According to Jon Heyman, the Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to sign catcher Austin Hedges on a one-year deal for $5M.
The 30-year-old backstop debuted in 2015 with the San Diego Padres, and remained there until getting traded to the Cleveland Indians during the 2020 season. He hit .163/.241/.248 in 105 games for Cleveland in 2022, before reaching free agency at the end of the season.
Hedges is a career .189/.247/.331 hitter in 605 games. His best season on offense came in 2018 with the Padres, when he put up a .711 OPS in 91 games. He had a .616 OPS in 406 games with San Diego, and a .502 OPS in 199 games with Cleveland.
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%.
With that salary, it seems safe to assume that Hedges will be the #1 catcher for the Pirates to start the 2023 season. The only other catcher on the 40-man roster is Endy Rodriguez, who will be starting the season with Triple-A Indianapolis.
The Pirates re-signed Tyler Heineman recently, and they still have Jason Delay, so they’re returning their two main catchers from the 2022 season. Both are on minor league deals.
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.