It has been a free agent bonanza around Major League Baseball in the days and hours leading up to the expiration of the current CBA, and the Milwaukee Brewers decided to get in on the action and make a splash of their own. This afternoon it was reported that the team is inking catcher Brett Sullivan to a major league contract, adding him to the 40-man roster to seemingly serve in a role similar to the one filled by Luke Maile in 2021.
Free-agent catcher Brett Sullivan in agreement with the Milwaukee Brewers on a one-year, major-league contract, according to a source familiar with the situation. Sullivan, who has played six minor-league seasons, will be Brewers’ No. 3 catcher and can play corner INF/OF.— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) November 29, 2021
Sullivan, 28 in February, was a 17th-round pick by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2015 and until now, had spent his entire career climbing that organizational ladder until reaching minor league free agency after the most recent season. He was a participant in the Arizona Fall League in 2017 and had the best year of his career in 2019, batting .280/.333/.459 with 10 home runs and 21 stolen bases in 403 plate appearances for Double-A Montgomery. Sullivan spent 2020 at the Alternate Training Site before making his first go-round in Triple-A in 2021. Across his minor league career, Sullivan is a .271/.317/.426 hitter with 58 home runs and 85 steals in 593 games.
Sullivan was an infielder in college and during the first year of his professional career before moving to primarily behind the plate in 2016. He’s been a seemingly solid receiver and catch-and-throw backstop, including a 30% caught stealing rate in the minor leagues. Sullivan spent a good amount of time in the outfield in recent seasons, in addition to his earlier work on the infield dirt, so he could offer some very intriguing positional versatility to manager Craig Counsell. The left-handed hitter certainly possesses an interesting profile offensively, especially as a catcher; Sullivan stole 15+ bases for four straight seasons from 2016-19, has thrice hit 10+ home runs in a full season, thrives at putting the ball in play (12.4% career strikeout rate), and has increased his walk rate in each of his last three seasons.
Whenever Sullivan plays his first game with the Brewers, it’ll be his big league debut. Having never before been on a 40-man roster, he still has a full slate of three minor league options remaining and could be under team control for the next 6+ years, if the team so chooses (and the new CBA allows). For now, it seems like his most likely destination to begin 2022 will be Triple-A Nashville, where he can split time with top prospect Mario Feliciano behind the plate and serve as a fill-in for the big league roster if something happens with Omar Narvaez of Pedro Severino.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference