The Pittsburgh Pirates officially announced the signing of catcher Austin Hedges on Tuesday afternoon. No word yet on the corresponding move to open up a spot on the 40-man roster. The news of this agreement broke on Saturday. He agreed to a one-year deal for $5M.
The 30-year-old Hedges has struggled at the plate over his career, posting a .189/.247/.331 slash line in 605 games. Those numbers are lower over his last three seasons since joining Cleveland. However, he is known as one of the better defensive catchers in the game.
“We are excited to add Austin to our group,” said Pirates General Manager Ben Cherington, via press release. “He’s been one of the best defensive catchers in baseball for years and has earned a terrific reputation for his positive impact on pitchers.”
His defense has rated above average every full season according to dWAR, improving the last two seasons to 1.4 in 2021 and 1.2 in 2022. He has thrown out 30% of runners throughout his career, while the league average during that time is 26%.
The Pirates have just two catchers on their 40-man roster right now, and young Endy Rodriguez will be starting the season Indianapolis. Hedges appears to be their starter.
We could still see another catcher brought in to compete with Tyler Heineman and Jason Delay for the backup spot. Delay and Heineman combined to start 93 games for the Pirates in 2022.
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.