The Brewers announced that they have selected the contract of right-hander Colin Rea. Fellow righty Janson Junk was optioned to Triple-A Nashville to open a spot on the active roster. To get Rea onto the 40-man, catcher Payton Henry was designated for assignment.
Rea, 32, has 36 games of scattered big league action with the Padres, Marlins, Cubs and Brewers. Most of that came back in 2015 and 2016, as he’s only tossed 20 innings in the bigs since then. He has a career ERA of 4.90 in 154 1/3 innings overall.
He spent last year pitching for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan, posting a 3.96 ERA over exactly 100 innings. He returned to North America this winter by signing a minor league deal with the Brewers. He’s already made a couple of starts in Triple-A, throwing seven innings without allowing an earned run.
The Brewers needed to address their rotation when Brandon Woodruff was placed on the injured list earlier this week with shoulder inflammation. They also intended to give their regular starters a breather by pushing them back a day, per Curt Hogg of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, meaning they needed a couple of fresh arms. Junk was recalled to make a spot start yesterday but has now been quickly optioned to make room for Rea.
Henry, 26 in June, has spent most of his career in the Brewers’ organization, having been drafted by them in 2016. He was dealt to the Marlins in July of 2021 but then was traded back to Milwaukee in November of last year. He has 20 games of major league experience, all of it with the Marlins in between those two trades. He hit .186/.314/.209 in 51 plate appearances, which is a tiny sample but it tracks with his reputation as a glove-first catching prospect. He’s hit .200/.294/.267 in five Triple-A games so far this year.
The Brewers will now have one week to trade Henry or pass him through waivers. Catching depth tends to be in demand throughout the season given the high number of injuries at the position. Since Henry has options remaining, he doesn’t even need to be given an active roster spot. The Brewers now have just two catchers on their 40-man roster in William Contreras and Victor Caratini. They have some non-roster depth with players like Alex Jackson and Brian Navarreto, though Henry would join them if he clears waivers. He doesn’t have a previous career outright or three-plus years of service time, meaning he won’t have the right to reject an outright assignment.