The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired C Omar Narvaez from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for RHP Adam Hill and a competitive balance draft pick in round B.
Throughout his minor league career, Narvaez was not much of a power hitter. While he hit for average in the beginning, Narvaez\’s career high home run total was two through 2017. That includes the minor and major league. Entering part of his third MLB season with the White Sox, Narvaez played in a career high 97 games, and hit nine home runs, four and a half times more than his total the year before. However, the White Sox decided to sell high on Narvaez, and traded him to the Mariners last offseason for future closer Alex Colome. Narvaez got a starting gig in Seattle, and potentially with the help of the juiced baseballs, hit 22 home runs. He also had a .278 batting average, and a .813 OPS. For a catcher, those are good offensive numbers. But, he his main issue is his defense. Narvaez\’s -20 defensive runs saved were the second worst among catchers, only ahead of Pittsburgh\’s Elias Diaz. Boston\’s Xander Bogaerts was the only other player at any position with a lower DRS than Narvaez, at -21. The Brewers needed to replace Yasmani Grandal, the top free agent catcher, who signed with the White Sox. Defensively, Grandal is not great, but he is definitely an improvement to Narvaez. But offensively, the difference is not much. Grandal had a 121 wRC+. Narvaez\’s was 119. He is an underrated catcher.
The Mariners traded Narvaez mainly because they have a replacement for him. Tom Murphy played in just 76 games, but he hit 18 home runs, and had a better wRC+ than both Narvaez and Grandal (126). He also had a positive DRS of six. Murphy, like Narvaez, could be traded. But he is very underrated, and the Mariners should keep him. The backup role could go to Austin Nola, the older brother of Aaron Nola, the Phillies\’ ace. Nola transitioned to catcher in the minor leagues, and debuted in 2019. He hit 10 home runs in 79 games. Only seven of those games saw him play catcher, as he was mainly a first baseman. But with the new hole at catcher, Nola can fill in. Acquired from the Mets last year from Keon Broxton, Hill spent all of 2019 for Single-A Wisconsin. He had a 3.92 ERA with 109 strikeouts in 121.2 innings. The Mets picked him in the 4th round in 2018 from the University of South Carolina. The draft pick might be the more enticing asset acquired. It marks the second consecutive offseason the Brewers traded a competitive balance pick (acquired Alex Claudio from Texas for one).