Despite leading the NL Central with a three-game cushion between them and the Cardinals, the Brewers are clearly not shy about straddling the line between “buyers” and “sellers”. There was no greater evidence of that than today’s trade of Josh Hader, wherein the Brewers subtracted an excellent relief pitcher but supplanted him with other MLB-ready pieces and prospects.
Narvaez would also fit that bill, though in a much different way. The 30-year-old catcher might not be the household name that Hader is, but he’s still a plenty useful player. Though he slumped badly in the shortened 2020 season, he’s been solid since then. Starting with the beginning of the 2021 campaign, he’s played in 182 games and has hit .256/.336/.389. That amounts to a wRC+ of 98, or 2% below league average, though it’s actually 10 points above the average backstop this year. When combined with his quality defense and pitch framing, Narvaez has been worth 4.1 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs, between last season and this one.
The plan at the beginning of the year was for the Brewers to platoon the left-handed-hitting Narvaez with righty Pedro Severino. However, when Severino was given an 80-game suspension for a positive PED test, the club acquired switch-hitter Victor Caratini to take his place. Caratini has gone on to hit .231/.355/.413 this year for a wRC+ of 119. Severino has also returned from his suspension and been hitting well, slashing .235/.350/.353 for a wRC+ of 103, though in just seven games.
Perhaps the club regards this trio of catchers as surplus to requirements and is willing to subtract from it in order to upgrade elsewhere. Caratini and Severino can be kept around next year via arbitration but Narvaez is a pending free agent. His $5MM salary is also the highest of the three. That’s not a bank-breaking sum by the standards of MLB contracts, but still something to be taken under consideration by a Brewers team that generally doesn’t run huge payrolls.
As for who might be interested in Narvaez, the Astros are one theoretical fit. They have apparently balked at the asking price on Willson Contreras and are more interested in Christian Vazquez, though it’s still not clear how willing the Red Sox are to sell. The Guardians are also looking for a backstop upgrade, having recently discussed Sean Murphy with the A’s, though it doesn’t seem like those talks gained much momentum. The Mets and Cardinals are currently without their primary catchers, as James McCann and Yadier Molina are both on the IL at the moment. There are lots of possible fits without many available catchers and seemingly high asking prices on those that are out there, perhaps allowing the Brewers to find a deal to their liking.