Former Yankee Cervelli Gets Contract Extension From Pirates

This article was originally published on Outside Pitch MLB

It wasn’t too long ago when the New York Yankees organization and fan base believed that Francisco Cervelli was the catcher of the future.

And although he never lived up to the hype, there was no doubt that Cervelli was a fan favorite. Known for his energy, defensive presence and lack of batting gloves like Yankees great Jorge Posada, the native Venezuelan was the backup catcher for parts of four seasons in the Bronx, combining to hit .278 while playing behind the aforementioned Posada, Russell Martin and Brian McCann.

While Cervelli was beloved by the Yankees faithful, he never truly proved his worth in pinstripes.

After earning the starting job for the 2013 season, a foul by Rajai Davis fractured Cervelli’s right hand, thus placing him on the 60-day disabled list. While he was eligible to make it back before season’s end, the catcher was linked to the infamous Biogenesis scandal in August, which resulted in a 50 game ban.

A combination of a decently long injury history, an unwanted suspension and McCann available on the free agent market relegated Cervelli to backup duties once again.

Because he slashed .301/.370/.432 over 49 games in 2014, there was definitely a need for his services. In came the Pittsburgh Pirates, who sent left handed reliever Justin Wilson to the Big Apple in exchange for Cervelli.

Unlike the 2012 season where Chris Stewart beat out Cervelli as the Yankees backup catcher, the new Pirate was able to earn the starting gig with his new team, and relished the opportunity. Starting in a career high 130 games, he hit .295 with seven home runs, 43 runs batted in, 17 doubles, five triples and an OPS of .771. In addition, Cervelli excelled behind the plate, as he framed pitches at a high rate and led the starting rotation to a combined 3.39 earned run average.

And that success has continued into 2016. Batting in the heart of the Pirates order, the 30-year old is hitting .276 with an on-base percentage of .386 to go along with 18 RBI, four extra base hits, 11 runs scored and 21 walks.

Cervelli would have been a hot commodity on the free agent market. However, realizing that he is a true two-way backstop and a great person to have in the clubhouse, Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington did the right thing and signed him to a three-year, $31 million extension. Not only is the contract on the cheaper end when it comes to baseball deals, but the organization will have Cervelli signed until his 32nd birthday, so the production should still be there.

Sure, he never quite made it in the Bronx. But there is no doubting that Cervelli is finally getting what he deserves.

Dan Federico is the Managing Editor and Staff Writer for Outside Pitch MLB. You can follow and interact with him on Twitter or contact him via email here

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