With Omar Narvaez departing for the New York Mets in free agency, Pedro Severino suspended for a large chunk of the season and then released, Mario Feliciano designated for assignment and claimed by the Tigers, and Brett Sullivan traded to San Diego prior to the start of 2022, none of the top catchers from the roster last March remain on the team.
Instead, the Brewers head into spring training with a new option in William Contreras along with some familiar faces in Victor Caratini and Alex Jackson, both of whom were acquired just prior to opening day last year. Payton Henry is the fourth option after being acquired in November from the Marlins.
Contreras, whose older brother is William, was an All Star in 2022 and is under club control until 2028. He was acquired in a blockbuster three-team December trade along with two pitchers while the Brewers only had to give up prospect Esteury Ruiz.
While splitting time with Travis d’Arnaud, Contreras appeared in 97 games and slashed .278/.354/.506 with 20 homers and 45 RBIs. Despite being known as a bat-first catcher, the Brewers are known for developing catchers defensively, most recently in the form of Narvaez.
At just 25 years old, Contreras still has plenty of development potential and the Brewers will look to tap into that while he shares reps with Caratini this year.
After a strong start to 2022, Caratini fell off the wagon by the end of the year, finishing with a .199/.300/.342 slash line with nine homers and 34 RBIs across 96 games, although some of that can be attributed to bad luck as he had a .228 batting average on balls in play, far lower than his career mark of .281.
A career .232/.316/.352 hitter, Caratini has shown that he can be an everyday player in the past, so Milwaukee will look to tap into that more in 2023 with the departure of Narvaez. His veteran presence paired with Contreras’ offensive prowess could be a solid pairing for the Crew this season as they prepare for Contreras to take over in 2024.
Jackson, who was acquired from the Marlins after Severino’s suspension last year, primarily played at AAA Nashville last season when healthy. In 31 games with the Sounds, he hit .225/.319/.382 with two homers and 18 RBIs.
In his limited time with the Brewers, he appeared in five games and got three hits, all singles. While he certainly isn’t an everyday player, he’s still just 27 and could be a serviceable replacement in the event of an injury to Contreras or Caratini.
Henry, a former sixth round pick by Milwaukee in 2016, was acquired from Miami for outfielder Reminton Batista back in November. While he only has 20 major league games under his belt, he’s shown flashes of potential while in the minors.
Across 398 career minor league games, he’s slashed .246/.332/.393 with 40 home runs and 206 RBIs. In 15 games with the Marlins last season, he hit .143/.314/.143 with four hits and five walks compared to eight strikeouts before two stints on the injured list.
Like Jackson, he’s still young (25) and while he likely isn’t an everyday player, he provides more depth for Milwaukee in 2023.