Brewers Close to Acquiring Catcher Omar Narvaez from Mariners

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December 5, 2019 — Just this morning, beat reporter Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Brewers were close to acquiring catcher Omar Narvaez from the Seattle Mariners.

Narvaez is not new to the trading scene; he was traded to the Mariners by the White Sox last offseason for reliever Alex Colome.

Narvaez, just 27, is a bat-first backstop. His expertise will help fill the offensive void left behind by Yasmani Grandal. In 2019, the left-handed hitter had a slash line of .278/.353/.813 with 22 home runs in 482 plate appearances. Most of his damage done was against right-handed pitchers, hitting .289/.346/.836 with 20 of those home runs in under 400 plate appearances. In each season he’s played, Narvaez’s strikeout rates increased. However, at just 19.1% last season, they still are a touch above-average.

Defensively, however, Omar Narvaez has a lot to improve on. He ranks as only in the 22nd percentile in pitch framing and has only thrown out only 21% of base stealers in 300 games behind the plate. This most likely indicates a platoon situation between him and the more defensive-minded Manny Piña, who matches better against lefties (.319/.395/.965 in 81 plate appearances).

Positionally, Narvaez has logged time at first base in the minor leagues. However, most of them came from 2009 thru 2011. Though he may see time off the position, it’s safe to expect his time will be primarily behind the plate.

Looking at the long-term benefits, Narvaez entered his first year of arbitration talks this winter. He won’t be a free agent until 2023. This yearly end coincides with Christian Yelich‘s contract, which could indicate the current competitive window. It is also uncertain as to what Narvaez will cost the Crew, as Rosenthal only mentions that the Mariners would receive “at least one minor leaguer in return.”

Update: Trade Completed

The trade will see right-handed pitcher Adam Hill and a compensation draft pick head to the Mariners in exchange for Narvaez.

Hill, just 22, was acquired by the Brewers last season in a trade with the New York Mets. In exchange for him, reliever Bobby Wahl and infielder Felix Valerio, the Mets brought in outfielder Keon Broxton. The right-hander finished the season with a 3.92 ERA in 121.2 innings as a starter in Low-A Wisconsin. He typically sat in the low to mid-90’s with his fastball that received some extra action due to his 6-foot-6 frame. He also features a changeup, curveball, and slider that could become average offerings. As a whole, he has a ceiling of a mid to back-end starter should he gain more command and polish with his offspeed. If not, he could end up as a middle or multi-inning reliever.

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