The signing of Yasmani Grandal was certainly a positive for the Milwaukee Brewers, but it put Erik Kratz in an awkward position. The front office was up front in telling Kratz that he was now the third catcher on the depth chart behind Grandal and Manny Pina, who agreed to a multi-year deal in arbitration. The only real path for Kratz, who signed a $1.2 mil non-guaranteed deal, to make the big league roster was if either Grandal or Pina suffered an injury during Spring Training.
Cactus League play wraps up today, and the top two catchers both made it through the spring unscathed. The decision was already made that Kratz wouldn’t be traveling with the team as they head to Monteal for their two-game exhibition series while the Brewers worked out a resolution regarding his future, whether it be via trade or waiver claim. It appears as of this morning that the club is close to finding a new home for the 38 year old backstop:
Getting word of #Brewers trading Erik Kratz to the #Giants for a AA middle infielder. I imagine official announcement will be out soon, but until then, let’s just say this is very likely so.— Jim Goulart (@Mass_Haas) March 24, 2019
Kratz became a favorite both with fans and inside the locker room when he was acquired from the Yankees Triple-A roster last May. He hit a home run during his first game with the Brewers and wound up batting .236/.280/.355 with 6 dingers across 67 games and 219 plate appearances, a career-high. Though his contributions with the bat were a little light, Kratz more than earned his keep with his defensive contributions, ranking among the top pitch framers in the game while also throwing out 30% of would-be base stealers. He even got on the mound a few times, too, brandishing a wicked knuckleball while yielding only one earned run with a pair of strikeouts in three one-inning appearances.
Kratz recorded five hits in eight at-bats during his team’s three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the NLDS, posting a 1.375 OPS during the series. He appeared in all seven games of Milwaukee’s Championship series with the Dodgers.
In San Francisco, Kratz figures to become the backup to future Hall of Fame backstop Buster Posey, moving ahead of prospect Aramis Garcia. Kratz slashed .241/.267/.483 with a pair of homers in 30 plate appearances this spring.
#Brewers acquiring shortstop CJ Hinojosa from the #SFGiants, sources tell me and @extrabaggs. Erik Kratz could be the player going to SF.— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) March 24, 2019
Per Robert Murray of The Athletic, the player the Brewers will be acquiring from San Francisco is 25 year old infielder CJ Hinojosa. An 11th-round pick of the Giants back in 2015, the right-handed hitter is a true defensive shortstop who has experience at second and third base in the minors. He has reached as high as the Double-A level and is a .273/.334/.384 hitter with 21 homers and 15 steals across 1,484 minor league plate appearances. He represented the Giants in the Arizona Fall League this past autumn.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference