Longtime MLB catcher Francisco Cervelli announced his retirement in an Instagram post today (h/t to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Daniel Álvarez Montes of Elextrabase (Twitter link) was first with the news of Cervelli’s forthcoming announcement.
Signed by the Yankees as an international amateur from Venezuela in 2003, Cervelli broke into the big leagues as a September call-up five years later. He would go on to see big league action for New York every year from 2008-14 but only eclipsed 200 plate appearances in a season once. Following a 2014 trade to the Pirates for reliever Justin Wilson, Cervelli finally got an opportunity as a team’s #1 catcher. He made the most of it. In 2015, Cervelli hit .295/.370/.401 (117 wRC+) in 510 plate appearances while rating as one of the league’s premier receiving catchers.
Unfortunately, a worrisome series of concussions kept Cervelli from matching that lofty workload in the following seasons. Nevertheless, he generally continued to produce when healthy over the rest of his five-year Pittsburgh tenure. A miserable 2019 season eventually led to Cervelli’s release from Pittsburgh, although he did latch on with the Braves for their playoff run last season.
Cervelli signed a one-year deal with the Marlins last offseason and was thrust into the lineup when presumptive starter Jorge Alfaro went on the injured list. Even at age 34, he acquitted himself well, hitting .245/.355/.453 in 16 games. Unfortunately, another concussion (at least the seventh of his career) sent him back to the injured list in August. It soon became apparent he wouldn’t factor into the Marlins’ playoff push. Miami had already placed Cervelli on the 60-day IL, so today’s news won’t affect their roster status in advance of next week’s NL Division Series with the Braves.
This surely isn’t the way Cervelli would’ve wanted his career to end, but he noted in his announcement that “for the first time in a long time, I know my health and wellness needs to be the leadoff.” Despite his various injuries, Cervelli ultimately compiled a 13-year MLB career. He hit .268/.358/.382 with 41 home runs over 2618 plate appearances, a bit better than the league average hitter overall. Baseball Reference estimates he was worth approximately 14 wins above replacement, while FanGraphs pegs his career as worth 18 WAR. MLBTR wishes Cervelli the best in retirement.