The Pirates need catching.
They only have one catcher on their MLB roster right now: Jacob Stallings.
None of the catching prospects in the minors grade inside our top 50, and none of them grade higher than a backup in the majors. If we’re currently projecting a 2023 lineup, Stallings is the starting catcher in that lineup.
I think Stallings can stick as a big league backup. We’ve long had him as a Chris Stewart clone, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him remain in the big leagues as a backup. But he’s not a guy who you want as your starter — whether that’s in 2020, 2023, or any extended period in between.
The Pirates need a catcher for the 2020 season, but they also need a catcher of the future.
Elias Diaz was the previous best option, but was non-tendered yesterday after a horrible 2019 season. The Pirates could still try to bring him back on a smaller deal and see what he can do. At this point, it wouldn’t hurt, especially since the team doesn’t look to be heading toward contending in 2020.
Since the team doesn’t look to be a contender in 2020, their catching options for the short-term should be cheaper lottery ticket style starters, focusing primarily on defense and work with the pitching staff. The latter is especially important, as working with Mitch Keller and other young pitchers in the next year or two is far more important for the future than having a good hitting catcher in the next year or two.
Long-term, the Pirates need to find a catcher. They’ve got a few guys who they can trade from the MLB club this year, and one of those trades could bring in a catcher of the future. Getting a catcher via trade seems like the best option. The Pirates pick seventh in the 2020 MLB draft, and right now it looks like a catcher in that spot would be a reach. While they do need a catcher for the long-term, they have a bigger need for as much talent as possible in the system.
I think they’d be fine in 2020 with Stallings and a lottery ticket style guy splitting the work. They’re not contending in 2020, and this approach could benefit the pitchers. The bigger thing to watch this offseason will be how they address their catching situation in the long-term, and whether they bring in a young catcher of the future option.
SONG OF THE DAY
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
By John Dreker
One of the slower dates for Pittsburgh Pirates born on this day. Just three players and none of them were around long with the Pirates. I also included two transactions of note below.
Steve Carter, outfielder for the 1989-90 Pirates. His big league career lasted 14 games and he had 21 at-bats, with three hits, including a double and a homer. Carter played all three outfield spots during his brief time, though he only got starts in right field. He was drafted five times before he signed, including the first time with the Pirates in 1983 and the last time in 1987. He was born on the same exact day at Major League pitcher Jeff Carter, but they are not twins.
Lou Marone, relief pitcher for the 1969-70 Pirates. Just like Carter, Marone had a brief big league career that was spent entirely with the Pirates over two seasons. He made 29 appearances in 1969, posting a 2.55 ERA in 35.1 innings. He made just one early season appearance in 1970, allowing one run in 2.1 innings. Marone was a 30th round pick of the Pirates in 1965. His cousin John D’Acquisto pitched ten years in the majors (1973-82), making 22 appearances against the Pirates during that time.
Harry Simpson, outfielder for the 1959 Pirates. He finished his eight-year big league career with the Pirates in 1959, hitting .267 in nine games. Simpson had the name “Suitcase” because it seemed like he was always on the move during his career, which spanned 19 seasons, including stints in the Negro Leagues and Mexico. He hit over 200 homers in his pro career.
On this date in 1982, the Pirates signed second baseman Jose Lind as an amateur free agent. He played for the Pirates for six seasons (1987-92), hitting .255 with 50 stolen bases, 292 runs scored and 249 RBIs in 779 games. He won a Gold Glove in 1992.
On this date in 1984, the Pirates selected catcher Junior Ortiz in the Rule 5 draft from the New York Mets. He was originally with the Pirates in 1982-83, but he was traded to the Mets in the middle of the 1983 season. After the Rule 5 draft, he spent four more seasons in Pittsburgh and the backup catcher.