The Pittsburgh Pirates were looking for a catcher.
That’s what we can draw from the two different trades they attempted this past summer with left-handed pitcher Tyler Anderson.
The Pirates first tried to deal Anderson to the Philadelphia Phillies for two prospects. One of them was Abrahan Gutierrez, a catcher. That deal fell through, though the Pirates later made a separate deal to get Gutierrez.
Anderson was immediately traded to the Seattle Mariners, landing catcher Carter Bins and lower-level right-handed pitcher Joaquin Tejada.
Bins had a strong year in High-A with Seattle, posting a .284/.422/.493 line in 148 at-bats, while showing above-average defensive abilities. He struggled at the plate in Double-A with both organizations, but ultimately had a small sample, with his time cut short by a wrist injury. The limited time with the Pirates after the trade was enough to leave a good impression on Altoona manager Miguel Perez.
“He’s a guy who has a very good idea with what he’s doing behind the plate,” Perez, a former catcher himself, said to me in September. “He takes pride with what he’s doing behind the plate. He throws and receives well. He’s very respectful. He’s going to play hard all the time, regardless.”
Perez said that the types of questions Bins had asked after coming over were baseball questions, and praised his ability to be a leader on the field with good vision of the entire field in front of him.
“I always say the catcher is the conductor of the orchestra,” Perez said. “You can see everything. You can see all of the instruments, how they play, how they move.”
Bins credited his defense as the best aspect of his game, noting that his ability to know situations, receive, and block among his best skills. The Pirates have a long-term catching role open, and Bins could be a candidate for that if he pairs the defense with the strong offense he showed in A-ball.
“I don’t think there’s a limit to my offensive side,” Bins said. “We’ll just keep working, keep getting better, keep getting more at-bats at the plate. I think my offensive side will catch up to my defensive side.”
Bins already made some strides heading into 2021. During the lost 2020 season, he bought a pitching machine and worked with some local baseball friends on keeping their eyes ready by seeing velocity. He would take videos and send it to his hitting coaches, working on cleaning up his bat path. Bins also put on some weight to get his body prepared for the full season.
The Pirates stocked up on catchers over the summer. Aside from Bins, they did add Gutierrez, and also drafted Louisville catcher Henry Davis first overall. Davis projects to be the catcher of the future, and in that projection, Bins and Gutierrez would be vying for a backup role. If Davis doesn’t reach his upside, Bins is an interesting sleeper candidate to follow in the upper levels in 2022.