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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Pirates Acquire Francisco Cervelli From Yankees In Exchange For Justin Wilson

The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired catcher Francisco Cervelli from the New York Yankees in exchange for left-handed pitcher Justin Wilson.

Cervelli has played parts of seven seasons for the Yankees, although he doesn’t hit free agency until after the 2016 season. He played 49 games this year, hitting .301/.370/.432 in 146 at-bats. He has been at least league average on defense(dWAR) each year during his career and has thrown out 22% of base runners in 236 games behind the plate. His playing time was limited in 2014 due to a severely strained hamstring that landed him on the 60-day DL. In 2013, he missed time with a fractured right hand that also landed him on the 60-day DL. He was also suspended 50 games last year by Major League Baseball after being linked to Biogenesis.

Wilson pitched 70 games for the Pirates this year out of the bullpen, posting a 4.20 ERA, with 30 walks and 61 strikeouts in 60 innings. He pitched much better during the 2013 season when he posted a 2.08 ERA in 73.2 innings as a rookie.

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John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.


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John Lease

I guess the Chris Stewart era has come to an end.


Nice to get Cervelli but I would still be looking for someone even better than him in a deal so then you have Cerveli as your #2 . Right now I love the move and he is a solid all around catcher with some leadership skills. Really good move to jump out and sure up the position early. Now at worst you have the Stewart/Cervelli platoon with Diaz at AAA and Tony Sanchez as at least a strong hitter for an emergency #4 . I like that for now but hope there’s a chance to add one more. Can Geovany Soto be gotten for cheap? He would be a nice guy to throw into the mix.


No, this is the BIG deal. Wilson is 4 years of good lefty relief with a lot of upside. Bucs don’t give him up unless they feel Cervelli will be an above average starter for the next two years. I’m not saying he will be successful but NH & Co think he will be or they don’t do this deal this early. I also thought they would go for Soto but this is clearly their first choice not named Martin.

Lukas Sutton

By upside, you mean quality middle reliever. He isnt a SP and doesnt have the secondary pitch to be a back end relief man. He is a LHP and throws hard, those are his positives. His negatives include periodic inability to throw strikes and having no plus secondary pitch. I think Wilson can be a decent middle relief pitcher and has good years left, but he is vastly overrated by some fans. Limited upside and really not a great LHP option since he doesnt get LHH out any more than RHH.

Jay Hart

All I can figure is Huntington must really hate Tony Sanchez as a C. Otherwise, I don’t see the reason for this trade. Yeah, Justin had some troubles from late July on, and was an odd-ball being a lefty getting lit up by lefty hitters… but he was lights-out the season before and early this past season. Control-wise, I’m not sure LaFramboise is any better.

I think defensively, as far as pitch framing, he’s an upgrade over Sanchez. Offensively, I’m not sure Sanchez is not better with at least a little more power.

I’m not jumping up-and-down mad at this trade, but am not crazy about it either. I just don’t see where it makes the team significantly better subtracting a hard-throwing lefty with upside out of the bullpen for a guy who is just a bit better than guys we have at catcher.


Martin, Stewart now Cervelli. Are the Yankees always always going to be the farm system for Prates catchers?


This is just a great comment flipping the script we have heard so many times. I guess we should anticipate JR Murphy and Gary Sanchez in Pittsburgh someday.


It’s John Ryan Murphy, not JR, and he will come to your house and beat you up if you use JR again. You have two years before the Bucs need to go to the Yankee catcher well again, so you can practice typing out the full name 🙂

R Edwards

Not crazy about this trade for a few reasons:

(1) Wilson had a terrible year in 2014, but he was outstanding prior to last year – and given his stuff and age, I suspect that he will return to his prior form. So, we now have traded away two very talented relievers (Morris and Wilson) when they had temporary lower values.

(2) This trade doesn’t give me confidence that Martin is re-signing with Pirates. If there was a good chance of that happening, Pirates don’t make this trade.

(3) I sure hope this doesn’t mean we have Stewart/Cervelli as our catchers in 2015.

(4) Cervelli is a cheater – wasn’t he one of the BioGen guys?


Yes he is a cheater. This move disappoints me for that reason most of all.

Daryl Restly

If Neal H. is saying that Pedro is our 2015 1B, I take that to mean that I. Davis is out. Where does all of this leave Tony Sanchez and Gabby Sanchez? Personally I think, going into 2015 the 1B platoon is going to be Tony Sanchez and Pedro Alvarez with both I. Davis and G. Sanchez out the door. I know they tried T. Sanchez at 1B at Indianapolis before their season ended, so I expect him as well as Pedro to be early shows in Bradenton come February, 2015. I’m sure both I. Davis and G. Sanchez have some trade value in acquiring pitching depth (either starters or bullpen). As anyone who followed the Pirates the last two seasons, it doesn’t hurt to have a lot of pitching depth.


If Neal is committed to Pedro as a full-time (not platoon) 1b, I expect Cervelli to see some time at 1b against “tough” LHP. He had a handful of games at 1b last year. I don’t see a “dedicated” RHP 1b platoon partner a la Gaby. Probably more a utility player in that role.


Cervelli has a career slash line of .278/.348/.381.729. That slugging percentage isn’t much but he gets on base at a decent clip and is said to have solid defense. NH could’ve done a whole lot worse. Now let’s go get a 1B and some pitching. I still hold out hope that one of these years the Bucs pull out a surprise signing of someone we thought was out of their price range.


I don’t mind the addition but I wish we didn’t give up Wilson. Still so much talent there but I understand what they are doing. Cervelli and Stewart should bridge the gap to Diaz. I might be a short bridge as Diaz may be ready by mid season. This tells us Tony Sanchez is definitely not part of the future at catcher. He just isn’t good enough defensively.
I would hope the money that would have gone to Martin now gets spent on pitching!


Did anyone hear about boston asking about Pedro.. nh said pedro is our 2015 1b


Not terrible numbers. Not Martin for sure but not terrible defensive metrics or offensive potential. However, my concern is 1) the problem throwing out runners and 2) he has a long injury history for a guy who isn’t all that much younger than Martin (28 vs. 31).

This is a move that if you pair it with Stewart you could get OK production from the catching position.

The loss (realistic) of Martin wasn’t going to be easy to swallow and impossible to replace at the C position. However, I am hoping that with the extra money that should be available now we can improve our starting pitching (Frankie can come back and McCarthy can come aboard too and still should have some payroll room), fortify our bullpen and bench.

My wish list is now:
(2) bullpen arms


Martin was close to league average while with the Yankees for what it is worth. Staffs change and Cervelli had small samples but I think he is pretty close to average at throwing guys out. Everything else he does excluding power is above average so he is a 5.0-5.5 catcher. A great guy to give 150-200 AB’s to. I think he may get exposed if he has to play 100 games but it is great that they added him.


Jared I like your wish list. Mine is similar and another on mine is Brett Anderson. If he could ever stay healthy he could be an ace. Because of injury he will be fairly cheap.


Remember Martin was not highly thought of when he came from the Yanks. Maybe a repeat performance??

Lukas Sutton

Martin did have the advantage of being pretty healthy during his time with NY, whereas Francisco has concussion history and an odd habit of finding odd ways to see the DL. Could change, but the concussion issue is something to be aware of.


Well maybe this means some silly team is def giving Russell his 5 yr approx 80 million deal. More power to them If the Bucs could have had him for 3 years with a 4th year option for 15-16/year would have been great but personally would not want to chance 30 million or so on a catcher on his 36 and 37 year old seasons. Had some trouble staying healthy this year and legs will continue to fail. Nature of the beast for catchers.


Agreed! I love Martin but he is going to be way over payed!


I wish we would have traded Wilson last year. He had a lot more value.


It does make one wonder what was offered


I heard Texas offered Moreland for Wilson last off season. I wouldn’t have done that trade at that time either. I am still high on Wilson’s talent but he looks to be a career middle reliever.


Brandon McCarthy referred to him as a stud and said “he’s someone that could really benefit from you guys coming up with a game calling metric.”

So, there’s that.


Wonder if McCarthy may want to follow this catcher to Pittsburgh?? Things that make you go hmmmmm……..


Yeah, I won’t be upset about letting Martin go if they take that cash and get 2 S. Something like Liriano/BMac would be just fine.

Bill Tull

Looking at the defensive catcher numbers, certainly could be a poor man’s Russell Martin without the offense.


I feel like he is kind of a poor man’s Martin without the spectacular defense. Cervelli has hit really well. He doesn’t have Martin’s power but he may have better on base skills. I think if Martin goes back to hitting closer or lower than his career averages, which he probably will, Cervelli is not too much of a drop offensively. Martin’s defensive skills will be sorely missed though.


Martin had around a .700 OPS in 5 seasons prior to 2014…and his OPS was .703 in 2013. I love the idea of paying 15 mil a year for Martin next year and 2016. But 3,4,5 years down the road when he is 34,35,36 I am happy the Pirates probably won’t panic and tie their hands for years into the future.

Lukas Sutton

Actually, his offense is likely the best on the current roster of the Pirates when healthy. He certainly has more offense than Stewart to this point in his career. His issue is he hasnt been able to stay healthy and he is below average at controlling the baserunners. Good blocker, good pitch framer, average offense. Could be worse, though some certainly will say its a low return for Wilson. Personally, i dont understand why some see Wilson with great value. Throws hard but never had been able to locate it.


Stewart had his peak season last year on offense…and it still wasn’t that impressive. I would be ecstatic with .260 from him in 2015…that’s why I’d like to see them get one more experienced guy to come in and compete. I’m pretty sure they will.

Lukas Sutton

No one was talking about Stewart’s offense, talking about Cervelli.


I think this all fits together. In an article about Cervelli, other Pirates’ catchers are bound to enter the discussion.


Could he need glasses?? Throw em the heater Ricky !!


Sooooo do the Yankees really really like pitch framers or really really hate them?


Very interesting!!

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