Padres News: Team Signs Wil Nieves to Minor League Deal


The backup to Derek Norris at catcher has another competitor.  The San Diego Padres added veteran Wil Nieves via a minor league deal, according to FriarWire.  The 37-year old will compete primarily with Tim Federowicz for second on the depth chart at catcher. 

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At this point in his career, what can we expect from Nieves?  Let’s start with his offense. Over the past two seasons as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Philadelphia Phillies, Nieves combined for a .281/.301/.360/.661 in 107 games.  Frankly, an 82 OPS+ is not bad for the backup behind the plate. He has limited power and over his career, has displayed a deteriorating ability to draw walks – not a good trend.  Unfortunately, age is not on Nieves’s side. While the past two years paint a good picture, his 36 games last year do not. His OBP was a meager .270 with an OPS of only .614, and did so in the hitter’s haven that is Philadelphia.  Perhaps he will play better in Petco because power really isn’t part of his game.

Now onto the defense.  Let’s be honest, if he weren’t a competent defender, that career .598 OPS would have kicked him out of MLB a long time ago. The journeyman Nieves is slightly above average behind the plate. He threw out 30% of would-be base stealers last season and 28% in 2013 (28% league average in both seasons).  He did post a .7 dWAR in 36 games last season, which is impressive.

A side note…  this feels like a classic Padre move: bring in the older player past his prime who was once with the team (in 2002). In past years, this would have been yet another eye roller.  A cheap move meant to make it seem like the front office was doing something.  But now it’s more of a footnote to all of the moves GM A.J. Preller has made. Sure, this would have never been front-page news, but I don’t feel the impulse to roll my eyes and shake my head at a classic Padre move now.

So anyways…  Don’t look for Nieves to come out of nowhere like Rene Rivera did last year. Don’t look for him to rip the starting job away from Derek Norris. But expect him to compete for that backup catcher’s role.  Federowicz by age 27 has not proven that he can hit in the majors yet (career .247 OBP) and Austin Hedges is a couple years away from playing his home games at Petco.  This may be a move that affects the Padres’ season.

Next: Derek Norris Should Lead Off

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