The Brewers announced they have acquired infielder Owen Miller from the Guardians in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. To make room on the 40-man roster, catcher Mario Feliciano has been designated for assignment.
Miller, 26, was originally drafted by the Padres but came over to the Guardians in the Mike Clevinger trade in 2020. He cracked the club’s 40-man roster in May 2021. Though he’s always hit well in the minors, he’s struggled at the big league level so far. In 190 MLB games, hit batting line is .231/.283/.338. That production is 26% below league average, as evidenced by his 74 wRC+.
The bulk of Miller’s major league experience came this past season. He hit .243/.301/.351 in 472 trips to the dish. Miller connected on just six home runs, but he rapped out 26 doubles and showed excellent contact skills. Miller put the bat on the ball on nearly 84% of his swings, well north of the 76.6% league average. He went down on strikes just 19.7% of the time, part of a broadly contact-oriented lineup in Cleveland.
Without much power and a meager 6.8% walk rate, however, Miller was a below-average offensive player overall. The Illinois State product has a much stronger minor league track record, hitting .305/.368/.450 in just under 1100 plate appearances.
Miller has a fair bit of defensive flexibility. He’s played mostly second and first base in the majors, but he has some experience at shortstop and third base at lower levels. He doesn’t have a particularly strong arm, indicating he’s probably best suited on the right side of the infield. He’ll add a right-handed bat to potentially jostle for playing time with lefty-hitting rookie Brice Turang at the keystone and lefty slugger Rowdy Tellez at first base.
With two remaining minor league option years, Miller can bounce between Milwaukee and Triple-A Nashville as a depth player for the next couple seasons if he holds his spot on the 40-man roster. He has between one and two years of MLB service, so he’ll be controllable through at least the end of the 2027 campaign. Miller won’t reach arbitration until after the 2024 season at the earliest.
Adding him to the roster bumps Feliciano, whose time in the Milwaukee organization could now be coming to an end. A supplemental second-round pick out of Puerto Rico in 2016, the righty-hitting backstop was regarded as a potential catcher of the future for the Brew Crew. Feliciano had a monster showing at High-A in 2019 and was named by Baseball America one of the top ten prospects in the Brewers system the next two seasons. After the canceled minor league season in 2020, however, his production has tanked.
Feliciano has spent the bulk of the last two years in Nashville. He has just a .256/.304/.367 line in 425 plate appearances. The 24-year-old has shown solid contact skills, but he doesn’t draw many walks and hasn’t hit for much power at the higher levels. Prospect evaluators have also raised concerns about Feliciano’s defense, and Milwaukee hasn’t given him much of a look at the big league level. He’s gotten into just three MLB games over the past two seasons despite holding a 40-man roster spot since the end of the 2020 campaign.
The Brewers will have a week to deal Feliciano or place him on waivers. He still has one option year remaining, meaning another team that claims him could send him back to Triple-A next year to see if he can right the ship at the plate.