Pittsburgh Pirates: Looking at Catching Depth without Luke Maile

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates brought in a catcher last offseason who ended up not playing in a single game.  He now is heading to a division rival.

One of Ben Cherington’s first moves as the Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager was to bring in catcher Luke Maile.  Last offseason, the Toronto Blue Jays released Maile and Cherington, who was looking for catching depth, picked him up on a minor league contract.  The move made sense, being Cherington was coming from Toronto as was Maile.

Overall there was not a high expectation for Maile.  It was assumed he would be the primary backup behind Jacob Stallings.  Also, it was known that he would not bring much value with the bat, but was considered a strong defender with good framing numbers.  Just what teams look for in a backup catcher.

Unfortunately, things never came to fruition with Maile and the Pittsburgh Pirates. He only played in  six Spring Training games before things were shut down.  Then, before the 2020 season could start, Maile found himself injured.  During an exhibition game, Maile fractured his thumb which required season ending surgery.

The Pittsburgh Pirates out-righted Maile back in October, once again making him a free agent.  Now, according to Ken Rosenthal, Maile will be heading to a new team.  Of course, it is a team in the National League Central.  Rosenthal reports that Maile is signing a one year, Major League deal with the Milwaukee Brewers.  Rosenthal tweeted:

Once again, this should not be a move that will change the dynamic of the Brewers all that much.  Still, it is hard as a Pittsburgh Pirates fans to not imagine the worst scenario and have to endure Luke Maile becoming another player deemed to be a ‘Pirate Killer’, as so many players who fit Maile’s profile have before.

It is interesting that the Bucs let Maile go all together.  Obviously Jacob Stallings has secured the job as the team’s starting catcher.  The team also claimed catcher Michael Perez off of waivers.  Perez, a former top 30 prospect for the Rays, has the clear path to be the Bucs primary option behind Jacob Stallings.

Last year, the Bucs also relied on some veteran minor league signings.  The team primary used John Ryan Murphy as the backup.  Murphy has spent a lot of time in the big leagues and is known more as a third catching option.  With the injury to Maile, it forced the team to move Murphy up the depth chart.  The team also had Andrew Susac, who they brought back already this offseason.

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So right now, the Pittsburgh Pirates depth at catcher for the 2021 season will be made up of Jacob Stallings, Michael Perez, and Andrew Susac.  The team will surely acquire another catcher or two this offseason, whether it be a minor league veteran signing, or a potential trade for a prospect.  The Bucs do not have as much depth behind the plate as they did entering the 2020 season.  However, Perez should represent a significant upgrade over Maile and Murphy.