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.