A.J. Preller and the Padres made a depth trade on Friday, acquiring 29-year-old catcher Brett Nicholas from the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
A 6th-round draft pick of the Rangers back in 2010, Nicholas has played in parts of two seasons at the Major League level, tallying 110 plate appearances where he slashed .252/.300/.456 over 37 games played between 2016 and 2017.
Batting from the left-handed side of the batter’s box, Nicholas has hit 80 career home runs in the minor leagues scattered across 8 seasons. He has shown good patience in the minors as well, walking at about an eight percent clip while striking out in 20 percent of his at-bats. Brett Nicholas also has some experience at first base, totaling 3,204 innings at the position.
Nicholas had cleared waivers upon his designation for assignment and so he does not need to occupy a spot on the Padres’ active 25-man roster or the team’s 40-man roster either.
He will report to Triple-A affiliate El Paso where it is assumed he will split catching duties with Raffy Lopez and get an occasional start at first base, where the team currently employs only veteran Allen Craig.
It’s hard to expect anything notable from Nicholas at this point in his career, but he has shown some good power while also walking enough to warrant an extended look at the minor league level. Preller was a prominent member of the Rangers’ front office when Nicholas was drafted almost eight years ago, so perhaps he sees something in the minor-league veteran that others do not. Either way, it’s hard to find negatives in a trade of this nature, as teams rarely give up anything of note.
Hopefully, Nicholas can find his way back to the big leagues at some point, as he seemed to be well-liked in the Rangers’ locker room, as outlined in Levi Weaver’s piece for the Athletic (subscription required) back in early March. For now, he will look to work his way into the Padres’ current plans as the Chihuahuas continue their opening series in Las Vegas.
*All stats courtesy of Fangraphs