The Brewers traded catcher Matt Treanor to the Rangers on Monday for Minor League infielder Ray Olmedo, a move that put George Kottaras on the inside track to open the season as Milwaukee’s backup catcher.
“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised,” Treanor said. “It’s a really good situation for me and hopefully it works out for the Brewers as well. … It’s a good feeling to know that you’re wanted.”
The Brewers made four other moves before Monday’s game against the Dodgers: Pitcher Josh Butler and infielder Adam Heether were optioned to Triple-A Nashville and outfielder Trent Oeltjen was returned to Minor League camp. The Brewers also added infielder Trent Green to big league camp as a nonroster player.
Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash cautioned against anointing Kottaras the backup to Brewers catcher Gregg Zaun just yet, but the only other catcher still on the camp roster is Jonathan Lucroy, who topped out at Double-A Huntsville last season.
The Rangers are off on Tuesday so Treanor’s first opportunity to meet his new teammates will come Wednesday. The Minor League contract that Treanor signed with the Brewers includes a March 30 “out” clause that allows him to elect free agency if he is not added to the 40-man roster.
Even if he does not make Texas’ big league club, the Rangers probably offer a better opportunity for Treanor than Milwaukee, where Lucroy and fellow prospect Angel Salome represent something of a Triple-A logjam.
“Basically I’m going to be in the same boat over there as I am here, competing for a job,” Treanor said. “From what it sounds like, I have a good opportunity [to begin the season in the Majors]. I just have to go over there and catch as many guys as I can and learn the staff and become a part of the Texas Rangers’ organization.”
The tough part is that Treanor was just getting comfortable in his Brewers jersey, a month into camp. Now he has two weeks to learn an entirely new slew of pitchers.
“That’s the way the game is,” he said. “I’m not accustomed to this situation. I was with Florida for 11 years after my first trade [from the Royals to the Marlins in July 1997] and you get kind of used to the guys. … Any time you get sent out it’s a weird feeling. I think I’m definitely taking this better than I did when I was 21, 22 years old. It’s a part of the game and a lot of guys do it.”
Kottaras was the Brewers’ pick for a number of reasons, including the fact he is already on the 40-man roster and is out of Minor League options. Kottaras, 26, is also eight years younger than the veteran Treanor and offers more of an offensive element than the defense-first Treanor.
“They had a stronger need for catching than we had, and considering how our situation was unfolding, we felt it was wise to make that maneuver now to give us more depth on the Triple-A infield,” Ash said. “[Treanor] is a good veteran guy. He knows how to handle a staff. But when you’re trying to blend the present to the future, it made more sense to go this way.”
“George is an outstanding talent,” Treanor said. “He likes to work, he’s very organized. Maybe that’s why the move was made; maybe I wasn’t going to make the team.”
Olmedo can play second base, third base and shortstop. Olmedo, 28, has played professionally since 1999 with time in the Major Leagues with Cincinnati (2003-06) and Toronto (2007), hitting .228 in 198 games.
Olmedo was in Texas’ big league camp as a nonroster invitee, but he will report to Milwaukee’s Minor League camp.