Today, the Pittsburgh Pirates claimed catcher Eric Fryer off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals.
Earlier this week I said that the Pirates should claim catcher Eric Fryer off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals. Well, on Sunday afternoon the Pirates did just that.
This will be Eric Fryer’s second stint with the Pirates, as he served as a catcher/utility player for the Pirates in 2011 and 2012. Fryer signed a Minor League contract with the St. Louis Cardinals prior to the 2016 season, and saw time with the Cardinals due to a Brayan Pena injury. However, when Pena returned from the disabled list earlier this week the Red Birds designated Fryer for assignment.
Prior to being designated for assignment Eric Fryer was having the best season of his Major League career. In 41 plate appearances this season Fryer owns a .368/.415/.421/.836 slash line, to go along with a .368 wOBA and a wRC+ of 132. All of these numbers are career bests for Fryer.
Eric Fryer has also been a plus defender this season. In 24 games behind the plate for the Cardinals Fryer had a two defensive runs saved, he did not commit an error, and he threw out two of four attempted base stealers. All of this resulted in Eric Fryer posting a 1.7 dWAR during his stint with St. Louis.
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Now that Eric Fryer is on board the question becomes what will the Pirates do next? The first corresponding move came on Sunday afternoon when the Bucs designated right-handed reliever Rob Scahill for assignment to make room for Eric Fryer on the 40-man roster. Next, the Pirates will have to make a move to make room for Fryer on the 25-man roster.
On Monday, I expect catcher Chris Stewart to be placed on the disabled list to make room on the 25-man roster for Eric Fryer. Stewart has been battle multiple injuries in recent weeks, but with Francisco Cervelli and Elias Diaz already on the disabled list the Pirates have been unable to DL Stewart. I expect this to change on Monday.
Once Stewart is placed on the disabled list, I look for Eric Fryer to become the Pirates primary catcher. The other option will be Erik Kratz, and, to be quite honest, Erik Kratz flat-out sucks. In 72 plate appearances this season Erik Kratz, somehow, has a slash line of .085/.097/.141/.238 to go along with a .104 wOBA and a wRC+ of -47 (!!!).
In every way possible Eric Fryer is a better catching option than Erik Kratz, and this will only benefit the Pirates. Francisco Cervelli will miss, at least, another three weeks recovering from a broken hamate bone and Chris Stewart dealing with more injuries than stars in the sky, the Pirates need better catching options than Erik Kratz and Jacob Stallings. Insert, Eric Fryer.
Eric Fryer is out of options, therefor he can not be sent to the Minor Leagues. So, his tenure as a Pirate might be short-lived. Once both Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart are healthy I expect Fryer will be designated for assignment. And that is a shame because he would be great organizational catching depth to have. But, regardless, he should help the Pirates over the course of the next month or so.
I expect Eric Fryer to be in the Pirates’ starting lineup against his ex-team the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday afternoon. I also expect Eric Fryer to be a huge upgrade at the catcher position for the Pirates over Erik Kratz. Welcome back to Pittsburgh, Eric!