With the departure of Jacob Stallings this past offseason, the Pirates have multiple question marks surrounding the most important position on the field: catcher.
As of now, Roberto Perez, who the Pirates signed to a one-year deal prior to the lockout, seems to have the starting spot wrapped up. And with Henry Davis not scheduled to come up for a few years, the back-up role is still open for anyone’s taking.
So, with Perez as your main backstop, who could be his back-up for the 2022 season?
The potential backups
Michael Perez had arguably his worst year in 2021 after posting a .143/.221/.290 line offensively and a career-high 20 stolen bases allowed, but he has the highest chance of returning to the back-up catcher role in 2022.
Where he’s most valuable, however, is his framing ability according to Baseball Savant. His framing charts show that he saved two runs in 2021 due to his framing ability and got more than 60 percent of inside and outside pitches called strikes.
M. Perez is not the answer to the team’s catching woes going forward, but considering this year will be another throw away season, having an affordable back-up option that has a year with the team under his belt wouldn’t be a terrible thing.
MICHAEL PEREZ.— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) June 19, 2021
LET’S GOOOOO!!! pic.twitter.com/CVn4fuIDS2
Taylor Davis is an intriguing option for the back-up catcher role this year.
He’s never had a long string of games at the MLB level, but has done relatively well when he’s put into a game.
Last season, the Pirates traded for Davis when he was a member of the Baltimore Orioles and he put up OK numbers including a combined .248 average in Triple-A. The interesting part is that he was called up prior to the end of last season and went 2-for-5 at the plate with a walk in two games. Considering that more than half the team barely scraped a .180 average and struck out a lot, this was good to see from him.
A couple other things to keep in mind is that through 63 innings in the MLB, Davis has yet to commit an error at catcher, as well as first and third base.
If he can impress during Spring Training, there’s a strong chance he cracks the active roster in April or May.
Signed to a minor league contract in the offseason, Ritchie has had plenty of success over the past couple years as a farmhand with a couple teams, including the Arizona Diamondbacks.
In seven professional seasons, Ritchie slashed .286/.404/.400 with a career OPS of .804 in the minors, but struggled at the Major League level, collecting just 10 hits in 43 at-bats.
His versatility is what makes him a possible candidate for the Pirates during the regular season as, along with catching, he has experience playing first base, outfield and designated hitter.
Unless he shines in Spring Training, or if injuries pile up during the regular season, it would be difficult to pit Ritchie on the active roster this year.
You may be asking yourself “Where are the better options, like Carter Bins or Endy Rodriguez?” They’ll come with time, but, barring a miracle, this year will not be the year we see the future catchers make an appearance.
Who would you want as the Pirates’ back-up catcher in 2022?
This poll is closed
Literally anyone else