6:29pm: It’s a $1.175MM guarantee, reports Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer. There’s an additional $25K bonus attainable if Maile appears in 80 games next season.
4:25pm: The Reds announced they’ve signed catcher Luke Maile to a one-year contract. Financial terms of the deal have not yet been reported. Maile is a client of Meister Sports Management. Cincinnati’s 40-man roster count is up to 39.
Maile, 32 in February, has spent his career bouncing around the league as a depth option. He’s played parts of seven big league campaigns, suiting up with the Rays and Blue Jays early in his career. He spent the 2021 season with Milwaukee and inked a $900K guarantee with the Guardians this past spring.
The University of Kentucky product opened the season on the injured list with a left hamstring strain, but he was reinstated by mid-April. He spent the rest of the year on the active roster, logging a bit less action in a timeshare with Austin Hedges. Maile made 76 appearances, hitting .221/.301/.326 with a trio of home runs across 206 plate appearances. While he was arbitration eligible for a final time this winter, Cleveland non-tendered him in lieu of a projected $1.3MM salary.
Maile has 306 games of big league experience under his belt. He’s a career .207/.268/.314 hitter but has a solid reputation as a defender. Defensive Runs Saved gave him average marks in just over 500 innings of work last season, but that metric has pegged him 21 runs better than par over the course of his career. Statcast has given him mixed reviews as a pitch framer in recent years. It’s credited him with an above-average throwing arm, though, with a 1.96-second average pop time (time to throw to second base on a steal attempt) that ranked 28th among 72 catchers with 10+ throws.
With over five years of big league service time, Maile is on track to return to the open market at the end of next season. For the 2023 campaign, he’ll presumably settle into his familiar role as a backup. Cincinnati is sure to give the lion’s share of playing time to Tyler Stephenson, who looks like one of the top young backstops in the game. The Reds cycled through a number of depth options behind him this year, giving brief looks to each of Aramis Garcia, Austin Romine, Michael Papierski, Mark Kolozsvary, Chuckie Robinson and Chris Okey.
None of that group is still in the organization. Romine reached free agency, while Okey, Robinson, Papierski and Garcia were all let go. Kolozsvary was lost on waivers to the Orioles. Maile joins Stephenson as the only backstops on the 40-man roster, and Cincinnati could look to bring in another depth player on a minor league deal later in the offseason.