On Monday, the Pirates traded Jacob Stallings to the Miami Marlins leaving the Bucs with zero catchers on their 40-man roster. According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Pirates have found their backstop after reportedly agreeing to a one-year deal with Roberto Perez. The agreement is for $5M, per Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
Perez had spent his entire eight-year big league career with Cleveland. Regarded as a glove-first catcher, Perez won back-to-back Gold Glove Awards in 2019 and 2020. Perez has been responsible for 76 defensive runs saved behind the plate in his career, and has thrown out 39% of attempted base stealers.
The glovework took a bit of a step back in 2021, though injuries limited Perez to just 44 games. For the first time in his career rated slightly below average with -1 DRS and a pitch framing score of -0.6.
Offensively for his career, Perez has a slash line of .206/.297/.360 (76 wRC+). His best year came in 2019 when he posted a .774 OPS (102wRC+) and 24 home runs in 119 games. The last two years as Perez has battled injuries to his shoulder and finger, it’s been a struggle at the plate. In 76 games dating back to the start of 2019, Perez has managed only a .155 batting average and a .530 OPS. For a catcher, Perez does offer some decent pop with a career ISO of .154.
The Pirates are hoping Perez, who turns 33 next month, can regain the form that he showed on both sides of the ball in 2019, the last time he was healthy and served as a primary catcher. With no backup currently on the roster, the Bucs will still be on the hunt for another backstop this offseason.
It’s the third free agent deal for the Pirates who also have signed Jose Quintana and re-signed Yoshi Tsutsugo. The $5M commitment eclipses Tsutsugo’s $4M salary as the largest free agent contract handed out by Ben Cherignton during his Pirates’ tenure.
No corresponding move will be needed as the Bucs have an open spot on their 40-man roster after releasing Cody Ponce Monday night.