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Francisco Cervelli open to extension

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Travis Sawchik is reporting that catcher Francisco Cervelli is waiting for the Pirates to begin contract extension talks.  According to Sawchik, Cervelli would be willing to sign for three years at approximately $13M per season.  The Pirates, however, have not opened talks.  Cervelli will be eligible for free agency after the 2016 season.

In 2015, Cervelli managed two remarkable achievements.  One was successfully replacing Russell Martin not only as the Pirates' catcher, but one of the best catchers in baseball.  Cervelli produced a 114 OPS+ at the plate while rating as one of MLB's best pitch framers.  Cervelli's other crowning achievement was simply staying healthy.  After playing in only 66 major league games in the previous two years combined, Cervelli appeared in 130 for the Pirates.

The question whether to try to extent Cervelli obviously presents the Pirates with a difficult decision.  In Reese McGuire and Elias Diaz, they currently have two of the top catching prospects in the minors, and Diaz is major league ready now.  Cervelli would come with considerable risk, as well, given his injury history and his limited history of major league success, despite the fact that he's just five weeks short of 30.  On the other hand, Cervelli's injuries--primarily a couple fractures and a hamstring, plus a drug suspension--haven't been of the chronic sort, like, say, back problems.  It could be argued that he has much less wear and tear than the average 30-year-old catcher.  The fact that the Pirates haven't approached Cervelli yet and have rebuffed numerous inquiries on Diaz indicates, however, that an extension may not be in the plans.  Sawchik does point out that Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Josh Harrison all agreed to extensions in March or April, but none of them was in his walk year and none had an obvious replacement waiting in the wings.