Pittsburgh Pirates: Notable MiLB Free Agent Signing Performances

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Pittsburgh Pirates Catcher, Tony Wolters
Feb 24, 2021; Bradenton, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Tony Wolters (93) has some fun while taking batting practice during spring training at Pirate City. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports /

Catcher Tony Wolters

The Pittsburgh Pirates signed Tony Wolters as a potential back up to Jacob Stallings. Wolters isn’t being brought in because of his bat. Throughout his career 1232 trips to the plate, Wolters has a slashline of just .238/.323/.319 with a .282 wOBA and 57 wRC+. He does draw walks at a solid rate of 9.9% and only strikes out 19.4% of the time, but Wolters’ value is in his defense.

In 2764.2 innings behind the dish, Wolters has +24 DRS, 11.3 framing runs saved and has caught 31% of runners trying to take an extra base on the backstop. He, along with Stallings, would be one of the best defensive duos behind the dish in baseball.

So far, he’s hit as you’d expect for Tony Wolters. He has just two hits in 17 plate appearances with one walk and two strikeouts. However, he does have some competition for the second catcher role. The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Michael Perez from the Tampa Bay Rays earlier in the offseason, but Wolters may have the upper hand for the second catcher spot.

Perez also hasn’t hit well in Spring Training having just one hit in 14 plate appearances. But while Perez has a higher offensive ceiling than Wolters, Wolters is by far the better defender. Perez has +4 DRS, but is a negative framer and has caught 27% of runners trying to steal on him.

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Both Wolters and Perez have minor league options remaining. There is a chance the Pittsburgh Pirates decide to go with three catchers to start the season. However, if it comes down to either Perez or Wolters, Wolters’ defense may win the roster spot.