A veteran of six Major League seasons, Maile’s tenure was interrupted by a finger surgery that cost him the entire 2020 season. Playing that year on a split contract with the Pirates, Maile landed with the Brewers on another big league deal last winter and ended up appearing in 15 games with the Brew Crew.
Cleveland declined their club option on longtime catcher Roberto Perez last fall, leaving a vacancy behind the plate. Austin Hedges remains as the de facto starter, while Sandy Leon was also signed to a minor league deal back in November. Maile’s addition will ostensibly push Leon down to Triple-A depth, though it’s probably safe to assume that the Guardians will have Maile and Leon compete for the secondary catching job during Spring Training.
Neither Maile or Leon have shown anything more than flashes of offensive production over their careers, and Hedges has likewise been a glove-first catcher. The Guardians have traditionally prized defense, game-calling, and pitcher management over hitting when it comes to their catchers, and it should seem like Cleveland is aiming in that same direction for 2022, rather than explore picking up a bigger bat as Perez’s replacement.
In order to create space for Maile on the 40-man roster, the Guardians announced they’ve placed right-hander Carlos Vargas on the 60-day injured list. The hard-throwing pitching prospect underwent Tommy John surgery last April, and it seems that recovery timeline will keep him on the shelf for at least the first couple months of this season.