According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the Pittsburgh Pirates and catcher Francisco Cervelli have agreed to terms on a three-year contract extension through the 2019 season. Passan reports that the deal includes no options and is worth a total of $31 million.
Adam Berry of MLB.com tweeted Tuesday afternoon that the deal will pay the Venezuelan backstop $9 million in 2017, $10.5 million in 2018, and $11.5 million in 2019. Cervelli, currently in the midst of his ninth major-league campaign, is still in just his age-30 season, meaning this deal will make him a free agent again prior to his age-34 season in 2020.
Signed as an international free agent in 2003 by the New York Yankees, Cervelli’s career in the Bronx was less than memorable for many reasons. He appeared in just 184 games over his first five seasons from 2008 to 2012, then sat out most of the 2013 season after being suspended as part of the Biogenesis PED scandal. After hitting .301/.370/.432 in 162 plate appearances as the Yankees’ backup in 2014, he was sent to Pittsburgh in the offseason in return for reliever Justin Wilson.
Cervelli won Pittsburgh’s starting job for 2015 and did not disappoint, batting .295/.370/.401 in 510 plate appearances, hitting 17 doubles, five triples, and seven homers, good for a 119 wRC+. Cervelli also provided excellent defense behind the plate, especially with regards to receiving. According to Baseball Prospectus, Cervelli’s pitch framing was worth a whopping 19 runs above average last season.
So far in 2016, Cervelli has continued his solid play behind the dish for the Pirates, slashing .276/.386/.319 over 140 plate appearances thus far for a 101 wRC+. Defensively, he has added 1.7 runs above average with his receiving.
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