Fire up the hot stove!
The Milwaukee Brewers have reportedly made their first addition of the 2020-21 offseason, with news breaking this evening that the club has agreed to terms on a major league deal with catcher Luke Maile.
Free-agent catcher Luke Maile in agreement with Brewers on major-league contract, pending physical, sources tell The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 2, 2020
Maile, who turns 30 in February, was originally an eighth-round pick by Tampa Bay in 2012 and is a veteran of parts of five MLB seasons with the Rays and Blue Jays. He debuted at age 24 as a September call-up in 2015. Maile was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays in April of 2017 and saw pretty consistent playing time in the next three years as a backup. His best season came in 2018, when he appeared in a career-high 68 games and took 231 turns at the plate. That year Maile hit .248/.333/.366 with three home runs for a 95 wRC+; for his career, Luke owns a .198/.252/.304 slash line (48 wRC+) across 657 plate appearances. Maile was non-tendered by the Blue Jays after the 2019 season and latched on with the Pirates, but missed all of 2020 after fracturing a finger during an intrasquad game.
When healthy, Maile has been a solid defender behind the dish; he’s graded at +21 Defensive Runs during his 1601 innings as a backstop and rated positively as a pitch-framer each season from 2016-19. He owns a career 33% caught stealing rate (with league average falling at 28% during that time).
As Adam McCalvy points out, one important aspect to this transaction is that the right-handed hitting Maile has a minor league option remaining. Other advanced 40-man roster catchers Manny Pina, Jacob Nottingham, and David Freitas are out of options and would need to clear waivers in order to be sent to the minors, and decisions still need to be made regarding whether to tender Pina and Omar Narvaez contracts in arbitration, as well.
Maile has just over four years of MLB service time, meaning that the Brewers could control his contract through the 2022 season if they so choose.