Pittsburgh Pirates: Final 2023 Opening Day Roster Projection
By Marty Leap
Catcher - Austin Hedges, Tyler Heineman
While there was some back-and-forth at times between Tyler Heineman and veteran Kevin Plawecki for who would backup Hedges to begin the season, it will be almost assuredly be Heineman. Plawecki has opted out of his minor league deal with the Pirates, and Heineman appears to have the edge over Jason Delay.
Offensively, the catcher position could be a bit of an albatross for the Pirates when the season begins. However, defensively, Hedges and Heineman could be one of the strongest duos in all of baseball.
Both Hedges and Heineman bring plus value as pitch framers. They both block the plate well, and have strong pop times to second base with Hedges's being one of the best in baseball. Additionally, since he made his MLB debut in 2015 Hedges leads all MLB catchers in Defensive Runs Saved.
They may not provide much offensively, but the defense and ability to help a pitcher work through the game this duo will bring, especially Hedges who will likely start 90% of the time, will be vital for a young Pirate pitching staff.