Pittsburgh Pirates: Previewing the Backup Catcher Battle

Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals
Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
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Carter Bins

One of the catchers the Pirates is bringing into camp as a non-roster invitee is Carter Bins. Bins was acquired at the 2021 trade deadline in exchange for Tyler Anderson. Although he wasn’t the headliner of the deal, Bins has worked his way up to Triple-A. He certainly has some risk but does bring some interesting upside.

Last year, Bins batted just .196/.285/.388 across 330 plate appearances. Bins struggled to keep the strikeouts down, going down on strike three 36.7% of the time. But on the positive side, he had an 8.8% walk rate and a .192 isolated slugging percentage. Bins hit 11 home runs and has displayed plus raw power throughout the minor leagues. But even with the solid walk rate and power, he registered just a 78 wRC+, the 14th lowest mark among all catchers with 300+ plate appearances last year across all levels of the minor leagues.

Bins did end the season on a high note. After the All-Star Break, the catching prospect hit .228/.326/.456 with a 105 wRC+. Bins still struck out over a third of the time (35.6%), but he did up his walk rate to 11.4%. He also upped his power, hitting five home runs in just 132 plate appearances (an average of 23 home runs in 600 plate appearances) and owning a .228 ISO. While these still weren't overly impressive numbers and the reg flags were still massively present, he was slightly above average overall (albeit in a small sample size).

Bins can hold his own as a defensive catcher, but he isn’t outstanding either. He has a powerful arm, but he struggles with passed balls. He allowed eight last year in just 600.1 innings. In 2021, a dozen pitches got by him in even fewer innings (487.2). He’s not the worst defensive catcher of all time, but he certainly has his strengths and weaknesses.

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Bins is the most divisive option but the most intriguing. He’s a boom-or-bust kind of hitter who might give the team a dozen home runs but also strikeout in nearly 40% of his plate appearances. He’s definitely behind Heineman and Delay in terms of defense but is ahead of Kevin Plawecki. He might seem like he’s behind all other options, but the Pirates did give him an invite to Spring Training. Maybe an outstanding spring could turn some heads and give him an inside edge.