As another offseason unfolds, another New York Yankees catcher is coming to Pittsburgh. On Monday, the Pirates announced that they acquired catcher Chris Stewart from the Yankees for a player to be named later. To clear a space for the acquisition on the 40-man roster, catcher Michael McKenry was designated for assignment.
ESPN's Buster Olney was the first to indicate that the two teams were close on the deal early Monday morning.
Stewart, 31, is a career .214 hitter with 2013 serving as the biggest workload he has seen thus far in his seven-year, major league career. Last season, the 6-foot-4-inch backstop hit .211 with four home runs and 25 RBI in 340 plate appearances. Behind the plate, Stewart threw out 17 baserunners, which was fifth in the American League.
While on the surface it appears a bit of a head-scratcher, Stewart is known as one of the best pitch-framers in the game today, as Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review points out.
John Buck, who was acquired midseason and is an unrestricted free agent, tops the list of the worst pitch-framers of 2013.
A variable in this equation is the development of former first-round pick Tony Sanchez, who will now face competition for the backup role going into spring training. In his debut season in the big leagues, Sanchez hit .233 with two home runs and five RBI in 60 at-bats.
McKenry tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee in July and missed the rest of the regular season. Monday was the deadline to tender an offer to those eligible for arbitration, like McKenry. As Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes, it's still conceivable that he rejoins the Bucs in a minor league capacity if he clears waivers.