By Jason Shetler
When the Pirates lost Russell Martin to free agency and obtained Francisco Cervelli from the New York Yankees, the general consensus was that Cervelli would be a significant downgrade compared to Martin. Before the season, I did a post about Cervelli not being an upgrade over Martin, but suggesting that he could at the very least be a serviceable replacement. Cervelli has been way more than just serviceable for the Pirates, as he’s put up solid numbers this season.
2015: .300 avg, .779 OPS, 123 wRC+, 24% caught stealing (28% league average), 2.4 WAR in 83 games
Cervelli has been a real force at the plate, getting on base and showing the ability to create runs. Defensively, he’s been 4% below the league average, which may not stand out, but it’s not like teams are running at will on him. In addition, his pitch framing is considered one of the best in baseball, so he still makes his presence felt behind the plate. Going by his offensive figures, one could make a valid argument that Cervelli could have been a reserve catcher for the All-Star Game.
With the season Cervelli has put together, would the Pirates consider giving him an extension? – Cervelli is arbitration eligible this offseason, but will become a free agent after 2016. The current salary for Cervelli is only $987,500, which would have the makings for a team-friendly extension. Pirates top catching prospect Reese McGuire is projected to join the Pirates as early as 2017, so perhaps giving Cervelli a short term deal would be the most ideal until McGuire arrives to Pittsburgh.