The Brewers have had the same catching duo for the past 5 years, with Jonathan Lucroy starting on every Opening Day since 2012 and Martin Maldonado serving as his backup. Lucroy matched B.J. Surhoff for most Opening Day starts at catcher for the Brewers with 5.
That is going to change in 2017 since both Lucroy and Maldonado have both been traded, Lucroy going to the Rangers at the deadline and Maldonado going to the Angels in the offseason.
The top candidates to take over behind the plate have all come from some of the rebuilding trades over the last year and a half. Jett Bandy came over from the Angels in the deal for Maldonado and it looks like he has the inside track for the Opening Day start.
Bandy started 2016 at AAA Salt Lake before joining the Angels near the end of May. He eventually started to take over behind the plate when starter Carlos Perez struggled. Bandy started 32 of the last 50 games for the Angels, and though he struggled at the plate, still outperformed Perez down the stretch.
Manny Pina was part of the the deal that sent Francisco Rodriguez to the Tigers and he made 17 starts for the Brewers last season after Lucroy was dealt. Pina had big shoes to fill, but did an adequate job in his first significant stint in the Big Leagues.
Finally, Andrew Susac was acquired when the Brewers traded Will Smith to the Giants. Susac is the veteran of the trio, playing 87 games for the Giants in 2014 and 2015 before getting into 9 games for the Brewers last year.
There is a free agent catcher out there that could be of interest to the Brewers. Former Oriole Matt Wieters is still looking for a job. The 4-time All-Star is an established hitter that has hit 20+ home runs in the past. However, his agent is Scott Boras, which means he won’t come cheap. My money is on the Brewers standing pat with the trio they have.
The Brewers have a big hole to fill behind the plate this season. While Bandy, Pina, and Susac will not provide the production that Lucroy did, they should be able to hold there own.