Pirates Three Catchers Could Be Enough


Sep 18, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Chris Stewart (19) hits an RBI single against the Boston Red Sox during the fourth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

One of the Pittsburgh Pirates greatest assets during the 2014 MLB season was having catcher Russell Martin to rely on as good defender and a solid bat. Martin left the Pirates after signing a lucrative deal with the Toronto Blue Jays earlier this offseason.

The Pirates countered the loss of Martin by agreeing to a deal with the Yankees that sent catcher Francisco Cervelli to the Steel City. While the Pirates now have three catchers with Cervelli, Chris Stewart and Tony Sanchez on the current depth chart, none of them is a true starting backstop. However, this could turn out to be more of a positive than a negative as the season progresses. The Pirates never could have guessed that Martin would put up the number he did in the 2014 season. While this ultimately made Martin too pricy for the Pirates, it could help them in the long-term. Martin is unlikely to be that productive ever again and the trio of catchers the Pirates do have could actually put up numbers close to what Martin may have after he regresses to the mean. Cervelli is a good defensive catcher as his 2.7 defensive WAR clearly illustrates. He is capable on offense and will see a majority of the starts. His FanGraphs projections have him playing 83 games, driving in 30 runs and posting a plus-5 defensive WAR. FanGraphs projects Stewart to play 53 games, drive in 10 runs and post a 4.3 dWAR. Finally, Sanchez is projected to play in 15 games with six RBI and an above replacement level dWAR. Martin’s value to the Blue Jays will certainly surpass the combined numbers of these players, but assuming the Pirates get more out of outfielder Gregory Polanco on offense, that could be more than enough to make up for all of that.

So, while the trio of catchers are not the perfect situation for the Pirates right now, they are much cheaper than Martin, more than capable of playing similar defense and could help enough on offense to give the Bucs more of boost they anyone may predict.