Looking to add some organizational catching depth, the Braves have signed Wil Nieves to a minor-league contract.
Nieves elected to become a free agent last week after being dropped from the 40-man roster by the Padres, who replaced the 37-year-old with prospect Austin Hedges.
Nieves has never been more than a backup-caliber catcher and even that might be a stretch at this point. He’s a career .241 hitter with a .597 OPS in 427 games spent with seven different teams.
Atlanta has A.J. Pierzynski and Christian Bethancourt splitting time behind the plate, so Nieves would probably need an injury to reach the majors again.
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.