Austin Nola’s fall from grace lands him with NL Central team on minor-league deal

Austin Nola's stock has plummeted since 2022.
San Diego Padres catcher Austin Nola
San Diego Padres catcher Austin Nola / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

A rather fun and heart-warming talking point emerged during the 2022 National League Championship Series when both Aaron and Austin Nola squared off against one another with a trip to the World Series on the line.

Of course, Friars fans know all too well that the younger brother won that exchange. While Aaron Nola was the losing pitcher in Game 2 of that series, Austin and the San Diego Padres fell to the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1.

Austin Nola was just 1-for-19 during the 2022 NLCS, and since then, things have gotten even worse for the backstop. While his younger brother cashed in on a multi-million dollar deal with the Phillies, Nola had to resort to inking a minor-league contract with hopes of remaining in the big leagues next season.

Austin Nola signs minor-league deal with Brewers

Austin Nola was non-tendered by the San Diego Padres last November after a horrific showing at the plate during the 2023 season. Nola hit just .146/.260/.192 in 52 games with the Padres. But the Milwaukee Brewers are willing to give the 34-year-old a chance to redeem himself. The Brewers signed Nola to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training.

Nola's 2023 struggles saw the Padres option him to Triple-A in mid-July. San Diego then went with a catching combo of veteran Gary Sanchez and 2022 rookie Luis Campusano for the remainder of the season.

According to San Diego Union-Tribune, Nola was diagnosed with oculomotor dysfunction, a vision issue that impacts the brain’s ability to coordinate eye movement. And while that could definitely be a reason for Nola's woeful performance at the plate, the Padres were not going to pay the estimated $2.35 million (via MLB Trade Rumors) needed to retain the catcher heading into the 2024 season.

The Brewers have a full house when it comes to who'll be hanging the signs for their pitching staff next season. In addition to Austin Nola, the Brew Crew have three catchers on their 40-man roster. If Nola wants to be part of Milwaukee's Opening Day roster, he'll face stiff competition from the likes of William Contreras, Eric Hasse, and Jeferson Quero.

The San Diego Padres, on the other hand, will roll into Peoria with the trio of Campusano, former Brewers backstop Brett Sullivan, and veteran Kyle Higashioka. The former New York Yankees catcher is a much more polished defender, so the Padres are hoping for better results behind the plate in 2024.