Pittsburgh Pirates Left Searching for Answers at Catcher


The Pittsburgh Pirates original regular catcher, Roberto Perez, underwent season ending hamstring surgery. So what do the Pirates do now behind the plate?

A very unfortunate hamstring injury has taken backstop Roberto Pérez, out for the rest of the season. Perez came into the year as the Bucs’ starting catcher and was doing quite well. He displayed his trademark elite defense but also held his own with the bat. He was an above-average hitter on the season, having a 106 wRC+ and 105 OPS+. But now the Pittsburgh Pirates are left with a black hole behind the plate as Pérez is set to miss the rest of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery.

So what happens now? What do the Pittsburgh Pirates do at the catching position with their planned starter out just over a month into the 2022 campaign? Well, for now, it looks like they’ll run with patchwork and musical chairs behind the dish.

Once Roberto Pérez got injured, the Pittsburgh Pirates immediately promoted Michael Perez. Perez has hit two home runs in only eight games so far and has a respectable 94 wRC+. However, his defense is costing the Pirates. He hasn’t even caught 100 innings yet this year, but he already has -2 DRS and -0.7 framing runs.

The Pirates have now claimed Tyler Heineman off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays and designated Andrew Knapp for assignment. The 30-year-old Heineman barely has any playing time in the majors, with just 78 plate appearances spread across three different seasons. But in Heineman’s defense, he does have a solid .283/.351/.413 line throughout his career at Triple-A and has displayed solid defense when given the chance to catch.

But the duo of Perez and Heineman is very lackluster and is a significant step back from what Roberto Perez could provide. Are there any prospects the Pittsburgh Pirates could turn to in the meantime?

When Henry Davis got promoted to Double-A Altoona, the Pirates then sent Carter Bins to Triple-A Indianapolis. While it’s only been three games and 12 plate appearances, Bins already has a home run, two singles, and a walk. The downside is that he has struck out five times and isn’t part of the 40-man roster yet.

If Bins has another good week or two with the Indians, then the Pirates might seriously consider getting him some reps in the major leagues. He’s likely a better option, both offensively and defensively, than either Perez or Heineman. Not only do the Pirates get a semi-competent option behind the dish, but one who could provide some power to a lineup that ranks last in the National League in slugging percentage.

The Pirates could always scour the waiver wire or trade market for potential options. Veteran Robinson Chirinos will likely be up for grabs once the Orioles promote top-catching prospect Adley Rustchman. The Cleveland Guardians might consider moving Austin Hedges for a low price if they feel prospect Bo Naylor is ready for a look in the majors.

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Until Davis is in the majors, Bins is a perfectly fine prospect to keep the seat warm. The Pittsburgh Pirates should keep an eye out for some low-risk/low-cost trade partners, as there could be an opportunity there as well. While the combination of Perez and Heineman is far from pretty, the Pirates at least have another option that we may see within the next month.