The news broke yesterday that Francisco Cervelli agreed to a contract extension worth $31 million over the next three season, locking him up as a Pirate through the 2019 season. This is fantastic news; Cervelli has become an instant fan favorite in Pittsburgh due to a combination of good hitting, hard-nosed playing, his walkup song “That’s Amore,”, and his awesome accent.
Most importantly, though, is that this puts the Pirates in a position where they’re solidified at catcher for the next couple years. In addition to Cervelli being locked up, backup catcher Chris Stewart is signed through 2017, giving the Pirates stability at what was a previously volatile position for them for several years. This deal should also give top 100 prospect Reese McGuire ample opportunity to hone his game in the minors.
There are a few interesting repercussions from this; Elias Diaz seems to be close to Major League-ready, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him traded at some point in the future. It’s possible the Pirates keep him due to the health concerns that could still be a factor in the remainder of Cervelli’s tenure on the North Shore, but he seems like he would be good trade bait at this point to secure some good bullpen arms or a rental starter at the deadline. The Pirates need to make use of their farm system at some point, and trades are one way to put that system into action.
This extension surprised me a little bit, as I thought Cervelli could likely do better in free agency. Cervelli had some nice things to say in the press conference about the extension. One quote that really stuck out was “I feel this is my house. It’s a place I want to be for, I hope, the rest of my career.” It’s great to see Cervelli recognizing the fact that the Pirates were the team to give him a real shot as a full-time starting catcher and that each side could show their appreciation for the other.
Neal Huntington has been on fire with these extensions in recent years. McCutchen, Marte, Polanco, Harrison, and now Cervelli have signed what either are or appear to be team-friendly extensions, locking up players for their primes while they’ve mostly outproduced the value of their contracts. Each time I assume it isn’t possible to do again, and then Huntington makes it happen; the guy is a fantastic GM.
With this extension, every fielding position is secured through the 2018 season (assuming Josh Bell lives up to the hype to become a strong Major Leaguer and can replace Jaso, who’s only signed through 2017), with many beyond that even. Now to get that pitching staff fixed up, which will hopefully happen over the coming years through some really bright pitching prospects in the minors.