Pittsburgh Pirates: Francisco Cervelli Done For The Year


News: The Pittsburgh Pirates announced that catcher Francisco Cervelli will not play again in the 2017 season due to a quadriceps injury.

The Pittsburgh Pirates extended catcher Francisco Cervelli to a three-year contract extension in May of 2016.  So far the move has not worked out for them.  First and foremost, he has taken a step back in production since his impressive 2015 campaign, especially offensively.  However, the biggest issue with Cervelli has been his inability to stay on the field.

The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Cervelli in the 2014-2015 offseason from the New York Yankees.  At the time the Bucs traded away hard-throwing, but erratic, left handed reliever Justin Wilson.  Cervelli made an immediate impact in 2015, and he played a key role in their 98 win season.  Many wondered how the Bucs would replace Russel Martin’s production, and Cervelli filled the role more than adequately.  He played in 130 games and hit a strong .295 with an even more impressive .370 on-base percentage. He also threw out about 29 percent of attempted base stealers, which is a solid number to get from a catcher.  Meanwhile, his calling card is his ability to frame pitchers, he only ranked behind Buster Posey in the 2015 season.

Contract Extension

He followed his 2015 season up by entering his final year of team control in 2016.  As mentioned earlier, he inked a three-year extension worth $31 million over the course of the deal.  If he put up numbers even close to his 2015 season, it would be considered a bargain.  Unfortunately, 2016 did not work out the way the Bucs had hoped.

The team regressed big time in terms of wins going from 98 to 78 wins.  Cervelli only played in 101 games due to a thumb injury.  His batting average was decent at .264, and still showed the ability to get on base posting a .377 OBP. However, he saw his slugging drop down to .322 and his wRC+ fall below league average to 98.  Also, he saw his caught stealing percentage drop down to 23 percent for the season.  Still, he was ranked as one of the top pitch framers for 2016.  Optimism remained entering the 2017 season, and if his thumb was healthy, his power numbers would increase back to his 2015 numbers.


It did not work out for Cervelli in 2017.  He has played in even fewer games this year than last.   The Pittsburgh Pirates have announced that he will not play the rest of the season, giving him a total of 81 games played, or half the season.  His slash line for the year is .249/.342/.370.  Yes, his slugging increased, but what he is known for, getting on base, regressed by 25 points.  Defensively, he was about the same, posting a 25 percent throw out rate, though his framing metrics regressed to being one of the worst in the game.

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What is really comes down to is that he was off the field way more than the Pittsburgh Pirates can afford a $10 million a year player to be.  Cervelli has only played in three games since August 13th, and with only about two weeks left for the 2017 Bucs, it made sense to shut him down for good.  Hopefully, whatever is nagging him can be taken care of this offseason.  If the Pittsburgh Pirates want their young pitching staff to have success in 2018, they will need a strong pitch framer and game calling catcher behind the plate.  If anything, Cervelli will always provide that if he can get back behind the plate consistently in 2018.