The Brewers are signing catcher/corner outfielder Brett Sullivan to a major league contract, reports Robert Murray of FanSided (Twitter link). Sullivan, who has yet to appear in the major leagues, became a minor league free agent earlier this month after seven seasons in the Rays’ farm system. The Brewers’ 40-man roster now sits at 38.
Sullivan was selected by Tampa Bay in the 17th-round of the 2015 draft coming out of the University of the Pacific. He’s never appeared on an organizational prospects ranking at either FanGraphs or Baseball America, but the left-handed hitter has typically performed well in the minor leagues. Sullivan posted above-average offensive numbers up through Double-A, very rarely striking out. He’s not drawn many walks or hit for a ton of power, but Sullivan’s ability to put the ball in play allowed him to consistently run high batting averages before 2021.
This past season was a bit of a struggle, as Sullivan sputtered to a .223/.302/.375 line with nine home runs over 345 plate appearances with the Rays’ top affiliate in Durham. Those numbers were depressed by a career-low .244 batting average on balls in play, though. Sullivan only punched out in 15.7% of his Triple-A plate appearances. That mark, while the highest rate of his career, is around seven percentage points lower than the big league average.
Sullivan becomes the third catcher on the 40-man roster, joining starter Omar Narváez and prospect Mario Feliciano. Longtime Brewer Manny Piña departed to join the Braves a few weeks ago. It’s possible Milwaukee continues to hunt for a more experienced backup, but Sullivan has an opportunity to factor into that mix. (It stands to reason the Crew would prefer to get Feliciano everyday reps at Triple-A Nashville as opposed to having him play sporadically in the majors behind Narváez). Sullivan has all three minor league option years remaining, so the Brewers can shuttle him on and off the active roster for the extended future so long as he holds onto a 40-man spot.