By Matthew Kruth, The Burgh Blog Writer, @theburghblog_mk
PITTSBURGH – The Pirates extended Francisco Cervelli Tuesday afternoon. With the move, the Pirates took care of the catching position for the foreseeable future.
Cervelli agreed to a 3-year, $31M deal that runs through the end of the 2019 season. This makes John Jaso the only player in the regular starting lineup who is not signed through the 2018 season or beyond.
With Elias Diaz, the Pirates’ closest catching prospect to the majors, going under the knife recently for an elbow injury, the Pirates have answered any questions about the next few years at the catcher position.
There is some risk to the move for the Pirates, as Cervelli does have an injury-riddled history. He is also going to be entering his age 30-33 seasons as this deal begins next season. History tells us that catchers over the age of 30 tend to decline in productivity very quickly (just take a look at Russell Martin since he’s left Pittsburgh).
However, the potential benefits and production of the Pirates backstop outweighs all of that. Since arriving in Pittsburgh, Cervelli has been one of the best defensive catchers in all of baseball. Add that to his ability to swing the bat, and you have the catcher with the second most WAR in all of Major League Baseball during his tenure in Pittsburgh to this point (trailing only Buster Posey).
Reese McGuire and Elias Diaz were expected to be the future at the catching position in the long term, but with the signing of Cervelli, one may expect at least one of them to be used as trade bait at some point over the nest year or two. There just doesn’t figure to be enough room in the upper levels for both guys to stay in the Pirates system.
These are questions to be answered on another day. For now, enjoy the day and the fact that one of the most beloved, productive Pirates is here to stay….. and that’s a’more.