Nieves earns retention bonus, may still make roster

Veteran in the running for Padres' backup catcher spot

Nieves earns retention bonus, may still make roster

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Veteran catcher Wil Nieves hasn't made the Padres roster, but he earned a $100,000 retention bonus Tuesday and the team bought some time to decide if it wants to keep him on the roster.

The Padres had until Tuesday to either give Nieves a retention bonus, release him or add him to the 25-man roster.

Nieves, as it stands today, has a good chance to win the backup catching job to Derek Norris, although the team is keeping its options open in terms of looking for an upgrade.

According to Article 20b of MLB's Collective Bargaining Agreement, players with six or more years of Major League service time, who finished the 2014 season on a big league roster, on the 60-day disabled list, and who signed Minor League deals are entitled to a retention bonus if a team opts to send them to the Minor Leagues.

Nieves is still very much in the running for the backup job. But this buys the Padres additional time to weigh their options before setting their 25-man roster Sunday in advance of Opening Day on Monday against the Dodgers.

Nieves became the favorite to win the backup job when Tim Federowicz injured his right knee earlier this month, which led to surgery to repair his meniscus. Federowicz is expected to miss three to six months.

Nieves has played parts of 11 seasons for seven teams, and finished last season with the Phillies.

The only other viable internal option is Rocky Gale, who probably rates as a better defensive catcher, but doesn't have the service that Nieves does and hasn't handled the pitching staff nearly as much during Spring Training.

Going into Tuesday's game against the Royals, Nieves has caught 65 innings and Gale has caught 29 innings.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.