Over the off-season, the Pittsburgh Pirates saw Russell Martin sign with the Toronto Blue Jays. Before that happened, they traded Justin Wilson to the New York Yankees, getting Francisco Cervelli back in return. By the looks of things, Cervelli will be the starting catcher for the Pirates during the 2015 season.
There are definitely things that make Cervelli an interesting catching option. Over the last two years he had a .293/.372/.449 line, although that came in a small sample size of 223 plate appearances. He has also been one of the best rated pitch framers in the game, and has strong defensive skills. The most notable thing after his addition was this comment by Brandon McCarthy.
@DCameronFG then they're doing a hell of a job of it. Cervelli is a stud
— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) November 13, 2014
The biggest issue for Cervelli has been his history with injuries. Even if you dream that the offense the last two years is legit, and the defense will make him a strong two-way catcher, there is the risk that he won’t be able to play a full season. Then again, looking at the catching market, you’re not getting a strong two-way catcher for Justin Wilson. The Pirates either need to pay a lot for that type of catcher (SEE: Russell Martin’s contract with Toronto), or they need to take a risk on a guy like Cervelli who has some question marks, but also some signs that we could point to a year from now as evidence that he was just about to break out.
Today’s video feature talks with Cervelli about his defense, his improved offense the last two years, his injury problems, and how he is getting to know the pitchers in the Pirates’ organization. Clint Hurdle also discusses that subject, and I asked both about the McCarthy tweet. The video also has Cervelli taking batting practice, and making some strong contact, plus some video of him and Chris Stewart in the bullpen. Cervelli was a great interview with a lot of really honest and candid answers about the above topics.