Catcher John Ryan Murphy
An under-the-radar minor league signing the Pirates made recently was veteran catcher John Ryan Murphy. To be perfectly honest, it is a bit of a surprise that Murphy was unable to land a MLB contract with a team due to how valuable catching is at the MLB level.
Right now the Pirates have just two catchers on their 40-man roster. They are Jacob Stallings and Luke Maile. Last year, Stallings started to emerge as a legitimate MLB catcher, even if it is just as a backup. As for Maile, the defensive wizard has always struggled offensively and signed a two-way contract which means he could start the season at the minor league level.
Murphy has played in 259 MLB games with four teams since 2013. He has slashed just .219/.265/.357 with a wRC+ of 65 in these 259 games. However, he has always been a plus defender behind the plate.
As Spring Training carries on it is possible the Pirates could decide to keep Murphy around. In this scenario, Maile would start the year with Triple-A Indianapolis while Stallings gets the bulk of the starts at the MLB level.
It is also a possibility that Murphy has an out in his contract that would allow him to become a free agent if he does not make the MLB roster out of Spring Training, or by a certain date. If this is the case, in order to have better catching depth, taking him north to start the season would make sense.