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Could the Pirates Turn to the Trade Market for Catching Help?

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It’s been a busy offseason for the Pirates in terms of transactions involving catchers. The team traded Jacob Stallings to the Marlins, signed free agent Roberto Perez, designated Michael Perez for assignment and brought in Jamie Ritchie and Taylor Davis as non-roster invitees.

Looking at the roster after the flurry of moves, the Bucs have just one-catcher on their 40-man roster. Now, it’s entirely possible that the latter Perez could again serve as the backup catcher, or Ritchie or Davis could emerge in spring training and take the reins, but Pittsburgh could be looking for an external addition.

The free agent market for catchers is bare, and that’s putting it lightly. There are some teams around the league who have an excess of catching options that make them logical trade partners with the Pirates. If the Bucs decide to go this route, there are a few names that would make some sense.

Connor Wong, Boston Red Sox

Wong is versatile, capable of playing infield and outfield spots but is a natural catcher with the bulk of his time coming behind the dish. Fangraphs ranks him as Boston’s 23rd-best prospect. He may not be available, but he’s blocked on the depth chart right now behind Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki.

For his minor league career, Wong has slashed .272/.333/.498 with 56 home runs across just shy of 300 career games. He got his first taste of big league action in 2021, where he went 4-for-13 in six games.

William Contreras, Atlanta Braves

The younger brother of Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, William is just 24 years old and like Wong with the Red Sox, is blocked on the Braves roster. In 56 Major League games with the Braves, Contreras has slashed .225/.308/.405 with eight home runs and 24 runs driven in.

Contreras struggled some last year defensively, but he projects to be at least an average defensive catcher with a plus-arm.

Victor Caratini, San Diego Padres

The most veteran name on this list, Caratini has five big league season under his belt, the most recent coming with the Padres. The Padres could look to move the 28-year-old with top prospect Luis Campusano on the way. Caratini is a light-hitter, amassing just an OPS+ of 82 for his career, but has an overall solid reputation as a defender. With that being said, Caratini rated below league average a season ago in both DRS (-6) and pitch framing (-3). Looking back to 2020 with the Cubs, Caratini posted 1 DRS and +3 when it came to pitching framing.

Reese McGuire, Toronto Blue Jays

If this name sounds familiar it’s because the Pirates selected him 14th overall in 2013 before trading him to the Toronto Blue Jays a few years later. McGuire has spent parts of the past four seasons in Toronto, and his left-handed bat could be a nice complement to Perez.

McGuire’s career slash line reads .248/.297/.390 and he’s been a solid defender with four career DRS behind the plate. Last season, McGuire finished 10th in the league in pitch framing.

Jonah Heim/Jose Trevino, Texas Rangers

The Rangers just traded for Mitch Garver over the weekend making one of Heim or Trevino expendable. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Texas is receiving interest in both players. Heim and Trevino were both tied for second in the Major Leagues in pitch framing.

In addition to great pitch framing numbers, Heim was responsible for six DRS at catcher, living up to his reputation as a solid defender. He hit just .196, but did blast 10 home runs in 82 games with the Rangers in 2021.

As good as Heim was behind the dish, Trevino may have even been better with eight DRS in 88 games. Trevino is also a light hitter, with a career slash of .245/.270/.364 in parts of four Major League seasons. Ben Cherington has largely valued defensive abilities since taking over for the Pirates, which could put the duo squarely in the mix.

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