Recently the Milwaukee Brewers signed catcher Luke Maile to a big league contract. The Brewers also signed Omar Narvaez and Manny Pina prior to the non-tender deadline. Right now Jacob Nottingham and David Freitas are still on the 40-man roster. Thus, Milwaukee has a lot of catchers. The value Maile brings that Nottingham and Freitas do not is a minor league option and perhaps a better defensive profile.
When we think about what to expect from Luke Maile, it begins there. With the minor league option, Maile becomes a solid depth piece. Manny Pina is returning from a knee injury and there is uncertainty about how that might impact him. The depth at the backup catcher spot might be very important in 2021.
Last season, Luke Maile was technically with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Unfortunately he missed the entire season due to a fracture in his right index finger. Over his career he spent time in the Rays’ (2015-2016) and Blue Jays (2017-2019) organizations as well.
The 29-year-old backstop is generally regarded as a strong defender. Unfortunately he has yet to show much with the bat to this point in his career. His career stat lines illustrate this. In 215 games, he has a .198/.252/.304 career slash line. On a more promising note, over 1600 major league innings Maile has +21 DRS, and in 2018 he produced a +8.2 in FRM (framing runs). That was good for the 74th percentile in all of baseball.
Unfortunately, he was not as strong in the framing department compared to the rest of the league in 2019. He was in the 28th percentile that season.
Maile is also pretty good in throwing out would-be base stealers. Over his career, he has thrown out 33% of would-be base stealers and 40% in 2019 alone.
Luke Maile is not in a Brewers’ uniform to be the starting catcher for 2021. In fact the only uniform he might be wearing in 2021 is whatever will be worn by the Triple-A affiliate that partners with Milwaukee next season. He is a depth piece who will be the first or second catcher called up if there is an injury.
What Maile does bring is a competent defender behind the plate. He has produced strong framing numbers in the past. Although his framing grades went down in 2019, the Brewers organization is highly regarded when it comes to catcher development and improvement. It would not be a surprise to see Luke Maile put up quality defensive metrics if/when he plays for Milwaukee. In essence he should be strong across the board as a defensive catcher whether it be calling a game, framing, or controlling an opponent’s running game.
What Luke Maile is not going to be is an offensive threat. Unfortunately, his offensive profile suggests that he will be an out 75% of the time. He obviously feels that he has more in the tank offensively, as he articulated early in 2020. David Stearns is probably not banking on that however. Maile’s solid to very good defensive profile is his calling card, and the Brewers are probably confident they can enhance that.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs