The Brewers were on the verge of a Major League deal with free agent catcher Wil Nieves late Tuesday, according to FoxSports.com.
Nieves, 33, spent the past three seasons with the Washington Nationals and was non-tendered last week. He batted .203 in 158 at-bats in 2010 and threw out 10 of 41 base-stealers.
He’s played parts of seven seasons in the Major Leagues with the Padres, Yankees and Nationals and it was not immediately clear whether Nieves was the type of player that new Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Tuesday he would like to pair with 24-year-old starting catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
Lucroy broke into the Majors in 2010 and Roenicke said he sees Lucroy playing 100-120 games next season.
“The other guy, whoever his backup is going to be, is going to get some playing time,” Roenicke said in an afternoon meeting with reporters.
Having a veteran behind Lucroy “will just help that young guy understand what it takes to be that total package catcher,” Roenicke said. “It’s not just blocking balls. It’s not just throwing out runners, but it is about game calling, and it is the communication that you have with a pitcher, and when he’s struggling and in between innings you walk over to talk to him about what’s going on and try to get him back on the right track.
“That takes a lot of experience. But when you have an experienced guy out there helping you with it, it makes it a lot easier.”
If the Nieves signing becomes official, the Brewers would have four catchers on the roster with Lucroy, Nieves, George Kottaras and Minor Leaguer Martin Maldonado. Kottaras is out of options and batted .203 with 10 home runs last season in 212 at-bats. He threw out four of 48 would-be basestealers, or 8.3 percent.
In October, the Brewers also signed Mike Rivera to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League camp. Rivera was the Brewers’ backup catcher from 2006-09.