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Giants’ Opening Day catcher lands with Cardinals



Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants’ magician catcher has gone poof. He’ll fittingly be found again with Cards.

Tyler Heineman, an accomplished magician who was the Giants’ Opening Day catcher this season, signed a minor league deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, he announced Friday.

“Excited to join the club I grew up rooting for!” the 29-year-old UCLA product wrote on Twitter. “Thank you @SFGiants and fans for an unforgettable 2020. I love you all and thank you for your continued support throughout this wild ride. Go Cards!”

Heineman signed with the Giants last offseason looking to replace Stephen Vogt as a switch-hitting potential complement to Buster Posey. Those plans changed greatly, and Heineman, who had briefly debuted in 2019 with the Marlins, was thrust into a platoon role first with Rob Brantly and then Chadwick Tromp before Joey Bart’s promotion sent Heineman to Sacramento.

He had shown the same on-base skills he displayed in the minors and was an excellent bunter, sometimes against the shift. He batted just .190 in 15 games with a double, though he played solid defense and posted a better .292 on-base percentage.

Giants fans may best remember Heineman for his team-best 0.00 ERA. He threw seven pitches in recording three outs in an Aug. 16 loss to the A’s, becoming the only Giants pitcher in a 15-3 blowout to not allow a run. Gabe Kapler needed someone to eat an inning, and the well-liked Heineman was more than willing.

For Heineman, he could go from one tricky spot in replacing a legend to another. While Posey opted out to care for his newborn adopted twins, the Cardinals’ catcher position is unclear with Yadier Molina hitting the free-agent market.

For the Giants, they are left with a returning Posey and Bart, who struggled in his first taste of big-league play, as well as Tromp, who likely would start 2021 in the minors, if those exist. Farhan Zaidi has mentioned they may look for a free-agent catcher to pair with Posey to allow Bart more time to develop.