Austin Hedges

AUSTIN HEDGES, CATCHER
Born: August 18, 1992
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 223
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 2nd Round, 82nd Overall, 2011 (Padres)
How Acquired: Free agent signing
High School: JSerra Catholic HS (San Juan Capistrano, CA)
Agent: Boras Corporation
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
Hedges is a very good defensive catcher but an egregiously bad hitter, with a 189/247/331 career line.  In fact, since he debuted in 2015, he’s been the worst hitter in MLB among those with at least 2,000 plate appearances.  His career OPS+ is 58 and he hasn’t been above 50 since 2018.  He hits for a very low average, in part due to an extremely low career BABIP of .229, which probably results in part from bottom-level speed.  Hedges doesn’t walk much and struggles to make contact.  He hit for modest power early in his career, but over the last several years hasn’t done much in that area, either.  Defensively, he’s generally rated above-average, sometimes well above, in pitch framing.  For his career he’s thrown out 30% of base stealers, a little above the MLB average of 26%.  Since 2015, he ranks first among all catchers in defensive runs saved, ironically just ahead of Roberto Perez.

2011
R:  313/500/500, 16 AB, 1 HR, 5 BB, 1 K, 1-1 SB
A-:  100/250/200, 10 AB, 1 2B, 2 BB, 3 K

Hedges signed late after the draft and played only briefly.  Baseball America ranked him fifth among the Padres’ prospects.

2012
A:  279/334/451, 337 AB, 28 2B, 10 HR, 23 BB, 62 K, 14-23 SB

San Diego sent Hedges to full season ball and he had a very good year.  BA ranked him fourth in the system.

2013
A+:  270/343/425, 233 AB, 22 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 22 BB, 45 K, 5-9 SB
AA:  224/297/269, 67 AB, 3 2B, 6 BB, 9 K, 3-4 SB

Hedges had another good year, mostly in high A, although the high-offense environment in the California League has to be taken into account; his numbers were very close to the league averages.  He missed a month after getting hit on the hand by a pitch, but did finish the season in AA.  BA ranked him the team’s top prospect.

2014
AA:  225/268/321, 427 AB, 19 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 23 BB, 89 K, 1-4 SB

The Padres kept Hedges in AA all year but, after a solid first half at the plate, he collapsed in the second half.  BA still ranked him fifth in the team’s system.

2015
AAA:  324/392/521, 71 AB, 8 2B, 2 HR, 8 BB, 8 K, 1-1 SB
MLB:  168/215/248, 137 AB, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 BB, 38 K

Hedges opened the season and hit very well through early May, when San Diego called him up.  He spent the rest of the season in the majors, mainly as a backup to Derek Norris, and struggled to hit.

2016
AAA:  326/353/597, 313 AB, 20 2B, 1 3B, 21 HR, 13 BB, 51 K, 1-2 SB
MLB:  125/154/167, 24 AB, 1 2B, 7 K, 0-1 SB

The Padres sent Hedges back to AAA for most of the season.  He had a big year there, but didn’t get called up until late September.

2017
R:  000/000/000, 3 AB, 2 K
MLB:  215/262/398, 387 AB, 17 2B, 18 HR, 23 BB, 122 K, 4-5 SB

Apart from a brief injury rehab, Hedges spent the season in the majors, serving as the Padres’ primary catcher.  He hit for solid power, but struggled to make contact or get on base.

2018
A+:  333/357/417, 12 AB, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K
AAA:  407/452/852, 27 AB, 3 2B, 3 HR, 3 BB, 9 K
MLB:  231/282/429, 303 AB, 14 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 21 BB, 90 K, 3-3 SB

Hedges again served as San Diego’s primary catcher, wlthouth he missed a month with elbow tendinitis.  He again hit for fairly good power and struggled to do much else.

2019
MLB:  176/252/311, 312 AB, 9 2B, 11 HR, 27 BB, 109 K, 1-1 SB

Hedges spent the full season with the Padres and remained their primary catcher, but he lost some playing time as the year went along to prospect Francisco Mejia.  Hedges’ hitting tailed off in all areas.

2020
MLB (SD):  158/258/333, 57 AB, 1 2B, 3 HR, 6 BB, 18 K, 1-2 SB
MLB (Cleve):  083/083/083, 12 AB, 5 K

In the pandemic season, Hedges remained the Padres’ top catcher, but his hitting tailed off even further and he went to Cleveland in a nine-player trade at the end of August.  He played very little after the trade.

2021
MLB:  178/220/308, 286 AB, 7 2B, 10 HR, 15 BB, 87 K, 1-1 SB

Hedges split the Guardians’ catching duties with Roberto Perez and several other catchers, playing a little over half the time.  His hitting remained very bad.

2022
MLB:  163/241/248, 294 AB, 4 2B, 7 HR, 25 BB, 78 K, 2-2 SB

The Guardians again employed Hedges behind the plate a little over half the time.  His hitting got still worse, as his power mostly disappeared.

After 2022, the Pirates were widely expected to re-sign Roberto Perez, who missed most of the season with an injury.  Instead, they signed Hedges, probably due to injury concerns with Perez.  The Pirates are widely expected to call Endy Rodriguez up in 2023, although he’ll no doubt be stuck in AAA until the team feels he’ll be past super two eligibility.  Once Rodriguez comes up, Hedges should become the backup catcher, but with the Pirates, logic seldom plays a role.

CONTRACT INFORMATION
2023: $5,000,000
2022:
$4,000,000
2021: $3,280,000
2020: $3,000,000
2019: $2,060,000
2018: $553,100
2017: $537,100
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $3,000,000
MiLB Debut: 2011
MLB Debut: 5/4/2015
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2023
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2008
Options Remaining: N/A
MLB Service Time: 6.166
TRANSACTIONS
June 7, 2011: Drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 2nd round, 82nd overall pick; signed on August 15.
May 4, 2015: Contract purchased by the San Diego Padres.
August 31, 2020:
Traded by the San Diego Padres with Cal Quantrill, Josh Naylor, Gabriel Arias, Joey Cantillo and Owen Miller to the Cleveland Indians for Mike Clevinger, Greg Allen and Matt Waldron.
November 6, 2022: Became a free agent.
December 18, 2022: Signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates.