The San Diego Padres have signed veteran catcher Wil Nieves to a minor league deal, per MLB.com's Corey Brock. The 37-year-old Nieves will also receive an invite to big league Spring Training, and could very well compete for a backup job, as Brock notes.
Nieves, an 11-year major league veteran, was originally drafted by the Padres in the 47th round of the 1997 draft, and later reached the majors with the club before spending the subsequent decade with a variety of teams including the Yankees, Nationals, Brewers, Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Phillies. For his career, Nieves has been a fairly run-of-the-mill backup backstop, hitting .243/.281/.317 for a 61 OPS+ and -1.8 WAR in over 1,200 plate appearances. In 2014, he backed up Carlos Ruiz with the Phillies, hitting for a 71 OPS+ and providing 0.6 WAR.
The Padres have had an overwhelmingly busy offseason, but nothing can compare to their complete overhaul behind the plate. San Diego began the offseason with the duo of Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera, however, both have since been traded. Grandal was sent off to the Dodgers in a multi-player deal for Matt Kemp that also included catcher Tim Federowicz heading to San Diego. In exchange for Rivera, who was sent to the Rays as part of the WIl Myers deal, the Padres received Ryan Hanigan among others, however, he was soon dealt to the Red Sox for Will Middlebrooks. In one final transaction, the Padres traded a package of pitchers to land Derek Norris from the Athletics.
As it stands, Norris should head into the season as the unquestioned starter, with Federowicz as his backup, though Nieves could feasibly challenge for that role. The Padres will also have highly-regarded prospect Austin Hedges languishing in the upper minors, however, he still needs to work on improving his hitting before he can become San Diego's long-term solution at the position.
Nieves is the second journeyman catcher to agree to a minor league deal with an NL West club today, as Gerald Laird was signed by the Diamondbacks.