Next Wednesday, February 17, pitchers and catchers will report to Bradenton as Spring Training 2021 begins for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Thursday morning, the Pirates added another catcher to this bunch when they signed veteran Tony Wolters.
Wolters signed a minor league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates. This includes an invite to MLB camp. Jacob Stallings is still set to be the primary catcher for the Pirates this season. Michael Perez, who the Pirates claimed off waivers earlier in the offseason, has two minor league options remaining. Due to this, it appears likely that Wolters could make the Opening Day roster as the primary back up to Stallings.
Last season Wolters played in 42 games for the Colorado Rockies. In these 42 games he hit for a .230/.280/.270 slash line to go with a wRC+ of 37. His 283.2 innings caught ranked 9th among all National League catchers.
Wolters has played in 391 games, accumulating 1232 plate appearances in five seasons with the Rockies. In these 1232 PAs he has hit for a .238/.323/.319 slash line to go with a wRC+ of 57. His career walk rate is a stromg 9.9%, while his 19.4% strikeout rate is slightly better than league average.
Throughout his MLB career Wolters’s main calling card has been his defense. He owns a lifetime 45.3 dWAR, +24 Defensive Runs Saved, +11.3 FramingRuns, and a 31.3% caught stealing rate in 2764.2 career innings behind the dish. Since making his MLB debut, Wolters ranks 7th in the NL in DRS, 3rd in Stolen Base Runs Saved (10), 7th in dWAR, and 11th in FramingRuns. Adding Wolters to the mix continues to the added emphasis that Ben Cherington and his staff have put on catcher defense since joining the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The 28-year-old Wotlers is a left-handed hitter and was originally a 3rd round pick by the Cleveland Indians in the 2010 MLB Draft. He has always been known for being a great handler of a pitching staff and that should be a great asset for a young Pirate pitching staff to have. When paired with Stallings, adding Wolters could give the Pirates one of the best defensive catching duos in the NL this season.