Veteran catcher Kevin Plawecki, who’s been in camp with the Pirates this spring as a non-roster invitee, has been informed he won’t make the club, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic tweets. The catcher’s locker has been emptied out, and John Perrotto of Pittsburgh Baseball Now writes that Plawecki will exercise the opt-out clause in his contract. Plawecki has an opt-out afforded to him as an Article XX(B) free agent (that is, a player with six-plus years of service who ended the preceding season on a Major League roster or injured list). The formal date for that opt-out is tomorrow, but it’s possible the Bucs gave him the courtesy of allowing him to step away sooner in order to have more time to search for a new opportunity.
Plawecki, 32, went 4-for-17 with a pair of doubles, no walks and two strikeouts in limited time with the Pirates this spring. He’s coming off a 2022 season in which he batted .220/.286/.286 with eight doubles in 186 plate appearances between the Red Sox and Rangers.
A veteran of eight big league seasons, Plawecki is a lifetime .235/.313/.341 hitter in the Majors. He’s primarily operated as a backup throughout his career. Plawecki drew plus grades for his defense and framing early in his career, but his framing has been closer to average over the past couple years and Statcast has dinged his blocking skills as below-average in that time. Plawecki has a strong reputation both in the clubhouse and for his work with pitchers; both Nathan Eovaldi and Rich Hill expressed frustration and disappointment to WEEI’s Rob Bradford last year following the Red Sox’ decision to release Plawecki late in the year.
For the Pirates, subtracting Plawecki from camp likely means either Tyler Heineman or Jason Delay will be the backup to starter Austin Hedges. Neither has hit particularly well this spring — Heineman is 1-for-17, Delay is 2-for-12 — but both appeared in at least 52 games with Pittsburgh last season and are already familiar with the pitching staff. Neither player is currently on the 40-man roster.