Chris Stewart Reportedly Agrees to Contract Extension

According to multiple sources, the Pirates have agreed to a contract extension with catcher Chris Stewart, who was set to become a free agent after the 2016 season. First reported by Robert Murray, Chris Cotillo has details on the signing, noting that it’s pending a physical. It will cover the 2016-17 seasons, plus the Pirates hold a team option for 2018. No salary figures have been announced. Stewart filed for arbitration yesterday. He made $1.225 M last year and was scheduled to make approximately $1.6 M this season.

Stewart has spent the last two seasons with the Pirates after they acquired him from the New York Yankees in exchange for minor league pitcher Kyle Haynes. Stewart started 37 games behind Russell Martin in 2014 and 36 games backing up Francisco Cervelli. He was acquired for his strong defense, but Stewart has developed into a better overall player. While he doesn’t provide a lot of offense, he has had his two best seasons at the plate since signing with the Pirates. The 33-year-old (turns 34 next month) has a .675 OPS with the Pirates, after posting a .577 OPS in three years with the Yankees.

UPDATE 3:30 PM: Analysis from Tim Williams…

Stewart has been a pretty consistent backup catcher, being worth anywhere from 0.5-1.2 fWAR from 2011-2015. He’s consistently just outside of the top 30 catchers in any given year group, and if you assume the top 30 are starters, that makes him one of the best performing backups in the game. He’s also one of the better pitch framers in the game, giving him more value.

Assuming this isn’t a big deal, this move makes a lot of sense. You can never have too much catching, and teams always need catching. If the Pirates get into a situation where they’ve got a replacement for Stewart, they could easily deal him away. Until then, they’ve got an established backup who is productive each year, and who has improved at the plate with their approach for him of putting the ball on the ground and going opposite field.

I don’t think this deal means anything for Francisco Cervelli or Elias Diaz, since this involves the backup catching role, and those two project as starters. It’s still possible that the Pirates could extend Cervelli. If that doesn’t happen, then the most likely scenario has Diaz taking over in 2017. The only thing that might impact the future for Diaz is extending Cervelli.

  • I’m ok with this as long as he isn’t Cole’s personal catcher again.

  • The Cubs made 3 big moves. Signed Hayward in which they extremely overpaid. 285 with 15 homers is not worth the money he got. Ben zobrist who most likely won’t even be able to finish out his contract due to his age and John lackey getting 2 years and 32 million. Come on guys. Those are horrible moves.

    • #analysis

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      January 15, 2016 11:27 am

      In the long run you may be right, but that doesn’t help us in 2016…and the Cubs have enough money that they likely don’t care if any of those guys are still on their team in 3 years.

  • Catcher has always been a defensive position but I think in today’s low offense game if you know you have a catcher that can throw, frame, and manage a game all well above average you can throw them out there and still have a guy you know will provide value. Especially in the Pirate’s system. As good as Diaz and McGuire look defensively and where offense is right now a guy that hits .250-.260, hits 10 HR, and can draw 50-60 walks per 600 ab might be a top 15-20 catcher. If Diaz has elite defense those numbers give you a top 5-10 catcher.

  • Stewart a good back up C and you always need one of those. Cervelli or Diaz is the starter in 2017 One can argue it may be better to get Diaz some time in mlb this year but to me it isn’t a big deal either way If cervelli is extended somehow then Diaz becomes a trade able prospect.

  • Looks like the plan is to go with Diaz in 2017 with Stewart as mentor…
    Unless they have a surprise in store for us it looks like the payroll is going to come in under $100M – maybe we’ll under…

    Right now they look like the 7th best NL team

    Cubs
    Cards
    Dodgers
    Giants
    Nationals
    D’backs
    Pirates
    Mets

    Baseball is a funny game and anything might happen as the season progresses – but this team is going to have to have a lot of things break there way to be in the running for a wild card

    • Yes that makes sense about the catching but I think the PBC is more powerful than the 7th team.

    • I could make a case for moving the Bucs up to 4 or 5 – but I could also make a case for dropping them to 8 if the Mets sign a top outfield FA – Cespedes? The certainly have the pitching and now they have an All Star 2nd baseman 🙂

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    January 14, 2016 5:45 pm

    “……makes him one of the best performing backups in the game.”
    Tim, on what basis do you make that statement? He cannot throw anyone out and he was one of the worst performing defensive catchers in all of MLB last year.
    I find this disappointing and I don’t get it, when you have Cervelli – plus Diaz knocking on the door. The Pirates say they want to be a good defensive team, but their personnel decisions are not consistent with that statement….
    This says one of two things – (1) we are not going to pay what it takes to re-sign Cervelli and/or (2) we do not intend to provide Diaz a real shot at the making the Pittsburgh roster anytime soon.

    • Nobody could throw out runners at a high percentage given the Bucs unwillingness to have pitchers do anything to try and hold runners.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        January 14, 2016 8:28 pm

        There may be some truth to that, but that is also a convenient excuse. Martin caught for the same pitching staff and had much greater success. Have you seen many of Stewart’s throws? He does not have a very strong or accurate arm. He made 9 errors last year in very limited work.
        Whatever they spent on this contract, along with the ones they gave Vogelsong and Rodriguez, they could have signed an actually competent LH reliever for the bullpen to pair with Watson.
        This team whines about payroll, but they then make moves like this. Most small market teams embrace opportunities to work young (and cheap) players into their rosters….to offset the higher salaries of their top players….not this team. Stewart is weak defensively and is strictly a singles hitter. Diaz would be an upgrade over him now…

        • Diaz could not hit Venezuela pitching – which is a notch below AAA I believe – what makes anyone think he will be more than a .220 singles hitting catcher with little or no power.

          Stewart actually had a slightly HIGHER CS rate than Cervelli…

    • I agee. He may be a good pitch framer but he had several costly errors last year. Failure to block balls in the dirt scored as wild pitches and some flat out whiffs trying to catch the ball…more than once the announcers said “it had to be a mix-up in the signs, how could he miss it that bad?” This may be inexpensive insurance but last year his defense was just not up to the level ofprior years.

  • If Bucs now sign Cervelli to an extension…..it means 1 of the “wave” of prospects (Diaz) has drowned…:)

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      January 14, 2016 5:46 pm

      Typical Pirates….keep blocking their own prospects….trade Diaz then, so he at least has a chance to play somewhere else…like we should have done with Sanchez 2-3 years ago. Maybe we can package Melancon and Diaz, and get a real #3 starter.

      • How is this extension for our back up catcher blocking prospects. Why would you bring Diaz up to back up for a whole year. He’s a starter and needs to be starting. Cervelli sees what 2 years of turning his game around did for Martin so he’d be dumb not to see what he could get in free agency. Cervelli is a stop gap till Diaz is ready and nothing more. This has no affect on Diaz as a starting catcher in pgh.

        • BuccosFanStuckinMD
          January 14, 2016 8:33 pm

          Let me ask you this question…given his horrid defense and weak bat, why would you re-sign a 34 year old journeyman to a multi-year deal, when you have a promising young catcher in Indy? Did someone hold a gun to NH’s head to force him to do that? This team was bad defensively last year (except for the LF and CF), and that cost them the division. I would think they would want to rectify that – but they’ve done little to nothing to do so.

          Diaz has a cannon for an arm and could make a significant impact for the team defensively, and help neutralize guys like Hamilton who run all over this team.

  • I really like Chris as a backup and from what I’ve seen he is a positive influence in the dugout and a great teammate. Having said that, I’m still trying to make sense of this move. I have read many times that catchers are some of the last prospects to make it to the majors, but this means Diaz starts the season back in Indy and plays the year as injury filler. There is no way the Bucs keep three catchers that can only catch. Could this mean a trade of Cervelli is imminent? A major league starting catcher for a major league mid-rotation pitcher?

    • Possibly who is in need of a catcher other then texas

      • To me, they’ll look at it in July, depending on the standings. If he duplicates 2015, maybe they hang on to him an offer a QO? Not to keep him, as to recoup a pick.

  • If you’re going into a season planning on it being a re-tooling year – and yes, that’s exactly what the Pirates are doing – I don’t understand why you would block your future starting catcher from getting at bats.

    Get Elias Diaz comfortable this year in a part time role – just like they are with Alen Hanson, Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow – and you put yourself that much further ahead in 2017. Or better/worse, find out if he’s really the guy you want at an incredibly important position during Mcutchen’s last year in Pittsburgh.

    • “and yes, that’s exactly what the Pirates are doing”

      Hmm.

      Nah.

      • I give them much more credit than you do.

        They’re far too smart to actually believe the club they put on the field Opening Day is a division contender. They’re very clearly choosing not to build the kind of depth required so that prospects have opportunity throughout the year.

        • “They’re very clearly choosing not to build the kind of depth required so that prospects have opportunity throughout the year.”

          +a million

          • Christ, even Huntington is calling this a “bridging” year.

            Why fans can’t just admit the obvious is beyond me.

            • Cervelli, Harrison, Liriano, boatload of first baseman available in july.

              • Eh, I still think they’ll be too good to sell.

              • I wouldn’t be surprised if Liriano stays a Pirate beyond his current contract.

                • I’m the opposite, he’s got 6 months left in a uniform. Unless they are in a race. You got more faith in 3-5 and a bunch of rookies than I do.

                  • You know what “in a race” means with the second wildcard, right?

                    • Yes. You saw Vogelsong pitch ten years ago, right? 🙂

                    • I in no way like vogelsong at the 5, but you are being unfair to him.

                      He’s likely to be not very good, but he can also throw out a stretch of 3-4 ERA ball…he did it for a period last year. Its a gamble, and one i dont like, but you literally act like he’s 4 years from ever being good over a 10 game stretch.

                    • Me? Or him?

                    • Says something when your fans have resorted to the “hey, anyone can rattle off a good stretch if they get lucky” stage of denial.

                    • Im not in denial. You’d easily be able to tell that by my (TWICE) saying i dont like the move. Me saying its a bad risk. Idk, i made that as clear as day while also issuing the opinion that acting like he’s been crap for 4 years and he’s a 0 chance of being good is just not true.

                      He’s a poor risk but he’s not been so bad he’s unable to throw out a stretch of not “holy shit poor” recently. Im not predicting that or calling that likely, but that he’s done it and to act like he’s useless at all times isnt fair to his results. Last year was a giant back and forth month to month for him, bad good bad good.

                    • I’m just pointing this out so karma will kick me in this ass with a 1.39 ERA through mid-May. Reverse psychology!

                    • Vogelsong is just coming back to finish up his career as he started it. Maybe he’ll leave a nice big terd on the team bus the day after he is released and subsequently retires, just as a “forget me not”

                    • Never trust a guy with transition lenses…

                    • To be honest, I’d like to have Cueto next year but not in 3 years. Maybe Sabean is leaving soon.

                    • Well we need him to be his 34 year old self for the first ten starts of the season. I am not sure how to assign a statistical likelihood for that, but i’m sure its not something i’d take even money on in vegas.

                  • I have faith in the entire team. They can still win alot of games with Niese, Locke, and Vogey. Especially with a solid bullpen, a better defense, and an improved offense. This is still a team good enough to win 85+ games and most non-regional writers think that.

                    • I just think their second half will be reliant a young players. And even though they might be good one day, nowhere is the jump bigger from AAA to the show.

                    • You mean like the 100 win Cardinals were reliant on young players last year when nearly all their best players got hurt?

                      Pirates take their time developing their best prospects with the hope they’re ready to contribute positively from day 1. And considering the core is young and star packed, it’s not like they are banking on these kids coming up and leading the charge.

                  • I think Liriano stays into 2017 unless the Pirates really falter next year. I expect them to be competitive even working in the young players.

                  • He’s not overpriced, why do you trade him. We are not in need to repower our prospect ranks, even with all the promotions. You still need him for 2017- More likely you trade Niese as he is more easily replaced by the value of the kids coming up

                    • I think they can get a lot for him.

                    • I’m absolutely not saying this to being a smart ass because I know i come off that way accidentally sometimes, but “so what?” Who cares if they can when they need him and can’t replace his role on the team for that season

                    • I look at the amount of pitchers they should have coming through in the next 18 months along with Lirianos movable contract and LHness and think he’s a movable piece.

                      Bridge year, man. Think they are only going to win around 80 games, trade some pieces in July.

                    • They need Liriano in 2017 in this bridge though, none of these pitchers are going to be #2 pitchers in their first full year in the majors. He just isn’t expendable. Not because 16, because of 17

                    • You have a 2017 rotation of Cole, Liriano, Taillon, Glasnow, and Neise. again, explain to me why you trade a piece which gives you that better much chance of winning a championship to get pieces for the future that you don’t need.

                    • I just think he’s a similar case to Melancon. Resigning him would be expensive and a little risky. Trade him at full value with a year and change on his deal, and they probably get something back pretty nice.

                      It’s just my opinion. If they are out of it in July, I think they could move a lot of pieces.

                    • Why would you resign him? He is signed through 2017. The point is, we need him in 2017, after the year assuming he’s still good, he is worth a free 1st round draft pick….this isn’t a piece you move, because you cannot replace him for 13 million at a #2 slot for 2017.

                    • We’re on different wavelengths. You are buying into all these rookies coming up and playing good ball right away. I am not. And I’m not saying you are wrong either.

                      I just think this year will be tough and at the deadline they’ll have decisions to make on a number of players they may not be able to keep down the road. Liriano is one of them in my opinion, and the player they can get the most for.

                    • Arthur- you are even wrong about what wavelength you think I’m on and what wavelength the Pirates are on (at least as far as I can tell). They are NOT rebuilding, they are taking 1 step back and hoping to still make the playoffs this year, and looking to win the division in 2017. No matter what happens this year, no matter how bad we are. Whether Taillon’s arm falls off, Glasnow looks like the incarnation of Mark Langston, and Josh Bell has a random hunting accident….none of that changes that you still 100% need Liriano in order to have a change at winning the division in 2017. Can we agree on that? Because that is why he won’t and can’t and shouldn’t be traded. We aren’t in tear down mode and won’t be no matter what happens in the front side of 2016, given that we don’t have this core together forever- If we trade Liriano, we might as well trade Cutch too.

                    • Stay Tuned, brother.

                      The Pirates are not in a postion to let guys hit FA. To max out a return, you trade them with more than a year on their deal.

                      But like always, I hope im wrong. All the Pirates prospects will turn out and Steve Blass can throw strikes again.

                    • I hope you are wrong as well. I don’t think the Pirates are trying to Max out return right now, if they were, Melancon and Cutch would already be gone.
                      What is more valuable? 1.5 more years at a huge discount for a #2 pitcher plua a #1 draft pick in compensation or the prospects you get via trade. In my opinion, #1 is.
                      Our organization is not in need of anything right now, and still won’t be even after this crop comes up…..regardless of how good or bad they turn out. It just seems like you are thinking this is the old Pirates and not the contending Pirates. We traded Walker for instance, but for a ML player of roughly the same value filling a need- this is not moves a team makes if it is trying to max out value. I’m not saying it’s not possible or won’t happen, but it wouldn’t make any sense it it did.

                    • A team trying to win a championship next year (and they better be because they sure as hell aren’t for 2016) needs a good #2- and none of those young pitchers will be ready for that, and we can’t afford to replace him at 13 million.

            • Except he’s explicitly not.

              https://www.piratesprospects.com/2015/12/huntington-on-morton-niese-hanson-taillon-melancon-nicasio-goebbert-cubs.html

              There has been a lot of talk lately that the 2016 season could be a
              bridge year to 2017, which is a though that Huntington said the Pirates don’t have.

              “I may have even set the tone for that by accident, by talking about
              we’ve got a very good core in place, we have a really good young core coming, and we’ve got to do what we can in trades and free agency to bridge that,” Huntington said. “My intent was bridge that to still put us in position to win the division. It wasn’t that we intend to take a step back. It was that we intend to add players that put us in a position to win this division.”

              • I mean you may take it as “obvious” that the Pirates surely can’t “actually believe the club they put on the field Opening Day is a division contender,” but plenty of people said the same thing prior to both 2014 and 2015 so I don’t know why you think you’re worthy of more credibility here than anyone else.

                • I don’t know what “people” you’re talking about, but FanGraphs called them the deepest team in baseball heading into last year. Olney picked them to win the World Series.

                  This year, there is a distinct, obvious difference in depth and most importantly, quality of depth. This isn’t *my* opinion.

                  That’s not how you build a division contender, and the Pirates know it.

                  • I don’t really get what you are saying. Reading all your posts you seem to be suggesting the Pirates are good enough to get a wildcard but not win a division. That just seems counterintuitive to me. If a basebal team has a shot at the wildcard they almost surely have a shot at their division.

                    I actually think the opposite is more likely to be true. A team may not be good enough for a wildcard spot but is good enough to win their division. Take the Marlins for example I don’t see them as a wildcard threat but an injury or two to a Mets pitcher and they are certainly a division threat.

                    The only way this makes sense is if you see the Cubs or Cardinals as some juggernaut that is all but guaranteed to win 100 games and we know there is no such thing as that in baseball.

                    • Well *of course* they “have a shot”! This is baseball, crazy things happen every year.

                      As fans, we always hold out hope that the stars will align. However, what I’m talking about here is likelihood. Probability. Not possibility. There’s a dozen teams or more that could play the same “what if” games needed to make the Pirates a clear favorite.

                      Your Marlins scenario only exists in shitty divisions…the Mets last year as the literal example. I know you pay attention enough to know the Pirates most certainly do not play in a shitty division…

                    • Nearly everyone lists us in every category behind the cubs and cards – that means that we have to outplay, or injuries have to decimate- not 1, but 2 teams which are evidently “better than us” in order to win the division. The Nationals have a good of a chance of beating the Mets as we have of beating both of those teams as our roster is currently put together- do you like those odds?

                  • Said perfectly- some teams like the cubs last year and the mets- get lucky- I’m afraid that we saw how well those players did and say, “lets try it too!” but the mets and cubs SUCKED and had no expectations, we are already playoff contenders clearly taking a step back with the hopes that they can get that 2nd wild card and have a team by the end of the year, that is good enough to win it.

                    • I still don’t see how we took a step back. Please explain In further detail. The Cubs haven’t improved as much as people think and what have the cardinals done? They signed a marginal pitcher for $80 million dollars

                    • Okay- This isn’t that hard to lay out for you. Subtract the WAR values from the players we let sign elsewhere or traded, or retired. add the WAR values back from the players we received. If you want “data” instead of common sense information, that is all you need. Otherwise if you feel that Niese, Nicasio and Vogelsong> Morton, Happ, and Burnett that is your right. Aram and Pedro are gone, Walker is gone, and to replace them we have……….Jaso, Rogers, and……Pedro Feliz. I would love to hear anyone’s idea that this team is not lesser than it was at the end of the season. And something to back it up other than drinking too much alcohol

                    • We replaced Morton with Niese- We haven’t replaced Burnett with anyone
                      and that’s the problem. Vogelsong is only there for depth to compete
                      with Locke nothing more. Astros weren’t bridging, they are in the early
                      stages of a COMPLETE REBUILD- no expectations of winning makes winning
                      easier, noone sees them coming. We don’t have that luxury or the luxury
                      of playing in that awful division Houston is in. Astros lose 100 games
                      last year and noone would have cared.

                • No NMR is right- Because this team is not as good on paper, a chalkboard, papyrus, or a cave drawing as the team coming into last year- literally noone can argue that right now. I still think we will do some smart moves before spring training, but i only want one- a pitcher with a strong upside that is coming off a bad year but has good career numbers. I just want 1 starting pitcher under 35 years old whom has ever been higher than a #4 in any rotation since hs/college. Not too much to ask is it? It’s not, because we can afford it and trying to be “cute” with relief pitching is a really sad way to mask their cheapness if they decide to go that route. If they don’t get Fister or Latos for example, it’s because we are cheap, period.

              • Hahaha…I bet you’d pay sticker price at a used car dealership, too.

                • Was 2013 a “bridging year” because they had Gerrit Cole waiting in the wings? Was 2014 a “bridging year” because there was great expectation for Polanco to come up and provide a big boost at some point? Just because the team has several highly touted prospects that they believe will make an impact this season doesn’t mean they’re treating this season like a casual warm-up for 2017 and beyond. You may think that they are because the moves they’ve made don’t light your fire or whatever but we’ve heard the same stuff repeated each of the past two winters so forgive me if I’m not rushing to the top of the dogpile.

                  • Again, this is not just me.

                    Take the blinders off for a second.

                  • Also, remind me what year it was the last time *four* prospects were left room to impact the Major League club.

                    Sure as hell wasn’t any you listed.

                  • 1 prospect is not a bridging year because we had quality depth both years and were not in the crapper if those players struggled. This year we do not have that depth if these kids fail or just falter out of the gate- in fact we are going with crap in multiple areas which hurts us early in the season and costs us wins, even if the kids are as advertised right out of the gate when they are brought up- We are counting on Glasnow, Taillon, Bell, and Hanson this year. No offense, but 4 rookies is most definitely a bridge year.

            • To me bridging means they build the best team they can without making commitments that don’t makes sense given the pending influx of prospects being ready. No where does that imply they aren’t trying to contend.

              The idea that they don’t believe they are a contender is laughable. They are currently projected by Steamer for exactly the same record as the Cardinals & Mets (and Blue Jays for that matter), 2 games behind the Giants, 4 behind the Nats. No one would argue those teams aren’t contenders.

              • Who said they aren’t a contender for the second wild card? Surely not me, who has said literally that exact thing many times this thread.

                The politicians on stage last night couldn’t have twisted that first paragraph better. Their *stated* goal is to contend for the Division. Buried in all that spin is the inherent admittance that leaving room for a cadre of prospects means the players actually playing the games that count until the time prospects arrive are eminently replaceable. That player type is not very good at baseball. It takes good baseball players to win a division as tough as the current NL Central.

                They’re taking a step back this year – with the outside chance still being there – in order to be better in the future. Or at least that’s the plan.

                • I am not as pessimistic about 2016 as you, though your assessment about the bridge year is correct. But the assumption of a poorer outcome may not be. The outfield will likely put up more War this year than last
                  The infield may actually put up more WAR as well, though mix of contribution will favor defense over offense. C may see a slight regression. The bullpen will be stronger. Regarding the rotation, 1 and 2 are the same or better. 3 is open pending a signing, 4 is improved 5 the same. Now if a 3 isn’t signed and Vogelsong does start then the rotation is weaker to start the year than last year. But if Taillon and Glasgow work out then the rotation at the end of the season could be stronger than last year. So I don’t see the case for pessimism.

                  • And my primary reason for pessimism is what you have not acknowledged: depth, or lack there of.

                    Everything you said certainly can happen, but we know *all* of it won’t. Baseball never works out that way. There will be injuries. There will be underperformance. This is a fact of baseball life. How clubs compensate for those inevitable losses largely determines how successful they’ll be over 162 games.

                    Think about the 2013-2014 Reds, for example. Largely the same teams, but the ’14 squad had nothing as far as depth past their starters. Votto goes down, Bruce goes down, Phillips struggles and even better perforamnce from Frazier and a good debut from Hamilton can’t lift their offense. The starting staff goes from 1 game started from a replacement level pitcher to 21 in ’14. The results were disastrous.

                    I’m not predicting a scenario *that* gloomy for the Pirates, but in an extremely tough division even a fraction of that scenario playing out leaves the Pirates fighting for a second WC spot.

                    • I understand your points, and agree to an extent. But I think we disagree on whether MLB unproven, but high value prospects can be considered as depth. I look at Taillon, Glasnow, Hanson and Bell as depth, even though their actual performance in MLB is unknown. You seem to discount them because of their total lack of experience. I am more willing to live with the risk that they may not work out, whereas you prefer the more cautious approach, not willing to depend on something unproven. There isn’t a right/wrong preference here, just a difference in tolerance for ambiguity.

            • I agree this is a “bridging” year but the Pirates still have enough talent and experience to contend if things break right. No matter how good the Cubs & Cardinals look on paper, lots of things can happen during the season. I could see the division winner with 90-92 victories.

            • Certain MLB radio experts have them as a 95 win team. Pretty good for rebuilding.

            • You mean like the Astro’s bridging year last year?
              You NMR have no idea or evidence or facts or inside information to assume this club isn’t playoff capable and ready. 3 years in a row says we’re a team to beat not the other way around. AND we’ve clearly upgraded the roster already to make us better at 1st – replaced AJ with Neise, improved the bullpen, and have two of the top pitching prospects in the entire game about to break in.
              The future is bright my friend no matter how much you want to try to dilute it.

        • It does seem that way so far, maybe they are banking on the ability to make trades as the season go on if they need to…..hard to tell really

    • How would they do that, even without the Stewart extension, he and Cervelli were going to be the guys in the majors, unless you want to carry 3 catchers. The only way for this year Diaz moved into a backup role is if one of them got hurt or one them is traded. Is Cervelli being shopped right now?? I certainly hope not.

      • The same way almost every other catcher in the league gets broken in, as a backup. This isn’t difficult.

        Allow Diaz to play every day in Indy to start the year, and when they feel he’s ready – I’d say around the halfway mark – replace Stewart with him.

        • Or, and this comes up with a team well off contention so somewhat unlikely, move Cervelli if he’s having a good year and really give Diaz experience.

          Again, thats unlikely with 2 WCs but it is something to consider.

    • At the very least they are balking on the first half of this year which based on their competition is throwing away aka retooling this year

      • Speaking of balking on the first half, if Diaz isn’t broken in this year is he really going to be on the Opening Day roster in 2017? The first prospect *ever* under Huntington to hold that distinction?

        And if not, does that not mean that Chris Stewart is your starting catcher for first two months of the year, at least?

        • I would trade Diaz for an equal value prospect and keep McGuire as the long term option.

          • And do what with the Major League club?

            • Sign Cervelli to an extension, maintain the status quo for 2-3 more years. McGuire is likely 2-3 years away. Beyond that, use either Cervelli or Stewart to help McGuire settle in.

              • I would guess unless it is a very friendly player deal, Cervelli and his agent will bank on a healthy productive year and go out on the market.
                Any guess what extension now would look like? And would Bucs pay it?

                • Something like the 3/$21m deal Jarrod Saltalamachia signed after his 3.5 WAR “breakout” as a 29 year old?

                  Not a lot of good, average catcher comps lately.

    • Given his struggles with the bat last year and this winter (or fall, I don’t remember), there’s a decent chance the team isn’t sold on him. This deal gives them stability at backup catcher this year in case Diaz doesn’t prove he’s ready to come up and be a Big Leaguer, and then for the next few whether Diaz proves he can be the starting catcher or Cervelli gets extended, so whoever is around has a solid backup.

      If Diaz knocks vigorously on the door this year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stewart moved to make room for him. He’s a solid backup catcher, and every team needs one of those, and he’s unlikely to make a ton of money, so the contract is likely very movable.

      Of course, moving him might not be necessary. Players get hurt, and catchers are even more prone to it than most. For that reason alone, keeping a stable option is useful, and it doesn’t necessarily mean the team doesn’t want to ease Diaz in as a backup.

      • Struggles with the bat last year?

        • His overall numbers were fine, but didn’t he get there with a stretch of knocking the cover off the ball and another, longer stretch of struggling mightily, or am I remembering someone else?

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        January 14, 2016 8:36 pm

        And the answer to any concerns over Diaz’s bat (which is ridiculous) is to re-sign Stewart – who is bad defensively and is strictly a singles hitter?
        If Stewart was a stud defensively and had a great arm throwing out runners, this would make some sense…but he is neither.

    • Let’s not forget that month Diaz was on the active roster in 2015…pretty much means he won’t be called up until mid/late July. Which makes it nice if, say, the Pirates were thinking of trading Cervelli at the deadline.

      Kind of wondering if the retooling year is going to involve a fire sale.

      Melancon? Cervelli? He who (patrols centerfield and) shall not be named?

      • This is still a good team. They’ll win ball games. And with the second wildcard, you have to reeeaaallly be bad to throw in the towel at the deadline.

        The only way they’ll be sellers is if injuries hit them hard early in the year. They don’t have anywhere close to the kind of depth needed to tread water if key players miss significant time.

        • It will be interesting to see the psychology of NH this season.

          A contending team? Yes.

          Two very good players on that team who won’t be back in ’17 and who he can’t extend a QO to? Yes.

          Does he let it ride and go for it all? Does he condense and try to stock the system?

          If they’re contending and Diaz is ready and there’s strong BP pitching at Indy…does he try to do both?

          Honestly, I have no idea…he’s never been in this situation so there’s no history to judge predictions upon.

          Now, granted…if he who shall not be named is traded…yeah, that’s tossing in the towel on 2016…well, unless Meadows if torching AAA pitching… 🙂

          • If this winter is any indication, it’ll be some wishy washy middle ground of committing to neither option.

            • I think NH is trying to do both, which should be able to occurr if he does it right. They can walk and chew gum at the same time. Create transitions for prospects while remaining a team that can compete for October. Not sure why there has to be a choice made.

              • I could not possible agree less.

                When have baseball teams *ever* been successful without committing to a focused plan?

                This game is too damn hard, especially with the competition the Pirates face this year.

                • The added depth they have to contend in 2016 are the prospects…Glasnow, Taillon, Bell, Diaz, Hanson…if there’s injuries, if theres spots available, these guys will be up, most likely all of them next year, some for good. Theyre all (minus Diaz) Top 100 prospects. Maybe hoping for immediate productivity is asking a lot, but I do think some will be able contribute and make the team better right now in conjunction with the veterans they have. Heck, our two major competitors, Cardinals and Cubs had tons of rookies playing impact roles on their teams. Piscotty, Bryant, Russell, Schwarber etc etc…I think the Cubs success with a lot of rookies was the exception, but you look at a guy like Piscotty and you have think the Pirates got at least 1 guy like that who could get called up and immediately have an impact.

                • The Pirates have clearly stated that their objective is to be in contention for the divisional title ad infinitum.The only way for a small market team to do that is to make room for your star prospects when they are ready and let them play. You understand that. Why all the angst when it happens? Player development is an area where you can’t “have your cake and eat it too”. The Pirates can’t both play their cagey veterans and develop their young future stars at the same positions at the same time. If you are going to develop Hanson you have to let Walker go. Why moan about it?

                  • Angst? From me? You’re mistaken. This may have not been my *preferred* strategy, but I can’t wait to see all these kids come up this year; Hanson slashing balls to the gap and flying around second, Diaz showing off his arm, Bell lacing liners…

                    I feel I’m just more pragmatic about the situation than a lot are right now. Yes, *of course* the stars could align, Cubs and Cards take a step back for whatever reason as the Buc’s kids come up and contribute immediately. Anything can happen in baseball. But we *know* the likelihood of that happening. The Cubs wouldn’t have been the story of baseball last year if what they accomplished didn’t fall on the extreme end of the probability spectrum. Same with the Cards losing so much talent and still winning 100.

                    The Pirates are playing for the second wildcard. And they have the talent to get there. But all this division talk rings hollow.

    • I see what you did there, have Pirates trading Cutch away before his last year of current deal. I wouldn’t be so sure that’s a done deal, NMR.

      • Oh, *I* don’t think I’d do it…when do you ever seen a superstar traded and the prospects return actually end up working out better?

        I just don’t think Huntington will be able to resist stocking the farm.

  • Stewart proved last year that he is underrated and a valuable bench player.

    • It means that in 2018 Stewart will likely be traded back to the Yankees or Diaz will be traded to the yankees for their catcher, don’t fret

  • I hope this doesn’t prevent us from getting future ex-Yankee catchers.

  • There’s value in having a decent backup catcher that knows his role and the pitching staff. If they extend Cervelli, then Diaz becomes a good trade chip. If Cervelli leaves, then we have a veteran to back up Diaz. Either way this should help the team–good move.

  • This could also mean they try to extend Cervelli and trade Diaz.

  • mike_carlini66
    January 14, 2016 3:19 pm

    This may sound crazy but is this a back up plan if Cervelli doesn’t sign an extension and walks as a FA next off season? This is the only thing I can think of that makes sense here.

    • I think you nailed it, Mike. Stewart will be a mentor and backup to Diaz next year if Cervelli is not extended.

      • Solid backup catcher. Also a great great clubhouse guy. Nice to see he will be sticking around.

      • Exactly.

        They’re going with Diaz in 2017, and were always going to need a vet to caddy him for at least that rookie season. Took care of it this winter instead of next, that’s all.

        • Its too bad, I really like Cervelli. I hope they get a deal done. I like Diaz as a prospect, but I question if the bat is good enough. Same goes for McGuire for that matter. Both are good defensively, but the bat’s are suspect.

          • Talk to me this time next year – it’s just about impossible *not* to look good propped up by a .360 BABIP.

            • This comment was less about Cervelli and more about the latter two.

            • I think Cervelli will soon be a .725-.750 OPS catcher and not what he was last year but I do think he is capable of slightly better defense so he was at 3.1 WAR last year. I think he’s a legit 2.0-2.5 WAR player. That’s pretty good. Throw in the framing and being a bilingual catcher and he’s a valuable free agent.

          • Irrelevant- you have these guys so that you can hand the baton to them and let them run. You don’t sign old catchers and trade young ones- they are too expensive to replace

        • We already saw what Martin got as an FA. Cervelli is not Martin but Cervelli had the .771 OPS in 2015 and another year near .750 and he will be getting 4-5 years and 40-50 mil.

  • Does this mean they are hedging their bets re: Cervelli extension?

    • I think it means a Cervelli extension was never really considered a viable path to take. I’m inclined to agree; either he is mostly healthy and mostly as productive as he was last season, in which case he’s in line for a pretty significant deal, or else he sees regression and/or reverts to his injury-prone ways, in which case is that really a guy you want to be signing long-term into his 30s? With Diaz (and later, McGuire) on the very near horizon, it makes some amount of sense to lock in a truthworthy big-league caddy in Stewart, but not as much to overplay your hand on Cervelli.

      • Or Cervelli declined an offer so they went to Stew.

        • It’s possible, but frankly I just don’t see great upside in extending Cervelli right now, as outlined above, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the team thought similarly.

  • Well, there’s one catcher domino falling. Misread that one Arthur.

  • Why?

    • Cervelli will be priced out of Buc internal value if he has another healthy season.
      Good back up for Diaz in 2017

      • Exactly- There isn’t a much steadier backup in the league than Stewart- he ticks me off sometimes with his throwing errors, but as a backup, his big hits and much better performance at the plate vs. his earlier career is like a big warm blanket that you kept from college. It’s not fashionable, but its comfortable and it does its job. This is one player you can’t measure with OPS to determine his value at the plate, and he does a good job defensively even with his problem of rushing throws when he should probably not throw at all. His signing almost guarantees you’ll see cervelli leave and Diaz be the starter next year.

    • If he’s making between 1.5 and 4 million per year, why not? Doesnt alter the ability to sign Cervelli (if thats a want), doesnt really alter the timeline a ton for Diaz (if they want him in the majors). Idk, i dont want him blocking Diaz but i also dont want the team one injury away from Diaz starting this year, nor some random backup behind him the following year.

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