The Pirates have signed catcher Christian Bethancourt to a minor league deal, according to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). Bethancourt will report to Pittsburgh’s Triple-A affiliate for the beginning of the minor league season.
From 2013-17, Bethancourt hit .222/.252/.316 over 489 plate appearances with the Braves and Padres, primarily playing catcher but also getting some time as a corner outfielder, second baseman, and even as a pitcher over six relief appearances. (He also played some first base in the minors.) Bethancourt is still looking for a return trip to the majors, having played with the Brewers’ Triple-A team in 2018, the KBO League’s NC Dinos in 2019, and he has also inked minor league contracts with the Phillies in each of the last two offseasons but didn’t see any official playing time with Philadelphia.
Bethancourt will likely be deployed as catching depth, joining Andrew Susac and Joe Hudson as MLB-experienced backstops in Pittsburgh’s farm system. Jacob Stallings and Michael Perez are the Pirates’ top two catchers at the big league level, and since the Bucs are still in the midst of a rebuild, it wouldn’t be a shock if Stallings (currently hitting a cool .246/.388/.400 in 80 PA) was moved before the July trade deadline. This could open the door for Bethancourt or one of the other catchers to be bumped up to the active roster.