By Jason Shetler
The Pirates made quite the surprising move on Thursday, as they agreed to sign Chris Stewart to a two-year extension, which also includes a 2018 club option. The 33-year-old backstop has now become one of the more reliable backup catchers in baseball, not just for being a decent hitter, but also being an excellent pitch framer behind the plate. Because Stewart was projected to make $1.6 million as his arbitration figure, the extension for him should be on the cheap side. So what does the extension mean as it relates to fellow catchers Francisco Cervelli and Elias Diaz? – Here is my assessment.
Cervelli is coming off his best season in 2015. With only having one more year of team control, the Pirates have been on record to say that they would like to extend Cervelli. Perhaps Cervelli’s agent could suggest to him to wait out and test the free agent waters next offseason for a bigger deal, as opposed to a team-friendly extension that the Pirates would more than likely offer. Personally, I still wouldn’t rule out a Cervelli extension to be made possibly in Spring Training, which the Pirates have done each of the last two years with Starling Marte and Josh Harrison. If a Cervelli extension is reached, then that leaves Elias Diaz becoming a trade candidate. Should the Pirates contend again this season, and Diaz performs well in AAA, there’s a good chance he could get dealt at the trade deadline for maybe a veteran starting pitcher.