agent Luke Maile on a one-year big league contract that provides some roster flexibility.
Maile, 29, has modest offensive numbers (.198/.252/.304) over parts of five seasons as a backup catcher with the Rays and Blue Jays, and he was positioned to make the Pirates’ Opening Day roster in 2020 before fracturing his right index finger in an intrasquad game and missing the entire season. He has a Minor League option remaining.
The terms of Maile’s contract are not known. Although known as a defender while getting only sporadic at-bats in the Majors, he was a potent hitter at the University of Kentucky and in the Minor Leagues with the Rays, who selected him in the eighth round of the 2012 MLB Draft. Maile posted on-base percentages of .377, .351 and .341 in his three full Minor League seasons with Tampa Bay before beginning five straight seasons of either yo-yoing between the Majors and Minors, or serving as a Major League backup.
With the Maile signing, the Brewers have six catchers on the 40-man roster, including incumbents Omar Narváez and longtime backup Manny Piña, each of whom inked one-year deals of their own last week to avoid arbitration. Narváez was acquired last December in a trade with the Mariners to be Milwaukee’s primary catcher, but he slumped to a .562 OPS in 2020. Piña missed the final month-plus of the season and underwent surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee.
Of the players on the 40-man roster, Piña, Nottingham and Freitas are out of options. Narváez, Maile and Feliciano have options remaining, meaning they can be moved between the Majors and Minors without being exposed to waivers. The Brewers have made liberal use of options under president of baseball operations David Stearns, shuffling players up and down based on need.
“We’ve got a lot of catchers, many of them with experience at the Major League level,” Stearns said in the wake of the tender deadline. “We think all of them have the ability to contribute at the Major League level. It will give us time over the coming months to sort through all of that.”