Sustaining a knee injury on March 12, Pittsburgh Pirates’ backup catcher Chris Stewart could possibly be looking at knee surgery that would keep him out of action for quite a while. Bill Brink tweeted that surgery is “probable” after the Pirates announced that Stewart will visit Dr. James Andrews to further evaluate his knee injury.
#Pirates announce that C Chris Stewart will visit Dr. James Andrews to evaluate right knee injury. Surgery “probable.”
— Bill Brink (@BrinkPG) March 17, 2014
This turn of events has caused a fair bit of speculation about what this means for one of the Pirates’ top prospects, catcher Tony Sanchez. Adam Berry speculated that Stewart’s injury might open up the backup job for Sanchez.
Stewart injured his knee on March 12 in Fort Myers and hasn’t been able to play since. Would seem to open the backup job for Tony Sanchez. — Adam Berry (@adamdberry) March 17, 2014
On the other hand, Buster Olney is of the opinion that Sanchez should stay in the minors for one more year and suggests that the Pirates should team up with the Yankees to trade a reliever for a backup catcher.
Something else to remember: Pirates have surplus in relievers and need a catcher; the Yankees have surplus in catching and need bullpen help
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) March 17, 2014
If, as most people think, the Pirates want Sanchez to become the every day catcher once Russell Martin‘s contract expires after this year, then it makes the most sense to keep Sanchez in the minors to be able to play every day rather than sit on the bench five times a week as Martin’s backup.
Sanchez has had a very good spring so far, hitting .296/.345/.556 with two home runs and this, combined with his decent results from last September, shows that he could probably be a capable backup to Martin but, again, the biggest question is whether the Pirates want to add so much service time for Sanchez to be a backup. On the other hand, Sanchez could probably benefit from being able to watch an accomplished defensive catcher like Martin closely over an extended period of time.
What do you think the Pirates should do? Let us know in the comments!