The Brewers enter 2022 coming off a 2021 season where they didn’t produce at a high offensive level from the catcher position. While Omar Narvaez got off to a hot start in the season, his batting average and overall production decreased over the course of the season, including a .178 batting average, no HRs, and four RBIs over his last 21 games.
Longtime Brewer Manny Pina departed the Brewers for the Atlanta Braves on a two-year, $8 million contract with a club option for a third year. While Pina batted just .189 last season, his defensive value will be missed this year, as he was a far better defensive option compared to Narvaez.
Between the gradual decline of Narvaez last year and the loss of Pina, the Brewers will look to supplement Narvaez this season with other options behind the plate. On the Brewers’ official depth chart, they list Pedro Severino, Brett Sullivan, and Mario Feliciano as the next three options behind Narvaez, respectively. Let’s take a minute to look at the value of each of these players.
As was mentioned above, Narvaez got off to a hot start in 2021, earning an All-Star appearance on the back of a .301/.396/.470 batting line over 71 first-half games. He finished the season with a .266/.342/.402 batting line to go with 11 home runs, 49 runs batted in. He also finished with a 1.5 WAR — an impressive turnaround following a -0.1 WAR year in 2020 — and a 99 wRC+.
He’ll look to build off of his 2021 season in 2022, as he should see plenty of playing time with a wide gap between himself and the Brewers’ other options behind the plate.
The Brewers added Severino back in November on a one-year, $1.9 million contract. Following several seasons as a second option on the Nationals, Severino saw greater playing time with the Baltimore Orioles over the past three seasons, starting a total of 231 games.
With a career line of .235/.305/.372, Severino won’t add much value offensively, but he has shown flashes of power, totaling 29 home runs over his past three seasons. With those offensive numbers in mind, it seems that Severino should offer similar value to what Pina has added in recent years.
Severino isn’t the greatest option defensively, but he is still a serviceable option, making just four errors and allowing 10 passed balls over 109 games behind the plate last season. Severino will likely see decent playing time this season as the best right-handed option for the Brewers at the catcher position.
Sullivan has yet to make his MLB debut, playing in the minors, overseas, and in independent leagues over the eight years. While he doesn’t have the veteran experience that Narvaez and Severino offer, he does provide more depth and versatility, as he has played every position over the course of his career, most often playing catcher, left field, and shortstop.
Sullivan will likely make an appearance at some point this season, but he definitely won’t be a regular behind the plate barring an extended injury to Narvaez or Severino (knock on wood).
Feliciano made his MLB debut with the Brewers last season, totaling just one plate appearance where he walked and scored a run. Currently listed as the Brewers’ No. 13 overall prospect and No. 2 catching prospect (behind Jeferson Quero), Feliciano figures to get more playing time this season.
Through three ABs thus far in Spring Training, Feliciano has two hits and two RBIs. Across his minor league career, Feliciano has a .253/.313/.388 line. Like Severino, he should bring some pop to the position as well, as he had 19 home runs across a full season between High-A and AA ball in 2019. Feliciano figures to eventually pass Sullivan on the depth chart, perhaps by the end of Spring Training.
Who should the Brewers utilize as a second option behind the plate?
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So there you have it. The Brewers head into 2022 with a clear starter and several serviceable backup options at the catcher position. Stay tuned for more position previews as the 2022 regular season quickly approaches.