Good news and bad news for Jacob Nottingham fans. The good news is Nottingham has been reinstated from the IL. The bad news is he’s also been designated for assignment.
Catcher Jacob Nottingham has been reinstated from the 10-day injured list and designated for assignment. pic.twitter.com/PoTnaTZrUC— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) April 22, 2021
Nottingham was out of minor league options. Another trip to the minors means that another team can pick him up on waivers. It’s likely someone will bite on Nottingham, a skilled defensive catcher with offensive potential.
The Brewers got a longer look at Nottingham in 2020 after a season-ending Manny Piña injury. He’s a defense-first catcher and has developed into an excellent pitch manager, but he hit just .188 and struck out in 42% of plate appearances in 2020. The poor offensive showing in the shortened season is part of a downward trend at the plate for Nottingham, who profiled as an offense-first catcher when he was first drafted in 2013. He could develop offensively with more regular at-bats, an opportunity that is more likely for him with another team.
For the Brewers, it’s a loss, but a highly reasonable decision made easier by what appears to be a bounceback year for Omar Narváez. Narváez has made significant defensive improvements since joining the Brewers but had a horrible 2020 at the plate. Narváez entered the year confident that he would fare better in a 162 game season, and to begin 2021, he’s slashing .396/.455/.604 and on pace to have a 30 HR and 100 RBI. Considering the small sample size and the wear and tear of catching most games, Narváez will probably even out nearer to his 162-game average offensive production, .272/.358/.406 with about 15 HR and 50 RBI.
In the backup catcher spot, the Brewers know what they’re getting with Manny Piña. He is reliable as they come defensively, immeasurably valuable as a pitcher developer, and productive enough off the bench, considering his defensive value and the few plate appearances he’s likely to get behind Narváez.