The Pittsburgh Pirates have made the signing of catcher Austin Hedges official, while also designating Diego Castillo for assignment
Last week news broke that the Pittsburgh Pirates had signed veteran catcher Austin Hedges to a one-year contract. After signing Roberto Pérez to a one-year contract last offseason, it marked the second consecutive offseason in which the Pirates added a former Cleveland catcher via free agency.
This move was not made official until Tuesday when the Pittsburgh Pirates officially announced that they have signed Hedges to a one-year contract. This one-year deal is worth $5 million. Hedges will now be relied up to help carry a young Pirate pitching staff, while also serving as a mentor for Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis, both of whom are top-100 prospects in baseball.
Hedges told reporters on Tuesday that he grew up watching Pittsburgh Pirates games. He mentioned that as a kid Jason Bay was his favorite Pirate players. Now the 30-year-old Hedges will get to wear the black and gold in 2023.
Since making his MLB debut in 2015 Hedges has been one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. Hedges leads all MLB catchers with a +75 Defensive Runs Saved since 2015. He is also a strong pitch framer and controls opposing running games well.
The issue with Hedges is his offense. He owns a lifetime 52 wRC+ and 58 OPS+. In 2022, he posted a 42 OPS+ while ranking 276th out of 277 MLB hitters with at least 300 plate appearances in wRC+ at 42.
Hedges is set to wear no. 17 with the Pirates. Due to this, manager Derek Shelton will have to get a new jersey number for the 2023 season.
To make room for Hedges on the 40-man roster utility man Diego Castillo was designated for assignment. Castillo was a Grapefruit League star for the Pirates last spring, but his success never translated to the majors. Castillo hit for just a .206/.251/.382 slash line to go with a wRC+ of 73 and an OPS+ of 76 last season.