He doesn't offer nearly the offensive upside of Wilson Ramos, but there's another veteran catcher out there who could be an even better fit for the Phillies to complement Jorge Alfaro on a short-term deal.
Pittsburgh's Francisco Cervelli.
The Pirates are "open to dealing" Cervelli, according to Yahoo's Jeff Passan.
Cervelli has one year left under contract at $11.5 million. He is a great fit for the Phillies, based on both his contract and skill set. The Phillies really like Alfaro and with a move like this, they wouldn't be committing multiple years to a vet. It would, for one year, give the Phillies a 1-B if Alfaro is regarded as the 1-A.
The Phillies will likely place a call about Cervelli. His most valuable skills — plate selection, pitch-framing, defense behind the plate — are three things the Phillies covet and need. This is an organization obsessed with pitch-framing, and Cervelli has long been one of baseball's best in that category.
Alfaro graded out well in framing in 2018, but there is no doubt that, far too often, catching the ball perfectly affected his ability to catch it cleanly. Alfaro will grow and improve in that regard, but Cervelli gives you the framing skills without the passed balls and wild pitches. Cervelli is also well-above-average in nabbing base-stealers.
Offensively, Cervelli does not have Ramos' power, but he's in the top-three among catchers in on-base percentage year after year. Cervelli's OBPs the last six years:
2013 — .377
2014 — .370
2015 — .370
2016 — .377
2017 — .342
2018 — .378
He walks, he doesn't strike out much, and he hits a ton of singles. Cervelli is the kind of player you want batting with a man on third and less than two outs because you know he's going to put the ball in play. In those exact situations this past season, he succeeded in 16 of 18 chances, either driving in the run, walking or being hit by a pitch.
He was also excellent with runners in scoring position in 2018, hitting .302/.383/.563.
Cervelli makes a lot of sense for the Phillies, checks off a lot of boxes. The one-year length of the deal — which offers the possibility of a reunion if things work out but leaves you unscathed if it doesn't — only adds to the appeal.
Beyond all of that, Cervelli is a leader, the kind of high-energy, enthusiastic player who will always be the first to stick up for a teammate or put his arm around a strugging player. The Phillies could use that, too.
A soon-to-be 33-year-old with an eight-figure salary in a market well-stocked with catchers, Cervelli won't command a huge return in a trade. Think more along the lines of lottery ticket than Top 10 prospect.
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