Tuesday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates placed catcher Austin Hedges on the 7-day concussion injured list and promoted Tyler Heineman from Triple-A
A Major League Baseball team can never have too much catching depth. Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh Pirates are already experiencing that fact. On Tuesday, the team placed catcher Austin Hedges on the 7-day concussion injured list, and Tyler Heineman's contract was selected from Triple-A Indianapolis.
Luckily for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Heineman accepted a minor league assignment after he lost his spring battle with Jason Delay for the team's backup catcher job. To make room for Heineman on the 40-man roster relief pitcher Edwin Uceta, who the team claimed off waivers from the Detroit Tigers over the weekend, was designated for assignment.
Heineman played 62 MLB games last season. Between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Toronto Blue Jays, the switch hitting Heineman accumulated 174 plate appearances. In these 174 PAs he hit for a .217/.276/.268 slash line. He posted a 58 wRC+, 57 OPS+, 4.6% walk rate, and a 9.8% strikeout rate last season.
This season Hedges was 0-for-7 at the plate with a walk, a run scored, a sacrifice bunt, and a strikeout. While Hedges is one of the worst hitters in the majors, he is one of the best defensive catchers in the game. He is a great pitch framer and at handling a pitching staff. Additionally, since making his MLB debut in 2015 Hedges leads all MLB catchers in Defensive Runs Saved.
A duo of Heineman and Delay is an offensive upgrade over Hedges, although that is not saying much as neither Heineman nor Delay is even a league average hitter. Even though they are a step down defensively from Hedges they are both still strong defensive catchers.
Hedges joins pitchers JT Bruabker, Jarlín García, and Robert Stephenson as Pirate players already on the IL early in the 2023 season.