The Pirates are set to sign Andrew Knapp to serve as their backup catcher, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Knapp, who’s spent the past five seasons with the cross-state Phillies, was in camp with the Reds this spring but was granted his release recently after being informed he wouldn’t make the roster. Knapp is repped by Apex Baseball.
Knapp, 30, was long one of the Phillies’ more highly ranked prospects and even cracked Baseball America’s Top 100 list (No. 96) in the 2015-16 offseason. However, while he had a solid rookie season at the plate and enjoyed a productive stretch of 89 plate appearances during the shortened 2020 season, he’s yet to consistently deliver average or better production in the Majors. Through 827 MLB plate appearances, all coming with the Phillies, Knapp is a .214/.314/.322 hitter. He’s drawn a walk in 11.9% of career plate appearances, and while a good chunk of those have come batting eighth in front of the pitcher, Knapp has walk rates north of 11% even when batting sixth and seventh in the lineup.
Defensively, Knapp has drawn roughly average ratings for his ability to block pitches in the dirt, but his 19% caught-stealing rate and framing marks at both FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus check in below average. Knapp does have a vastly superior 31% caught-stealing mark in parts of six minor league seasons, however, and he’s a career .262/.335/.381 hitter at the Triple-A level.
The Pirates traded catcher Jacob Stallings, one of the sport’s premier defensive players, to the Marlins this offseason in a deal that netted them right-hander Zach Thompson and prospects Kyle Nicolas and Connor Scott. Pittsburgh quickly turned around and signed free agent Roberto Perez, another high-end defender but one whose bat has dropped off in recent years while dealing with a series of thumb and hand injuries.
Knapp will give the Bucs an experienced backup to Perez, likely pushing non-roster options Michael Perez and Taylor Davis to Triple-A Indianapolis to begin the year. Of course, 2021 No. 1 overall pick Henry Davis is viewed as the catcher of the future for the Pirates, but the former Louisville star will still need a couple years of development time in all likelihood.