Could a recent addition to the front office help the Pittsburgh Pirates in their pursuit of a free agent catcher?
Since being hired as the new general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates in November, Ben Cherington has been busy making changes to the franchise. These changes started when he hired Derek Shelton as the team’s new manager just before Thanksgiving. By all accounts, the Shelton hire is a strong one.
Shortly thereafter, Cherington hired Steven Sanders to be his assistant GM. Saunders is viewed as a rising star in baseball front office circles. Once again, another strong hire.
This past Friday, Cherington added Oz Ocampo to his scouting department. Ocampo comes to the Pirates from the Houston Astros, who are one of the most successful and best run franchises in baseball.
While Cherington has been busy revamping the front office and Pirate braintrust, he has not done much yet to impact the MLB roster. His lone MLB free agent signing to this point has been catcher Luke Maile. However, Maile still has minor league options remaining and is not a slam dunk to start the season on the active roster. However, Cherington’s latest addition to the front office could play a role in changing this.
Free agent catcher Robinson Chirinos is a player the Pirates have been connected to this season. According to reports, he is close to signing with a new team. Could it be the Pirates? Well, with Ocampo now on board the odds of that could have increased.
Like Ocampo, Chirinos was previously with Astros. In Houston, the two had a strong relationship as Ocampo, in addition to other roles, served as the team’s Spanish interpreter for player interviews. He also helped the Astros acquire many of the Spanish speaking players he worked with, including Chirinos.
Last season Chirinos posted a 2.3 fWAR and a .238/.347/.443 slash line in 114 games for the Astros. No disrespect to Maile or Jacob Stallings, but Chirinos would be the Pirates’ best catching option in 2020.
Could the addition of Ocampo to the Pirate front office impact their pursuit of Chirinos? We will have to wait and see. But with the Pirates having already been connected to the veteran catcher, it would not be surprise if it did.