Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin–along with skipper Ken Macha–opted not to bring back Mike Rivera by not offering him arbitration on Saturday, the deadline for doing so. Rivera now becomes a free agent.
At first, I admit I was puzzled as to why you wouldn’t want to bring back at least one of the catchers that worked with your pitching staff the past season. After all, ’09 starting catcher Jason Kendall was not offered arbitration earlier this year and eventually signed with the Royals.
But then I started compiling some reasons why the Brewers decided not to bring back Rivera:
1. New pitching coach Rick Peterson wants a completely clean slate in establishing batteries–in other words, no pre-conceived opinions by his catchers of what each pitcher throws and does not throw well.
2. They want to leave the back-up spot easily accessible to Jonathan Lucroy. Lucroy can now easily start the year playing everyday in AAA Nashville, and then be called up in June to be the back-up to Gregg Zaun. Lucroy will no longer be replacing the “regular” back-up catcher from the past 3 seasons…just George Kottaras, who will only have been on the roster for two months. This will mean Gregg Zaun will get the bulk of the starts during the first half of the season and get spelled by Lucroy as the season grinds on.
3. Rivera would have cost the Brewers at least $300,000 more than Kottaras.
4. Rivera only hit .228 last year…and will be 34 in September.
Each of these by themselves are pretty good reasons to let Mike Rivera go…combined, I can see why they needed to make the move.