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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Pirates Announce Three-Year Extension for Francisco Cervelli

The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Tuesday afternoon that they have agreed to a three-year extension with catcher Francisco Cervelli, which will run through the 2019 season. Financial details of the deal have not been announced. More on this shortly.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the total value of the deal is $31M.

Pirates GM Neal Huntington had this to say about the deal:

“We are very pleased to be able to reach a joint commitment with a quality player and person like Francisco Cervelli,” said Huntington. “We look forward to Francisco’s abilities, passion and energy making us better through at least the 2019 season.”

UPDATE: Stephen Nesbitt has a breakdown of the contract, confirming the total from Passan.

Cervelli was set to become a free agent after the season, and unless he finished the year out poorly, he would have made a good deal more than he got signing this extension. For him though, it’s now guaranteed financial security and a large raise over the $3.5M he is getting this season. Many players who sign extensions mention the financial security as the reason they sign lesser deals, noting that it’s still a ton of money and they no longer have to worry about it, and can just go out there and play.

From the Pirates side, they have now locked up many of their players through the 2019 season, either through extensions or from the fact they won’t reach free agency before then. When you add in the prospects who are on the way, it gives the Pirates a strong core for the near future. It also gives the Pirates more cost certainty, allowing them to do more with the payroll in the future.

UPDATE: Analysis from Tim Williams…

As John noted above, the Pirates are set with their current lineup for the next few years. They’ve got the following guys under control through the following years:

C – Francisco Cervelli (2019)

1B – John Jaso (2017)

2B – Josh Harrison (2020)

SS – Jordy Mercer (2018)

3B – Jung-ho Kang (2019)

LF – Starling Marte (2021)

CF – Andrew McCutchen (2018)

RF – Gregory Polanco (2023)

Jaso is the only player who isn’t under control beyond 2017, but the Pirates have Josh Bell in Triple-A. Jordy Mercer is under control through 2018, but that gives plenty of time for Kevin Newman to arrive. Then there’s the Andrew McCutchen/Austin Meadows situation, which we’ll ignore for now.

Cervelli has been a huge addition for the Pirates, and a great replacement for Russell Martin. Since the start of last year, Cervelli has out-performed Martin, hitting for a .291/.373/.384 line in 650 plate appearances, while Martin has posted a .226/.312/.404 line in 622 plate appearances during that same time. This has led to a 4.5 fWAR from Cervelli, and a 2.8 fWAR from Martin, and this doesn’t even factor in their framing values, where Cervelli has edged out Martin.

The biggest risk in this deal would be Cervelli’s health. That was a risk when the Pirates first acquired him, although they’ve done a good job keeping him healthy, and did the same with Martin for two years. Still, he’s 30 years old, and we’re talking about an extension that covers his age 31-33 seasons, so health isn’t a guarantee going forward.

You’d also have to wonder how long his current offensive profile will hold up. His success the last two years has been fueled by hitting for average and a high BABIP. His career BABIP is .341, and he’s at .344 this year. He’s also been above the career numbers in each of the last three seasons, which helps fuel the career totals.

A big reason for the high BABIP numbers is a focus on hitting line drives and grounders, which have the highest BABIP, rather than focusing on fly balls, which have the lowest BABIP. Cervelli’s fly ball rate was in the 33% range from 2009-2011. It jumped to 41.9% in 2013. Since then, it has dropped each year, to 30.5% in 2014, 26.9% in 2015, and 20.4% this year. But you have to wonder how long he can continue this, especially with the ability to hit line drives and grounders with solid enough contact to continue hitting for a high average.

The good news is that Cervelli doesn’t need to perform as well as he has been performing the last few years. His contract averages $10 M per year, which is about 1.5 WAR or less on the open market. His defense alone could cover most of that value, even without any offensive contributions.

I’ll have more on Cervelli tonight in First Pitch.

+ posts

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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Joshuatree

Congrats to Francisco Cervelli! You earned it pal! Keep it up!

st1300b

I remember though Kendall making $10 mil a year and profiling similarly to Cervelli and it being seen as an albatross contract. Just sayin.

Joshuatree

Only problem w that assertion is that money was different 16-17 years ago. We are talking inflation here!! That 6 year 60 million contract Kendall recieved is close to 6 figures today!! You don’t seem to realize the discount the Pirates received w this deal and it’s for just 3 years!! No comparison!

BuccosFanStuckinMD

I am a bit surprised by the Cervelli extension – it seemed like everyone was assuming he would play this year and walk….the terms seem to be very favorable for the Pirates, considering its not much more than what Niese is stealing from the Pirates.
So, kudos to the FO for getting this right and re-signing Cervelli for 3 years. I had my doubts about him when we signed him, but he has proven me to be very wrong – he’s hit way above what anyone could have expected, he has good leadership qualities. The only weakness – his throwing isn’t the best.

Blaine Huff

Watching the game…dear lord is this embarrassing. To go from 9-0 on the Braves to 11-9? Ugh.

BuccosFanStuckinMD

That’s on Neil – he assembled this staff and isn’t doing anything to address it…

Y2JGQ2

This spells the beginning of trade talks for Diaz once healthy. He could definitely be used to pick up a very usable piece for a late season run and maybe more than a rental. Decent value for Cervelli- I have no issues with this signing.

Dale O

I wish that I could “vote up” an article… This is great news!

GO BUCS.

wvpirate

Think that you are seeing a great trend of players signing contracts at a lower price than they would have if they went through free agency. And they do it because they enjoy playing for the Pirates. It started with McCutcheon then Marte, Polanco, Harrison and Cervelli. And we the fans appreciate it and enjoy watching you play.

Biagio

Yes I agree. Most see that the money is beyond crazy why not sign somewhere you like.

Blaine Huff

It started with Tabata….how dare you forget Tabata!

Biagio

Tabata and Snell when they signed we all drank the Kool Aide.

Bill W

Francisco got hit in the jewels last night and laid on the ground pounded his stomach and got up with that look that I truly love. This guy is high energy and plays with emotion I love that. They have the money and it’s well worth it.

Chris M

Great deal at a great value!!

Bruce Humbert

I guess I am the only one on this site that thinks tying up 10% of payroll on a singles hitting catcher who has trouble throwing out runners might not be the best use of that money – but then again I am downer Debbie a lot…

Andrew

I think it is fine to have this opinion but the follow up is how can Diaz + $10 million in payroll, be used to get a better return than the Cervelli signing.

Biagio

Bruce we still love you but not as much to take you to the prom.

piraddict

Or, payroll is going up.

Blaine Huff

I don’t think you’re wrong. I would not have liked this deal if it was longer than three years or if it were for the rumored $39M.

3/31, I can live with. I expect Cervelli to be injured at some point during the contract…and I expect an offensive decline. However, the AAV is low enough that the Pirates should easily recoup the value of the contract in two seasons.

So, I’m not doing cartwheels over this deal, but I don’t think it’s a bad one.

Bruce Humbert

And to be clear I don’t think it is a bad deal – just not sure it is a smart one…
Teams like the Pirates need to use young players like Diaz playing for the minimum to provide them with resources to sign talent to get better.

Tim listed a lineup that they have locked in for several years – that may seem like a good thing – but that lineup will not be competitive versus the Cubs – it isn’t now and it won’t be anytime in the next 4 years.

piraddict

The offense will compete with the Cubs right now. The pitching is lacking, but better pitching is on the way. In 2018 the Pirates will be better than the Cubs.

Luke S

This seems like exactly the move PGH has to make, as i see it.

They do have to use young guys to great effect, and they do have to be wary of longterm deals for guys.

But they got a guy on a discount, who offers value in non offensive ways (thus a bit less flukey or prone to poor luck at times) and its 3 years or less. Im good with those type of moves, so long as its a position of need. And right now, Diaz’s health does make it a need for at least 1-2 years.

burghb

Agree with you Luke on the non-offensive value that a catcher can provide. If there was one position that I would pay for, it’s catcher because a great framing/game-planning catcher can add significant value to the pitching staff as well, giving you more bang for your buck than the market has adjusted for.

burghb

Also, it will be interesting to see if the market catches up in the next couple years in terms of going rates for framing/defensive value of catchers. This could look like an even bigger steal in a year or two.

NMR

If they end up robbing Peter to pay Paul, certainly a possibility, then I’ll agree.

But you gotta think about risk as well. Diaz plus an extra ten mil *could* end up more valuable, but there’s unquestionably more risk involved and avoiding risk costs money.

Biagio

Diaz doesn’t have any Italian bloodlines! So what gives Futon!

Blaine Huff

I agree with the first two paragraphs. It’s generally not wise for small market clubs to sign big contracts, but, instead, utilize the farm system they’ve built. Total agreement. Where we differ is that this is a cheap contract…sort of like AJ was a steep discount last season.

The Pirates can’t afford to pay market or near-market rates, but, when a good deal comes along…meh…why not?

Take Cutch…If he wants to sign an extension for 70% of the market rate, the Pirates should consider. If he wants market rate or something close to it? No. Package him for the best deal possible.

As for the last paragraph….I’m not worried about building a team to ‘compete with the Cubs’. I’d rather the Pirates build the best club possible with the resources they have…if Chicago’s better, so be it…if the Pirates are…yay!

Bruce Humbert

Well that is interesting – the path to a WS flag is through Chicago for the next four years,,
Jasso vs Rizzo – give me a break this is stupidly one sided
J-Hay vs Zobrist – I love J-hay – but Ben is better – sorry
Mercer vs Russel – again – this is so one sided it is silly
Kang vs Bryant – a push – the first one on the list
Marte vs Soler – clear win for the bBucs
Fowler vs Cutch – clear win for the Cubs
Polanco vs Hayward – a push right now – hope it swing to Polanco over time
Catcher – Cubs have a great prospect – Pirates have Cervelli – for now the Bucs have an edge…

Starter – Cubs kill the Bucs now – we shall see when the kids are up and installed.

Relievers – would have given this to the Bucs before the season – but not sure there is a huge difference now…

BallHeadWonder

Now do the same with each position and compare salaries!! The Cubs are suppose to win!!! In your words “Give Me A Break…this is stupidly one-sided!!” So chill…we are just at the quarter pole.

Blaine Huff

Not at all going to argue the Cibs aren’t the better stocked team. The Pirates may very well have to accept the WC for a year or two.

The Cubs are both well-run and well-financed. It’ll be almost impossible for the Pirates to field a demonstrably better team.

Let’s be honest…the Cubs gave Heyward and Zobrist more than the Pirates have ever spent in free agency…and still had more than enough left over to snag Lackey and Fowler.

In the face of that…the Pirates are pretty much left with fielding the best team possible, leaning on luck, and hoping Bryant hits Arrietta with a bat.

burghb

I agree with everything you said, and I do like the value of this deal at 3/31 if Cervelli can average ~2.0 WAR per season over the next three years.

One thing about analyzing the value of contracts and market values, though, is that small markets still have to think in terms of dollars, not just WAR/dollar. $10M is still 10% of the payroll of the Pirates, so even if they get their money’s worth out of Cervelli in terms of WAR, they may still feel the constraints of that contract. Another example, 70% of market for Cutch is a a good value (assuming he maintains his production), but that’s still $25M/yr for a 5.0 WAR player valued at $7M/WAR. Pirates can’t do it no matter how good of a value it is.

Blaine Huff

Well…I’ll admit…I pulled that 70% out of my ass 🙂

To clarify with actual dollars…if Cutch said: “Hey, I’ll sign a five year extension for $18M per. Yeah…biggest contract in Pirates history and the Pirates would have to listen. But if the AAV was…$25M? Nah.

I hear you that $10M is 10%…now…in a couple of years…meh, 7-8ish? and it’s more manageable. But, yeah, I agree…I am definitely sympathetic to small market teams not wrapping themselves up too tightly with one player; hence the reason I wouldn’t pay Cutch 90% of FMV.

But, sometimes, you’ve gotta roll the dice. Trust me on this…I didn’t post my initial reaction to this deal…I slapped my hand quite a bit before letting loose…before I really digested it, the first thing I wanted to post in response to this signing was:

http://gifrific.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Michael-scott-no-god-no.gif

burghb

Haha. I did that a bit as well. I like the deal in the end though, gotta go with the lower risk option, which at 10M is Cervelli over Diaz. Just a bit bummed for what it means for Diaz but we’ll see what happens. Also, maybe there are longer term health concerns with Diaz as well.

piraddict

Besides his high OBP from the catching position the most important plus is that the Pirtaes have secured veteran catching to break in three or four high ceiling rookie starting pitchers over the next few years.

dr dng

My comments:
1) Wow, who ever saw that one coming?
2) When was the last time they signed an extension in the middle of the season?

3) Does this mean Diaz’s injury is a little worse than we though or Cervelli is just playing that well?

4) Do folks not stop saying “Nutting is cheap?”

(By the way, nice folks and family here in Wheeling.)

Blaine Huff

1. Not me.
2. Not sure.
3. I don’t think so.
4. No, Nutting is cheap…the Orioles would’ve paid Cervelli much more for three seasons! 🙂

Mike

I’m surprised Diaz and Stewie are the only ones being mentioned when it comes to a potential move. IF Diaz gets back to full strength and starts killing AAA for the rest of the year, there is always the option of moving Cervelli too. I’m sure many teams would be interested in him at that number. That’s the best part of this deal, flexibility.

Mike

Of course then I read his essay in the players tribune and I never want him to leave. I’m so easy, one compliment to Pittsburgh or it’s fans and I’m in for life with you haha.

BallHeadWonder

Again I say….we continue to rag on NH’s ability to take care of this Organization!! He has done the absolute best with what he has been given! An Unbelieable Extension for us!! Allows Diaz to fall right in, in a couple of years!! So Congrats Neil Huntington of keeping us relavent in the coming years!! Keep up the great work!!

Bruce Humbert

Yep – awesome job – we have all of those pennants waving over PNC because of NH and his brilliance…

BallHeadWonder

Don’t understand that comment! But I will take as u are excited to be a Pirate Fan today!!

Kozy21

With this signing, I didn’t realize how emotionally tied we are to Diaz.

NMR

This is a prospect site, bro. 😉

Brian Z

All it took was a shot in the family jewels last night and Cervelli was like, “where do I sign?”

Biagio

Molto Bene amico mio Paisan!

candyfan

A second thought – The big plus here, among other obvious things, is that the Pirates now have two catchers who are excellent at plate framing and in general, working with pitchers to throw in the dirt, inside, etc. – all of the things the Pirates are doing to induce ground balls and more outs. That is truly good news!

Bruce Humbert

Problem is that pitch framing is not as important – valuable as it was 3 or 4 years ago – the ability to steal strikes is not as important – and will be less important in the future when we see computer called balls and strikes.

Luke S

Well, what I hope we meant to say here is that since other teams are also valuing framing, its tougher to find cheap value there.

Because framing is absolutely just as important now as it was 3 years ago.

Brian K. Rhodes

Knowing the catching is in good hands for 3 years is a tremendous asset. Yes Diaz and McGuire are on the way but you don’t know how they will turn out. This signing gives the Pirates many options including trades. McGuire can spend two years in the upper minors working on his offense. He can backup Cervelli in 2018 and 2019. Diaz or Stewart can be traded or they can battle it out for the backup job. The organization has come a long way since needing to pluck McHenry out of obscurity because the team didn’t have enough bodies to play catcher.

candyfan

The injury to Diaz and the still two years away from MLB ready Reese McGuire must have triggered this move by the Pirates. Otherwise, this move is a bit out of character for the Pirates, given that Cervelli is entering his middle years (30+) of possible downside productivity.

Matthew R

Guys like Molina and Martin have shown that the aging curve may be a little different for catchers, especially if you’re really intent on keeping them for their defense. It also probably helps that Cervelli doesn’t have the heaviest mileage.

WardHolder

Stunning! Totally agree this means there’s no real room for Diaz, unless you make him your #2 catcher. Wonder what it means about McGuire, who has been pushed aggressively.

burghb

Tim, no need to comment further, we already have it all figured out down here 🙂

Drock17

Good news! I would like to see them extend the other Francisco as well.

leefoo

I would like the other Francisco to start pitching like a #2 again before we even think about it.

Biagio

Foo you know I love this deal!

leefoo

Another nice thing is that we now have 3 years for McGuire’s hitting to come around (if it ever does).

I wonder how Diaz feels? This news has to suck for him?

PikeBishop65

I have said it before, my dream is for McGuire and Diaz to become the reincarnation of “LaSlaught” (“SlaValliere?”), a killer lefty-righty tandem behind the plate.

leefoo

Those were some glory years.

leefoo

On a rainy, dreary day in SC Pa, this definitely was a ray of sunshine!

PikeBishop65

What a great deal, solidifying a tricky position for the next few years. Cervelli for three and Chris Stewart is inked for this year and next, plus a team option in 18.

Diaz, hopefully recovers from his injury and picks up some MLB time here and there, and McGuire gets a full year and maybe two at AAA. I can see Diaz replacing Stewart in 18 and then he and McGuire will both be ready when Cervelli walks after(or is part of deadline deal to an AL club who could use a catcher/DH during) 2019!

Much better than giving 32 year old Russell Martin 70 million or so! Way to go TBMTIB

BigB2323

Diaz will be 26 next year with 1 option remaining I believe, hard to believe they would just keep sending him to AAA as depth, he easily could be a starter for someone this year. Just look at the braves they could use him. Every team is looking for Catchers and I think if his elbow is healthy he will have a ton of trade value by the deadline. With Stallings, McGuire, Gushue, even Jhang not counting this years draft. The Pirates have enough depth at C for now and in the future.

Blaine Huff

I don’t see Diaz having a ‘ton’ of trade value unless he starts smacking the ball silly…and, even then, he’s still not anywhere near an elite prospect.

If he’s healthy and hitting at AAA, he, alone, may be able to pull an average BP arm or a high A pitcher who projects as a #3 . If he is traded, more than likely, he’ll be lumped in a package. I could see Eppler/Diaz for a strong, but not elite, BP pitcher.

BigB2323

Or a Diaz, Hanson, Ramirez package for SP. The only needs the Pirates have are SP and RP at the current moment and even with injury it stays the same with that MLB bench of Freese, Joyce, even SRod who all can start if needed. Pirates focus should be a nice #3 SP. add in Glasnow, Taillon and Kuhl as 4,5 and 6 options with one in bullpen, have the makings of a nice team.

Blaine Huff

I see your point, but I’m not a ‘win now’ guy…I’m more of a compete now and maybe luck into winning it. A lot of the pieces are in place for the Pirates now, but probably not enough…

While this season’s pitching has been shaky outside of Cole, Liriano is going to be around for another 50 starts. If one of JTTG hits their ceiling and one of Kuhl/Brault/Williams hits theirs…that’s 4/5 of a rotation with the hopes that one of the guys who didn’t excel is still capable of starting. There’s a rotation. Maybe it’s not a fully function rotation until the beginning of 2017, but I can live with that. With as lame as the pitching has been with no help from the minors, the Pirates are still on pace to win 88. If the youngsters can contribute more than Locke/Nicasio/Niese have this season…you’re probably looking at a 92ish win team that makes the playoffs.

As far as the BP…I’m curious to see what’s what at this year’s deadline. With the overpays for Giles and Kimbrel, and the amount of money that was dumped into guys like Bastardo, Soria, and a project like Madson…that package you listed might bring 1.25-1.5 quality BP arms.

Kozy21

Baseball America called him the best defensive catcher in the minors. There’s a lot of value in that. Catcher is a defense first position.

Blaine Huff

Sure defense has value, but defense + hitting has more. You’re simply not going to get a big return on him if he’s defense-only catcher…

Heck, look at Cervelli…a good defensive catcher who actually had ~800 ML PAs and a career .729 OPS…he couldn’t return anything more than a Justin Wilson. Diaz will be bringing less of a resume.

Luke S

and then his arm got hurt and any team will question his arm until he proves he’s healthy and able to play.

Defense is his only plus value, and he’s now working with one healthy arm. Poof goes the value.

Bill Harvey

So what do you see his trade value being? Also, look at what needs we have to fill at the major league level. Our most pressing need is in the bullpen, so do you make a trade for a bullpen arm?

PikeBishop65

Great point, I can see the trade chip option as well. Maybe they release Stewart and Diaz backs up Cervelli in 18.

wvpirate

Excited to know Cervelli is locked up for 3 more years. Another great core player that will soon help lead the Pirates to the World Series

Mallorie D

Cole is the next guy…I doubt it happens, but maybe they start having some initial conversations.

Bill Harvey

Those talks started and ended the day Cole signed his current salary sheet. I highly doubt Boras would even pick up the phone, nor do I believe NH would waste his time calling.

Zachary Asman

Incorrect. Those talks ended the day Gerrit Cole signed with Scott Boras for representation.

Koloacat

If they has let Cervelli play out this season without extending him, it would have cost $16 million to make a qualifying offer for one year. So three years at a little more than $10 million per year seems like a relative bargain. Before Dias had his elbow injury I thought the Bucs should let Cervelli walk, but given the additional uncertainty about Dias now and the terms of the extension I am very happy

John Allen Habel III

I hope this helps end the Nutting is cheap narrative

bucsws2014

Signing Cervelli and Polanco gives cost certainty. Barring a significant injury to a regular who’s signed long term, the Bucs – even with all the contract extensions and Cole’s arb – could still come in right around $100 mill each of the next two years.

Andrew

Nutting was never cheap, Pittsburgh just is relatively small, not really growing and not that affluent relative to other markets.

Zachary Asman

There is only one signing that would shut those people up and it involves signing someone to a $100M+ contract.

Scott K

Don’t hold your breath on that one. Those sentiments run deep for some people.

Zachary F

Although I might be accused of “putting the rabbit IN the hat” here, I don’t think this signing does anything to prove that Nutting isn’t cheap. He was backed into a corner with the Diaz injury. We have absolutely no one in the org. that will be big league ready for years. Nutting’s hand was forced to pay a player a below market contract.

Paying a starting catcher $10m after having the second best WAR for his position over the last year+ is highway robbery. Despite what BoBo wants you to think, $10m/year for 3 years is a small contract by MLB standards (Cervelli’s Q/O would have been 16m). There are turd 5th OFs that make that much money.

On another note, I love the extension and was calling for it back in March.

Scott Kliesen

Sorry for the late response, but I couldn’t disagree more with your comment. Nutting never gets backed into a corner. The teams who get backed into a corner are the one’s who give outlandish contracts to players who then don’t live up to them for one reason or another (see Reds, Brewers, Braves, et al). Nutting has proven he’s willing to meet players in the middle, which in my book makes him smart, not cheap.

NMR

The fact that folks are peacocking over a $30m deal is fairly hilarious in itself.

Blaine Huff

Oh lord…I didn’t even read this exchange before I jokingly posted:

“Nutting is cheap…the Orioles would’ve paid Cervelli much more for three seasons! :)”

I meant it as a joke…I didn’t think anyone would actually take this position.

Luke S

We live in crazy times.

sammykhalifa

Wait, you’re concerned about the $30MM? I’m concerned that we got the guy we wanted.

Different priorities, I guess.

NMR

Oh look, a pitiful strawman. I’m shocked.

PikeBishop65

Hi, my name is Pike Bishop (“Hi Pike Bishop”) and I am a recovering “Nutting is cheap” addict. I last said Nutting was cheap 568 days ago. One day at a time.

leefoo

lol Pike

leefoo

I couldn’t agree more Scott.

Scott K

Knock me over with a feather. I thought for sure Cervelli was going to wait it out and go for the Russell Marting type deal at season’s end. Pleasantly surprised at this announcement.

deacs

Love it. Adds stability to a bit of an unknown position after this year without financially crippling the club. Now if Diaz or McGuire work out with have a nice problem on our hands and neither guy is rushed. They probably thought to themselves “OK, so we’re not picking up the 2017 and 2018 options on Niese, what should we do with that money?”

Scott K

I disagree about Niese. His situation is irrelevant to this signing, and it’s way, way, way, too early to be making that assumption.

turks44

really, niese will be in the pen or dfa by august.

Hank

Niese’s “stuff” stinks. With Taillon, Glasnow, and Kuhl waiting in AAA, there is little chance that Niese comes back next year. Too much money for too little return for the Pirates.

Scott Kliesen

I wouldn’t be so sure. Pirates love veteran LH SP.

Bill Harvey

Neise’s “stuff” is something I can’t comment on. The 2 things I know are that his walks are up, as are his HR’s. From that info I can draw a few deductions about what his problem’s are. If I were to venture a guess, it would be that he is very uncomfortable pitching inside, because he doesn’t want to hit the batter. So when he misses, he misses out over the plate, and those pitches have been getting tattoo’d.

deacs

I think his point was the fact that Niese isn’t coming back doesn’t mean they just decide to toss money elsewhere. I think all 3 of us can agree without some sort of epic 2nd half resurgence Niese is getting his 500K buyout only. Hey, they tried.

deacs

I was going to say this signing was to distract from the Cubs series but I thought that would be too much.

deacs

It was a joke.

Scott Kliesen

Sorry, thought you were serious.

deacs

That’s ok. Just trying to add a little levity.

Brian Bernard

Shuts nobody out, but Awesome!!!

Kozy21

I’m guessing Diaz is trade bait at this point now.

piraterican21

Its only 3 years, Diaz could take cervelli type of route, back up beginning sometime next year and take over after or back up Reece

Luke S

Not really. McGuire has all the tools but is plenty far away and with work to do, so you’ve got good upper level depth with Diaz. Stewart is a capable backup, but not essential.

But you move Diaz and you A) lose depth and B) lose the realistic best option for replacing Stewart in a year or so and being a solid backup C. Diaz still has a ton of value to PGH that isnt trade value.

Kozy21

Yeah but his best value is as trade bait now. McGuire is in AA and has a higher ceiling. Cervelli is signed through 2019 and Stewart through 2018. Catcher is thin for a lot of teams. If Diaz’s arm is okay, he should make an excellent trade chip for pitching come the deadline.

Luke S

Hit post too quick, sorry.

I dont agree his best value is trade. You absolutely need 3 catchers able to be fine, and 4 is better.

Having Stewart for this year and next is good, but you still need a capable option behind that that can do more than pretend to be more than a fringe ML backup.

I dont see why he has huge trade value coming off injury to his throwing arm, and if he is healthy he’s clearly as good or better than Stewart going into next year. I dont think he’d fetching a good SP, so id rather have him in AAA going into ST than half a season of a middle relief arm.

Blaine Huff

If Diaz is healthy…and that’s still a big if…I agree, let him play out the season at AAA. If he can swing an adequate bat, Stewart becomes redundant.

I get that the Pirates love him…but he’ll be a 35 year old catcher who doesn’t see much time. Is this the guy you really want as your #2 if Cervelli goes down for a month or two? Let Diaz have that role and see if he can build some value.

Y2JGQ2

well Diaz will be the one seeing no time if he takes stewarts place, and that isn’t real helpful either

Blaine Huff

150 PAs/year is better than sitting at AAA.

And Cervelli won’t stay healthy forever…not referencing his injury history…but there aren’t too many catchers that are going to start 130 games/year for too long before they get banged up…

Y2JGQ2

“150 PAs/year is better than sitting at AAA.” That’s not a fact Blaine, that’s an opinion.

Blaine Huff

What? Really?

You don’t think working daily with major league coaches, pitchers, and Cervelli…and hitting against arms that are of a higher quality will aid in his development more than being in the minors? Really?

Y2JGQ2

Over reps? No, I don’t. But even if I did, it would still be an opinion and I would present it as such. Hitting in 3-5 at bats once a week and then hitting BP and cage work the rest of the time doesn’t help develop anything.

Blaine Huff

You say all that like it’s a fact…when, really, it’s just your opinion.

Y2JGQ2

Didn’t I just say that smart ass?

Blaine Huff

Is there any part of my message where I said I was claiming to state facts?

Jesus, pull the stick out of your pedantic ass.

I listed my reasons:

1. He gest a 150 PAs.
2. It’s probably Cervelli will be injured at some point and that..shockingly…would increase Diaz’s PAs.

Here’s one I didn’t list…

Diaz was only at 350ish PAs in AAA in 2014…that was splitting time with dead man walking Tony Sanchez. At the pace he’s going, Jhang has a very good shot at making AAA next year…my guess is he’ll be leeching plenty of PAs from Diaz. If they split evenly, you’d be looking at getting, maybe 300ish each. Considering the increased quality of competition and the likelihood of a Cervelli injury…and that Diaz has already succeeded at AAA, keeping him there seems rather silly.

Y2JGQ2

now that we’ve got the grammar and inability to write properly issue cleared up, lets actually discuss the topic itself…… you are making a lot of assumptions. 1. Cervelli hasn’t been hurt since we’ve got him, in fact he’s been one of the most durable catchers in baseball during that period. YES he has been injured in the past, but assuming he is going to be on the DL for more than a random 15 day stint is really just a wistful guess. If then he would get maybe 11 of those 15 games….where he normally would have maybe gotten 3. This means 8 extra games of AB’s at the bottom third of the batting order, so probably about 3.5 PA’s or an extra WHOLE BIG 28 plate appearance, wow…..that would really be helpful. 150 PA’s (or 180 in this scenario) isn’t even enough for a normal veteran major league player to stay sharp, let alone for a rookie to be able to be able to play at his previous level in my opinion, and is a huge stretch to expect him to show any continued ability to develop. For a catcher whom previously has had 1) his own injury issues this year keeping him from starting 2) the issue of previously having to share time with Tony Sanchez and 3) just figured out how to hit less than 2 years ago EVEN FURTHER points towards the fact that his development is done if he comes up to be a backup and his value if he has any, is gone as far as a trade chip. Now, see how I didn’t present anything of my personal beliefs as facts, I said “points towards” – this is how adults debate a topic.

Blaine Huff

You keep trying…you keep failing…the effort is admirable…but that’s okay…it’s technically the morning…and I still respect you.

But, if it will make you happy…in the future I will no longer begin my posts by saying: “hey, this is a fact, bitches better listen up…”

Y2JGQ2

Your whole previous post was itself a statement which was given as a fact, not stated as a question. If you’d like, I could dig up a 3rd grade grammar/english teacher whom could confirm this for you.

Blaine Huff

So…opinions are only stated as questions? Okay…are you a fucking idiot?

Luke S

I think they paid him what they did to ensure they could release him if it made sense. They love to have him around, but didnt pay him enough to worry about booting him at the end of the year.

Either Diaz can show he is healthy and be the backup next year, or he isnt for sure 100% and you keep all 3.

Y2JGQ2

Stewart can always be traded, he’s a more than adequate backup for basically any team. An injury and his value gets higher (as does Diaz once he;s healthy

Blaine Huff

Yup. No disagreement with that.

davidp

This Diaz v Stewart debate sounds a lot like this classic debate

The truth is, Wyld Stallyns will never be a super band until we have Eddie Van Halen on guitar.

Ted:
Yes, Bill. But, I do not believe we will get Eddie Van Halen until we have a triumphant video.

Blaine Huff

Always give thumbs up for Bill and Ted…especially since a third installment is supposedly in the works…but not sure I’m following the logic.

If Diaz is healthy, he’s better depth than Stewart and the depth he provides is more valuable than his ‘prospect’ trade value.

If, when providing depth, he shows that he can hit adequately…his trade value exceeds his depth value.

So, I’m not opposed to trading Diaz…but I don’t think the right time to do it before his peak. Besides…with an elbow surgery under his belt, I doubt any team would surrender anything of value this season.

davidp

fair statement. Not saying this is a great analogy, it was more just to quote bill and ted, but

Both Bill and Ted agree that Eddie Van Halen and Wyld Stallyns would do great things together, but the path to Eddie van Halen is where they disagree.
Everyone agrees that Diaz is going to be a MLB catcher, but the path to this happening is where everyone disagrees.

Blaine Huff

Gotcha 🙂

Catching is one of those rare things for me. Good ones are hard to come by. If you’ve got a solid prospect…unless some team just blows you away…hold on to him. Hell, look at how bad the Yankees dropped the ball. They could have had Russell Martin for what the Pirates paid…but let him slip. Then they jettisoned Cervelli…now they’re stuck paying McCann 5/85. Heck, the Pirates will be on the hook for only 7/51 for the Yanks castoffs.

So, yeah, hold on to Diaz. If he does blossom as a Cervelli back-up, the right answer might not be Trade Diaz, but, instead, Trade Cervelli. There are plenty of teams who might be wildly ready to open up their wallets for him at the end of ’17 for a 2/21 deal.

Kozy21

He’s almost 26 and MLB ready when healthy. He’s not gonna want to be a depth piece. Not to mention, the Bucs love Stewart as a solid backup and mentor. He’s not going anywhere. Diaz is an excellent defensive prospect at a defense first position. He’s one of the 5-10 best catching prospects in baseball. He has a lot of trade value.

Luke S

No offense to him, but i dont care what he wants. The Bucs love Stewart so much they gave him enough to stick around but enough to let go when needed.

And the entire point is to keep all 3, which they have done. They can have Diaz in AAA, the other two at MLB, and let Diaz get healthy and then be a backup for at least a year.

He’s not a top 100 prospect, and he’s not healthy. Tell me again how a guy with mostly defensive value+an arm injury has trade value.

Right now, he has crap trade value. He’s considered an elite defensive catcher and just had surgery on his throwing arm.

Y2JGQ2

we are talking about trade deadline value, not today value luke

Luke S

And come the trade deadline, nothing will have changed.

He’s out until early July, and he wont likely be thrown into live games for a week or two after that. You are rolling into the deadline with him having little to no live game reps against quality competition and no team is going to operate with his value where it should be.

Hell, PGH shouldnt if they were trading for a guy like him. He has to prove the arm can hold up over more than 1-2 weeks of playing (like he tried to do early this year) and wont have time to do it to be traded this season.

Y2JGQ2

I disagree. If he is back in games and scouted to see his arm is no different from before, that’s all a team needs to see from him realistically. That’s hardly “nothing” being able to throw well and pain free vs. right now where he can’t throw at all and there is no guarantee that the surgery fixed the issue is a big damn difference man

Luke S

He was throwing “pain free” for about a week before he felt pain again and went under the knife.

It’ll take more than 1-2 weeks or just simply throwing a ball to have teams assume he’s fine. Its surgery on the throwing arm, this isnt an easy fix from a value standpoint. He absolutely wont have good value until mid or late August at best. He’s gotta prove he can play and play pain free more than 1 week.

There is a big difference between a healthy Diaz and a Diaz coming off surgery on his throwing arm. Because most of his value is defense, and now teams dont know if the arm can hold up more than 1-2 weeks at a time before the pain comes back.

Y2JGQ2

As far as this surgery goes, it’s as minor as can be- it either worked or it didn’t. My opinion is that it won’t take that long in rehab and a few games to figure out which one it is.

Luke S

But the nature of pre injury clearly means you wont actually know for a few weeks.

Because the timeline was: Diaz stops throwing, feels pain
Diaz then starts throwing and reports no pain for roughly 1 week
Diaz then feels pain come back and officially is done and has surgery

So no team will sit and go “he’s thrown for 2-3 days with no pain, he’s good”. It’ll take at least a full week, or more, of throwing to erase doubts. And he doesnt have even that timeline if we use him in this deadline.

My problem is that no team is going to only wait 3-5 days, or maybe even 10, before giving him full defensive value and without teams giving him proper value PGH has 0 incentive to move him for partial value.

Y2JGQ2

My point is that him throwing in rehab for about a month will be enough time to tell, he doesn’t have to wait 3 weeks back into playing real games

Luke S

But he doesnt have a month, he will be ready to throw about a week into July. He’ll have at best 3 weeks, and that means his best case is a team feeling 2 weeks is enough to prove he’s fine and offer full value.

If that isnt enough, it makes 0 sense to even consider moving him at his lowest point in 2 years.

Y2JGQ2

Yeah, I guess I see your point on how quickly the trading deadline comes….. I don’t really want to trade him, but he is going to be traded, either this year or next. He is too valuable of a piece to let rot in AAA (if healthy) if not healthy, he’s just going to retire anyways, a catcher with a bad arm is useless

BigB2323

The Rangers wanted Diaz in the Moreland rumored trade this off season and the Pirates wouldn’t give him up then. I think he has some trade value.

Luke S

And again, after that time all that Diaz has done is:
Not play because of a throwing arm injury.

We wanna throw down money on how big a value fall it is for a defense first guy who has surgery on his throwing arm?

His value wont rebound until he plays and is fine for a few months afterward.

Kozy21

He’ll miss 2 months. He may not have trade value while he’s recovering from elbow surgery but he should recover.

http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2016?list=c

MLB.com’s scouting report on Diaz:

It has been far from a direct path for Diaz, who was signed out of Venezuela back in 2008 with the hopes he could be an everyday catcher. When he didn’t hit over his first few years of pro ball, he started splitting playing time and the Pirates were even asked about putting him on the mound. The bat has come so far that some consider Diaz the future starter in Pittsburgh. His 2016 was delayed by an elbow injury that required a scope and cleanup in May, keeping him out until midseason.

The ingredients for Diaz to be a plus defensive catcher have always been there. He has great hands and receives well. Maturity has helped Diaz develop his game-calling skills and dealing with pitchers. He has a plus arm, though he does like to show it off a bit too much and the Bucs have worked with him at quickening his release. Diaz has finally slowed himself down offensively and largely doesn’t try to do too much, making consistent hard contact with some extra-base ability.

The Pirates received a lot of calls from other teams asking about Diaz in trade talks, a sign of how his value has increased. He may start his big league career as a backup, but he has the chance to be a regular in the future.

Scott Kliesen

He may not want to be ML depth, but it’s not as if he can dictate what Pirates do. He’s on 40-man roster. If he wants to be on big league team, he needs to get healthy, stay healthy, and play better.

Luke S

I still dont agree.

burghb

I’m wondering if they should wait a year or two to consider any trade. I would hedge the bet that Cervelli can stay healthy for the first half of his contract. No hurry to get McGuire to AAA, Diaz can rehab and prove he is fully healthy and then if Cervelli has a healthy 2016 and 2017 look to move Diaz next deadline or 2018 offseason. Or, maybe they are willing to let Diaz be MLB backup at that point, but I think as a projected future starter he’s better off playing everyday.

Bill Harvey

Not sure of what Diaz value would be if he was 100%. Of course, if he was 100%, this is not even a discussion. Diaz was not a top 100 prospect and as such, his real value is that he is a catcher that “is” close to major league ready, with 6 years of control. My guess, if he were healthy, he could probably return a decent reliever on an expiring contract. However, it would all come down to how desperate the other team was. Even with the Cervelli extension, it is highly likely that Diaz has more value as depth for the Pirates than he does as a trade chip.

Y2JGQ2

Extremely undervaluing Diaz here Bill.

Scott K

And what exactly do you think Diaz’s trade value is that’s better than the quality depth he can provide Pirates organization?

Kozy21

Well, within the next year, McGuire is going to be at AAA. De Jhang is also right there too. You can’t have both Diaz and McGuire sharing time at AAA. Eventually, you’re going to need to cut bait with one and with McGuire needing more time, it makes sense for Diaz to get moved eventually.

Blaine Huff

I wouldn’t automatically assume Reese will be at AAA this time next year…he may, because it seems the team is intent on pushing him no matter how often he proves his bat is not ready.

But, with Cervelli locked in, I think it’s going to be McGuire’s bat that gets him to the next level. Maybe he figures it out in the next season…probably not.

Jhang? He’s put up .700 OPS in 3/4 seasons and looks to be ready to do it again this year. Wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him in AAA at the start of 2018.

Hank

If both those guys are future major league starters in the Pirates minds, Stewart will be the one to go. He is purely a backup catcher…..

Kozy21

A very valuable backup catcher signed through 2018. I don’t think Stewart is going anywhere.

Hank

Not nearly as valuable as a young future starter like Diaz. You can’t trade your best catchers.

BigB2323

Yeah you can, especially when you have someone younger and just as good defensively with a higher pedigree in AA below him. Diaz and Hanson will have the most trade value for Pirates at deadline, bc they are MLB ready players and on a lot of other teams they would be starters already like the Braves.

burghb

Yeh but if he is a future starter, then he might have more value in a trade than on the bench in Pittsburgh.

Bill Harvey

McGuire can stay at AA, he hasn’t developed the hit tool to a point where a promotion is required. There are worse things than repeating AA as a 22 year old.

Y2JGQ2

agreed, but that still has him at AAA for the second year and has diaz at year 3 in AAA- he will need to be dealt to have any value, or you deal Stewart and make him the backup

Blaine Huff

Absolutely agree…a .659 OPS doesn’t get you to the next level.

Kozy21

I don’t disagree with that. I do know that this offseason the Rangers wanted Diaz for Mitch Moreland and GMNH balked at it. I think with Cervelli locked up long term, if the Bucs have a need (pitching) and the team they are calling needs catching (likely) then Diaz should be dangled.

leefoo

It depends on the return, Kozy. That’s a big if to get (good) pitching for Diaz.

And Mitch Moreland is far from being equal to a good SP or RP.

Y2JGQ2

Again Foo- a highly regarding catching prospect with a canon arm that can hit at an average rate is pretty damn valuable on the open market

Kozy21

Which is why GMNH didn’t make that trade. Maybe the Bucs can dangled Diaz and Ramirez plus an additional piece for Tyson Ross…

leefoo

Gosh, I sooooooooooooooooooooo love these trade speculations.

Make it so, NH (as Picard was wont to say).

I certainly wouldn’t trade Ross for an injured catcher and a singles hitting corner OFer. That has to be a pretty good additional piece if I am SD.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Y2JGQ2

you are severely underestimating Harold here foo- I think you throw in Hanson. That’s 3 prospects better than the top 5 in most organizations

Kozy21

Well, I’m not talking today and Ramirez is a fringe top 100 prospect that lots of people are very high on. Diaz also doesn’t need TJ and shouldn’t be out for too long. He is also considered one of the 5-10 best catching prospects in baseball. Depending on your perspective, those are 2 very valuable pieces.

Patrick Kelly

Or his arm issues are more than they let on.

bucsws2014

Needing your elbow bones shaved is never a good thing. This is a nice case of a bird in the hand being worth more than two in the bush. I really like this deal. And I don’t think Cervelli has a Russell Martin collapse in him – at least not within the next three years.

sammykhalifa

“Needing your elbow bones shaved is never a good thing.”

If nothing else, it certainly doesn’t sound like too much fun.

Kozy21

Cervelli doesn’t have the mileage Martin did.

Blaine Huff

When you spend the majority of your career injured, it’s hard to accumulate mileage.

deacs

And I really think this is the reason he signed. After battling constantly with injuries he probably saw this as the light at the end of the tunnel. I love speculating what players think before they actually comment by the way.

Luke S

Thats just amazing value. Cant believe he inked for only 31, good for him and the team.

deacs

I was surprised. I think this represents a pretty decent discount but you have to think Cervelli not being a full time starter for more than 1 year and being able to cash in, he took it. I think he likes the team.

Mallorie D

he said over the winter, he wanted to stay long term. I think he does like being with the Pirates and obviously he stuck with his word on this one.

Kozy21

It also helps when you’re a fan favorite in a city as passionate about sports as the Burgh is.

deacs

I think so. I think people have different definitions of “cashing in” so to speak. He could’ve gotten more if he stayed healthy and waited until the offseason but if you can lock in 3 for 31, bottom line I’m sure he’s happy with the guaranteed money.

Arrowreb

Best news I’ve heard from PBC all year! And $31 million over 3 years (through 2019).

Bill Harvey

The Polanco extension was better news. Not to minimize this deal, I love this one also, just the Polanco one was better.

Mallorie D

Yes, but they have I would say probably better outfield prospects than they do catching prospects. I’m not sold on Diaz or McGuire yet…defensively, yes solid, but having a catcher who can give good at bats and can hit is one aspect that has made the Pirates into a contender. Martin and Cervelli are/were very solid at the plate. Im not sure either of our catching prospects look like very solid hitters yet.

Bill Harvey

McGuire has nearly twice as many walks as K’s, so it’s not that he is overmatched, just needs to make more solid contact. I do not believe he is close to ready with the bat, but he has a great eye, and puts the bat on the ball.

capirate

Wow, didn’t expect that. Glad to see it though it does appear to shut out Elias Diaz.

Mallorie D

Diaz if he can get back to where he was might turn into a trade chip at the deadline I suspect.

bucs1971

No, quite the contrary. This deal buys the Pirates a certain amount of security, until if/when Diaz recuperates fully, assuming he will. At that point, if he develops as has been suggested, then perhaps you trade Cervelli. Who knows, the NL could adopt the D.H. over the next few years. If so, then that becomes another option. You also have McGuire at AA. Granted, he has struggled some offensively, but it is way too early to reach any conclusions on his prospect status at this point. This is a good signing for all parties concerned. If Cervelli had left via free agency at the end of this year, the Bucs would have to have gotten a replacement until Diaz is really ready to step in. This deal makes good sense.

Y2JGQ2

Cervelli won’t have a “ton” of value because of his contract. Diaz will have more trade value, thus pointless to trade the lesser of the two in terms of value and the more important to the current team.

Mallorie D

His batting line at AAA last year while okay, was definitely not overwhelming for a 25 y/o. .271/.330/382/.711

If he recuperates well and maybe with another year in AAA, those numbers could be a bit better. But, I think its far from a sure thing that Diaz could step in next year and there wouldn’t have been a let down in production from the catching spot in the lineup.

If Diaz had batting lines close to that of maybe Wilson Contreras (Cubs’ top catching prospect) then okay, I’d feel fine letting Cervelli walk at years end. But he doesnt. So, we’ll see. I think Cervelli is the guy, as long as he is playing well and staying healthy for the foreseeable future now.

Y2JGQ2

Mallorie- Diaz’s value has never been his offense, at this point the fact that his offense has been average, makes him an above league average starting catcher as soon as he can throw again, that has huge trade value.

Kozy21

This is great news!

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