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As the Pittsburgh Pirates continue to hunt for a new catcher, could veteran Jason Castro be the answer?
General manager Ben Cherington has a lot of needs he must address for the Pittsburgh Pirates this offseason. One of the biggest needs he must address is the catcher position. After being among the best teams in baseball in terms of catcher production in 2018, the Pirates were one of the worst in 2019.
The Pirates primarily used three catchers in 2019 – Elias Diaz, Francisco Cervelli and Jacob Stallings. In addition, Steven Barron also played in seven games. Overall, Pirate catchers combined for a fWAR of -0.5 in 2019 and this was despite Stallings posting a 1.3 fWAR.
Catching market starting to thin out for the Brewers
Stallings did emerge in 2019. In 71 games he slashed .262/.325/.382 with a wRC+ of 82 and his aforementioned 1.3 fWAR. While Stallings proved to be a great defensive catcher and a plus framer, he struggled to hit for any power at all. Due to this, his ceiling moving forward is that of a back up catcher.
Cervelli battled injuries before being released and signing with the Atlanta Braves, Diaz was abysmal and is a DFA candidate this offseason and Barron is a career minor leaguer for a reason. Even though the Pirates may not be looking to compete in 2020, their catcher situation is not good enough and must be addressed this offseason. One way to address this situation would be to target free agent Jason Castro.
The left-handed hitting Castro is a nine-year MLB veteran who has spent the last three seasons with the Minnesota Twins. Castro owns a 14.5 fWAR, 93 wRC+, .308 wOBA, and a .231/.313/.390 slash line in 825 MLB games.
While Castro is a slightly below league average hitter, he is a plus defender behind the dish. Castro’s career dWAR is 71.0. He is highly regarded for his ability to call a game, handling of a pitching staff, his ability to lead his staff, and his pitch framing.
Castro would be a great influence for a young Pirate pitching staff. The lessons that pitchers such as Edgar Santana, Joe Musgrove, Kyle Crick, Mitch Keller, and others, could learn from Castro are lessons that may prove to be invaluable.
The Pittsburgh Priates are in need of catching help in 2020. Veteran Jason Castro could provide this help to a Pirate team that features a young pitching staff. Castro’s name will be one to watch as the offseason continues.