It’s been a quiet offseason for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but it appears general manager Neal Huntington has turned to a familiar friend to made an addition to the major-league roster.
As first reported by ESPN’s Buster Olney on Monday morning and further elucidated by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Pirates are on the verge of trading for New York Yankees catcher Chris Stewart:
#pirates will send $ or player to be named to yanks in chris stewart deal being discussed. Olney mentioned 1st.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 2, 2013
Pirates fans likely aren’t surprised by this latest deal between Pittsburgh and New York, as Huntington and Yankees GM Brian Cashman have connected for several transactions since 2008. If the deal for Stewart is consummated, he would join Jose Tabata, Jeff Karstens, A.J. Burnett and Russell Martin as former Yankees who found their next opportunities with the Pirates.
Of course, Martin was a free-agent signing last winter, while the rest of the above were picked up in trades. Nonetheless, it’s ironic that the big-market Yankees have made a habit of losing MLB-caliber talent to Pittsburgh.
Stewart, who will be 32 on Opening Day, projected to be non-tendered by the Yankees last month when New York kept fellow catcher Francisco Cervelli. The Yanks’ signing of free-agent backstop Brian McCann furthered the crunch behind the plate, making Stewart available on the trade market.
Stewart’s offensive numbers have been downright awful in his seven-year MLB career, as he has posted a .214/.287/.288 triple-slash line in 257 games. However, he caught on with the Yankees, his fifth big-league organization, because of his defensive and pitch-framing abilities. Stewart played 109 games for New York in 2013, earning plaudits for his game calling from Yankees pitchers.
If the Pirates acquire Stewart, he is eligible for salary arbitration. He would likely serve as a backup to Martin, which would push the promising Tony Sanchez back to Triple-A for regular duty. The 25-year-old Sanchez appeared in 22 games for Pittsburgh in his rookie season, showing excellent defensive abilities while collecting 14 hits (four doubles, two homers) and three walks in 60 at-bats.
UPDATE (10:50 a.m.): Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Pirates beat reporter Jenn Menendez tweets that the trade for Stewart has been completed and will involve a player to be named later sent back to the Yankees. To make room for Stewart on the Bucs’ 40-man roster, catcher Michael McKenry has been designated for assignment.