Pittsburgh Pirates Preparing For Life After Martin By Trading For Cervelli


Sep 20, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli (29) singles to center allowing a runner to score during the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

It seemed when free agency started the Pittsburgh Pirates had a chance of re-signing player and fan favorite catcher Russell Martin during this offseason. However, with what happened Wednesday the team obviously has decided to move on and look forward instead of waiting.

The Pirates dealt pitcher Justin Wilson to the New York Yankees for catcher Francisco Cervelli with clear hopes that he will turn into a poor man’s Martin in 2015. While it may seem somewhat crazy to think Cervelli could replace Martin, it is not completely absurd to believe he will be a viable replacement.

Cervelli played just 49 games last season hitting .301 with a .370 OBP. He did not play that many games and still had an offensive WAR of 3.2 and an overall WAR of 1.3 according to FanGraphs. Martin had a spectacular 2014 in his stint with the Bucs, but his overall WAR was only 2.4 wins more despite playing more than twice the amount of games. If Cervelli had just player 98 games, his overall WAR would have been 2.6. Regression to the mean would have had both players tapering off at some point and it somewhat safe to say they would have had similar advance metric numbers.

Obviously Cervelli is not the player Martin is, but if the Pirates do lose Martin, the combination of Cervelli, Tony Sanchez and/or Chris Stewart could help alleviate the pain fans will inevitably have if Martin does sign somewhere else. It is also hard to believe all three catchers will be on the roster and a trade using one of them could help land another player who could contribute even more to the team. In a way, picking up Cervelli, trading one of the other catchers and letting some other team pay Martin could help the Pirates build a more well-rounded team that is geared to not only win now, but for years to come.