Veteran catcher Wil Nieves has rejected his outright assignment from the Padres in favor of free agency, reports Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Nieves had been designated for assignment last week in order to clear a spot on the 40-man and 25-man roster for top prospect Austin Hedges.
The 37-year-old Nieves received scarce playing time with the Friars due to iron man Derek Norris’ impressive workload, and he ultimately collected just one hit in his second stint with the Padres. It was a big one though, as Nieves drilled a grand slam that proved to be the difference in San Diego’s April 12 victory over the division-rival Giants.
In parts of 12 big league seasons, Nieves is a .241/.280/.317 hitter and has thrown out 24 percent of would-be base stealers. He’s graded out as anywhere from average to slightly above average in terms of pitch-framing over the past five seasons, and the same holds true of his blocking skills, per Baseball Prospectus’ catching defense metrics. Nieves could slot in nicely to a team looking for a backup catcher. Of late the Royals, Mariners and Orioles were all connected to catching help (i.e. Jarrod Saltalamacchia), and I’d imagine that the D-Backs and Indians could serve as potential landing spots for a backup catcher as well.