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Kansas City Royals Sign C Austin Nola to Major League Deal

 Matt Tallarini  |    Feb 23rd, 2024 1:08pm EST

Austin Nola heads off the field in the game against the Chicago Cubs at PETCO Park on June 4, 2023 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

The Kansas City Royals announced on Friday that they have signed catcher Austin Nola to a Major League contract and placed left-handed pitcher Kris Bubic on the 60-day injured list to recover from Tommy John surgery. 


Kansas City has not disclosed the terms of the deal with Nola, according to Anne Rogers of MLB.com. 

Nola, 34, was born in Baton Rouge, La., and has played five seasons in Major League Baseball with the Seattle Mariners from 2019-20 and the San Diego Padres from 2020-23. 

He was released by the Milwaukee Brewers on Feb. 22 prior to signing with Kansas City. Nola elected free agency on Nov. 17, 2023, before signing with the Brewers to a minor league contract on January 5. 

Last season, Nola competed for playing time behind the plate with Gary Sanchez and Brett Sullivan in San Diego. 

During the 2023 season, Nola played in 52 games with the Padres and batted .146 with 19 hits, three doubles, one home run, eight RBI, 18 walks, 31 strikeouts, and a .452 OPS. 

According to Nick Deeds of MLBTradeRumors.com on January 5, Nola was diagnosed last September with oculomotor dysfunction, “an issue that impacts the brain’s ability to coordinate eye movement and comes with symptoms such as fogginess and headaches.”

Nola also played in Triple-A El Paso during 2023 and batted .185 in eight games with five hits, one double, two RBI, three walks, and eight strikeouts. 

Nola caught 387 innings in 2023, starting in 45 games and getting 381 chances, 359 putouts, 21 assists, one error, turning four double-plays and posting a .997 fielding percentage. He threw out eight runners stealing and had 39 stolen bases against him. 

In 2022, Nola played in 110 games with the Padres and batted .251 over 397 plate appearances with 87 hits, 15 doubles, four home runs, 40 RBI, 34 walks, 60 strikeouts, and a .649 OPS. 

In five seasons in MLB, Nola has played in 345 games with a lifetime average of .249 in 1,196 plate appearances, with 261 hits, 51 doubles, two triples, 24 home runs, 136 RBI, 107 walks, 207 strikeouts, and a .696 OPS.

Nola will compete with Freddy Fermin and MJ Melendez to be the back-up catcher to Salvador Perez coming out of spring training. 

The Kansas City Royals will open up the 2024 regular season at home on March 28 against the Minnesota Twins at 4:10 p.m. EDT.