Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Veteran Defense-First Catcher

The Pittsburgh Pirates made a move to shore up their catching position, by signing defensively elite, but notoriously light-hitting, eight-year veteran Austin Hedges to a one-year deal.

It's a $5M contract for Hedges, who's spent the past two full seasons with the Cleveland Guardians. In his time there, he hit .169 with a .502 OPS. His .489 OPS in 2022 was dead-last among all position players in the majors with at least 300 plate appearances. 

But it's obviously not his offense that keeps Hedges in the big leagues. It's his defense that is his calling card. In fact, Hedges, 30, leads all catchers in defensive runs saved (75) since his major league debut in 2015. 

Manager Derek Shelton said recently that top catching prospects Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis will start the season in the minors, making the Hedges signing a key add to the roster. 

Hedges spent the first 5+ seasons of his career with the San Diego Padres, and overall, has a .189 career average with a .578 OPS. 

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