Pittsburgh Pirates: Should Jacob Stallings Have An Outrageous Price Tag?


The Pittsburgh Pirates are, at the very least, listening to offers on Jacob Stallings. But should they have an outrageous price tag on the backstop?

There have been trade rumors surrounding some of the Pittsburgh Pirates players. There are the obvious Bryan Reynolds rumors, but it seems that the Bucs have put an untouchable price tag on Reynolds. Back at the trade deadline, they demanded the Miami Marlins’ top 30 prospects, all of which are top 40 prospects. Recently, they asked about the availability of both Noelvi Marte and Julio Rodriguez from the Seattle Mariners, two consensus top 10 prospects in baseball. But now it seems the Pirates are open to talking about backstop Jacob Stallings. But should the Pirates put an outrageous price tag on him, similar to how they have done to Reynolds?

Last year, Stallings posted a .246/.335/.369 with a .312 wOBA, and 95 wRC+. He posted a career-high .132 isolated slugging percentage while walking at an 11.5% pace. His overall production was pretty good for a catcher. The average backstop hit .228/.304/.391 with a .302 wOBA, and 89 wRC+. So while he was decent when it came to hitting, he was 10x better when it came to defending.

Stallings won the Gold Glove over popular names such as St. Louis Cardinals legend Yadier Molina and All-Star Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto. Stallings wasn’t just the best defender at his position, but arguably the best defender in the game. Stallings’ +21 DRS was the best in the sport, beating out Astros’ shortstop Carlos Correa by one defensive run. He also had the third-highest framing runs, tied with Rangers’ Jose Trevino and Brewers’ Omar Narvaez.

Understandably, Stallings would make an attractive trade piece. A solid hitting backstop with one of the best gloves in the game, as well as someone who’s controlled through 2024 should command a large return in and of itself. Plus with 2022 being his age-32 season, he’s not getting any younger. But there’s one major reason the Pittsburgh Pirates shouldn’t trade Stallings. The Pirates need the leadership that Stallings brings and the effect he has on young pitchers.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a myriad of young pitchers coming up next season. Roansy Contreras, Miguel Yajure, and Carmen Mlodzinski are the big names you might see get an extended look in the majors sometime in 2022, but you also have some other names like Cody Bolton, Austin Roberts, Trey McGough, and Ricky DeVito as some other young guys you might see later in the year.

Plus the Pirates have a ton of young arms with very little experience on the major league roster. Mitch Keller, Wil Crowe, Bryse Wilson, Dillon Peters, JT Brubaker, David Bednar, Nick Mears, Max Kranick, just about everybody but Chad Kuhl, Steven Brault, Chris Stratton, and Jose Quintana.

Having a catcher like Stallings, who not only has shown he’s a team leader from everything the fans have seen, as well as being outstanding at calling a game and defending can do a lot for a young pitching staff. But is that worth what Stallings is worth in trade value?

Realistically, Stallings is worth a top 100 prospect, along with other add-ons. Catchers of Stallings’ quality aren’t traded all that often. The last catcher who averaged 3+ fWAR-per-500 plate appearances in the three seasons prior before being dealt was J.T. Realmuto. Realmuto got the Miami Marlins back flamethrowing right-hander Sixto Sanchez, who is currently a consensus top 50 prospect, Jorge Alfaro, a backstop who formerly was a consensus top 100 prospect and who had just graduated prospect status the year prior, as well as another minor league pitcher. Realmuto averaged about one more win on average than Stallings, but also came with one fewer year of control. Realmuto was also traded when he was going into his age-28 season while Stallings would be traded going into his age-32 season.

So should the Pirates put an extra high price tag on him, so much so that most teams aren’t going to meet the demand? Yes, they should. The long-term benefits that Stallings may prove to be worth more than most prospects. The Pirates would have to get back at least one consensus top 50 prospect, another consensus top 100 prospect, as well as at least one top organizational prospect. The starting point should be J.T. Realmuto, at the very least in any trade talks. Personally, I would just put him in untouchable territory unless Wander Franco or Adley Rutschman are offered. But right now, a team might be willing to meet a crazy demand. With the impending lockout and the catcher market bare-thin outside of platoon and backup options, a guy like Stallings would get a lot of attention.

The Pirates should be putting an outrageously high price tag on Jacob Stallings. They have no reason not to and might have more incentive to keep him around rather than trade him. Obviously, something like how well he helps young pitchers is an x-factor that so you never truly know how much more helpful he is over the alternative, but at the very least, we know he can get more strike calls than most backstops. If the demand is there, they should wait until the next off-season when Henry Davis and Endy Rodriguez are a year closer to the major leagues.