What a busy 24 hours it has been in Major League Baseball. With free agent signings and trades, this was a busier day than last year's trade deadline. Like last year's trade deadline, it appeared that the Phillies were destined to do nothing. But alas, they have.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Phillies have signed catcher Wil Nieves:
Wil Nieves is headed to the phillies. solid backup catcher type.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 4, 2013
Phillies fans may know Nieves best from his three seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Arizona Diamondbacks blog AZ Snake Pit reviewed Nieves' play just a month ago:
Nieves was likely busier than expected, appearing in 71 games this season for the D-backs, only one off his career high. His busiest month was August, when he started 18 times, due to Montero's back issues requiring a stint on the disabled list, and performed well in the role: overall this season, Nieves hit .309 as a starter, including his only home-run of the year, which came off Troy Patton on August 12. Overall, Wil his .297, but like Willie Bloomquist, it was a fairly empty average, with little in the way of walks or power to boost his overall offense. Nieves' OPS for the season ended at only .690.
What was perhaps surprising is the defensive numbers for Wil weren't all that good either. 13 out of 18 stolen-base attempts against Nieves were successful, a 72% rate (admittedly, still likely better than Barajas would have managed), and in 380.2 innings of work, Nieves allowed a remarkable 33 wild pitches. Every other NL catcher with that many WPs, had at least 900 innings behind the dish; it was also the most wild pitches by any major-league catcher with less than 500 innings played there, since Sandy Martinez with the 1995 Blue Jays (he allowed 38 during his 472.2 innings).
That does not sound like a ringing endorsement for Nieves. However, the Phillies really needed a veteran backup to provide depth for the catching position. Should Carlos Ruiz go down with an injury, only Erik Kratz and Cameron Rupp appear to be options, and no Major League team should have both of them on a roster at the same time.
Nieves has played with the San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies, and Arizona Diamondbacks in a career that spans back to 2002. In 385 career games, Nieves has hit .242 with a .597 OPS.
Nieves is... (don't cringe) 36 years old.