Find another catcher
Look, I’m not saying go out there and make a trade for a big, expensive catcher. But let’s take a look at what the Pirates have right now. It’s the dynamic duo of Michael Perez and Tyler Heineman. Perez had a 38 wRC+ last season and hasn’t done much better this year. Heineman spent the previous four years as an up-and-down third-string catcher.
Roberto Perez undergoing season-ending hamstring surgery was a massive blow to the Pirates. Not only was he putting on a defensive clinic behind the dish, but he was also hitting pretty well. At the time of his injury, he ranked 6th among catchers in wRC+ and wOBA in at least 60 plate appearances. Finding that kind of production with the bat is extremely hard, especially considering the average catcher is hitting .217/.289/.348 this year.
The Pirates aren’t going to replace Perez. They’re not going to “re-create him in the aggregate,” a la Moneyball. No team will just so happen to stumble on an above-average hitting catcher with arguably the best defense in the league in the middle of the season. But something has to be done. Perez and Heineman aren’t the answer behind the dish.
Both are terrible hitters, and both are below-average fielders. The Pirates need to find an above-average defender to take the reins behind the dish, at the very least. There has to be a low-cost minor leaguer who is a plus defensive catcher out there or a low-cost veteran like Austin Hedges the Pirates could pursue and get for nothing more than cash and maybe a low-level prospect.