The Giants, seeking to pad the most unsettled position on their roster heading into spring training, reportedly signed veteran catcher Roberto Pérez.
Pérez, a Gold Glove winner in 2019 and 2020, has been limited by injuries for the past two seasons. If the deal gets finalized, Pérez, 34, would likely compete for playing time with backups Austin Wynns and Blake Sabol.
The deal, first reported by Chris Cotillo of MassLive, isn’t official and terms aren’t yet known. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said in early January that the Giants could have interest in adding a catcher, but probably not one on a big-league deal, signaling Pérez’s contract could be a minor league one.
“Maybe adding someone on a non-roster basis, but it’s really unlikely at this point we add someone on a Major League deal,” Zaidi said Jan. 12.
Joey Bart, who hit 11 home runs in an uneven 2022 rookie season, has the inside track on the Opening Day catcher job. He’s the only catcher on San Francisco’s current 26-man roster with real catching experience, making the situation behind him murky.
Wynns emerged as a reliable glove-first catcher last season after the Giants added him as a stopgap solution, becoming ace Carlos Rodón’s go-to batterymate. But Wynns doesn’t have a promising track record in the batter’s box and no team claimed him when the Giants designated him for assignment earlier this winter. The 32-year-old was outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento after clearing waivers.
Blake Sabol, acquired in a Rule 5 Draft trade, converted from the outfield to catcher in the minor leagues last year but doesn’t have any MLB experience behind the plate. Since he was acquired through the Rule 5 Draft, he must stay on SF’s 40-man roster for the season.
“(Sabol) has been working really hard, has been connecting with a lot of our pitchers,” Zaidi said. “He’s really impressed us with his preparation for the season so far. He has no Major League experience, he’s a rookie. Again, it’s a little bit like what we discussed with (David) Villar and (LaMonte) Wade: we’ve got to give these guys opportunities, and they need to be part of the vehicle for improvement for us by creating some consistency for themselves at the Major League level.”
And even Bart has question marks. His strikeout rates early in the season were so unsustainable, the Giants sent him to Sacramento for a four-week reset. He rallied by hitting .328 with an .888 OPS in August, but slashed .172/.238/.241 in his last 23 games.
Pérez broke out in 2019 with 24 home runs for Cleveland, but isn’t known for his offense. He’s a career .207 hitter in nine seasons — eight with Cleveland and one with the Pirates. His next-highest home run total is eight and he’s only hit 10 over the past three seasons.
Pérez routinely ranks around the top-10 in pop time to second base and grades favorably in defensive runs saved and framing. He played just 76 games in 2020 and 2021 due to injury and his 2022 season with the PIrates ended after 21 games when he tore his right hamstring trying to go from first to third on a single to right field.