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Brewers Designate Eric Haase For Assignment

Brewers Designate Eric Haase For Assignment

Despite a blistering spring training performance, catcher Eric Haase has been designated for assignment by the Brewers. Milwaukee will carry William Contreras and Gary Sanchez as its two catchers, and Haase is out of minor league options, meaning he can’t be sent to the minors without first clearing waivers.

Haase, 31, decimated Cactus League pitching this spring, slashing .395/.465/.868 with five homers, three doubles and nearly as many walks (five) as strikeouts (six) in 43 plate appearances. He’d signed with the Brewers on a one-year, split major league deal back in December and looked for much of the offseason to be in line to replace Victor Caratini (who signed a two-year deal in Houston) as the backup to Contreras. The Brewers’ late-offseason signing of Sanchez altered that outlook. Haase’s huge performance in camp surely made the choice more difficult for the Brewers, but he’s nonetheless the odd man out.

The Brewers could’ve carried three catchers, as Haase has outfield experience and both Contreras and Sanchez have enough bat to serve as the designated hitter at times. Haase, however, would’ve been another right-handed bat on a heavily right-handed team, and the Brewers are already dedicating one bench spot to another out-of-options veteran in first baseman/outfielder Jake Bauers (notably, a left-handed hitter). They’ll go with Bauers, infielder Andruw Monasterio, switch-hitting outfielder Blake Perkins and rookie infielder/outfielder Oliver Dunn to round out Pat Murphy’s bench.

Haase has spent his entire career prior to this spring training with Detroit and Cleveland. His 2023 season was a down year that saw him slash just .201/.247/.281, prompting the Tigers to make a change of their own behind the plate. But from 2021-22, Haase split time between catcher and left field for the Tigers and turned in a combined .242/.295/.451 line with 36 big flies in 732 plate appearances.

Last year’s downturn at the plate was in part due to a reduction in average on balls in play (.297 from 2021-22 but just .268 in 2023), however it also can’t simply be chalked up to poor fortune. Haase made hard contact at a far lower rate (45.1% in 2021-22, just 35.9% in 2023) and put the ball on the ground more often than in any full big league season prior. He also hit infield flies at the highest rate of his career and saw a career-low 5.6% of his fly-balls become home runs after enjoying an 18.8% mark in that regard in the two preceding…

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