Five Things the Pittsburgh Pirates Need to Do in June

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /
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SAN DIEGO, CA – MAY 27: Tyler Heineman #54 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws to first base but can’t get the out on Eric Hosmer #30 of the San Diego Padres during the fifth inning of a baseball game on May 27, 2022 at Petco Park in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA – MAY 27: Tyler Heineman #54 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws to first base but can’t get the out on Eric Hosmer #30 of the San Diego Padres during the fifth inning of a baseball game on May 27, 2022 at Petco Park in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

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.

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