The Pirates have claimed catcher Tyler Heineman off waivers from the Blue Jays, per announcements from both teams. Pittsburgh designated fellow catcher Andrew Knapp for assignment in order to create space on the roster.
Heineman, 30, wasn’t formally designated for assignment on the Blue Jays, nor was it announced that he’d been placed on waivers. Toronto surely hoped to open up a 40-man roster spot by passing Heineman through waivers while still keeping him in the organization to preserve some depth, but he’ll head to Pittsburgh and join the club as the new backup to Roberto Perez now that Knapp has been designated for assignment.
Set to turn 31 next month, Heineman is in his third big league season. Originally an eighth-round pick by the Astros back in 2012, he’s become something of a journeyman, having since bounced to the Brewers, Diamondbacks, Phillies, Marlins, Giants, Cardinals and Jays organizations. Heineman logged big league time with the ’19 Marlins and ’20 Giants and, in 78 career Major League plate appearances, is a .221/.284/.324 hitter. As one would expect, his work in Triple-A has been considerably better; the switch-hitting Heineman carries a .283/.350/.413 batting line in 1163 plate appearances.
Defensively, Heineman ought to provide the Bucs with a solid glove. He’s nabbed 38% of runners who’ve attempted to steal against him in his professional career, and Baseball Prospectus credits him with above-average framing marks and average marks on blocking pitches in the dirt.
As for Knapp, the longtime Phillies backstop inked a Major League contract with the Pirates during Spring Training but simply didn’t provide the team with enough offense to keep his spot on the roster. Chances were limited — such is the life of a backup catcher — but in 35 plate appearances, Knapp slashed just .129/.229/.161. His career .210/.310/.315 line is a good bit better than that, but the Pirates will hope for more immediate production out of the well-traveled Heineman.
Pittsburgh will have a week to trade Knapp, place him on outright waivers or release him.