The Pittsburgh Pirates have been selling off for years, and they aren’t finished yet. They have a quality catcher hitting arbitration, and now he’s out the door.
Jacob Stallings is headed to the Marlins:
Marlins close to acquiring catcher Jacob Stallings from Pirates, pending a medical review, sources tell @TheAthletic.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 29, 2021
Pirates get in addition to Zach Thompson pitching prospects Kyle Nicolas and Connor Scott for Stallings
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 29, 2021
Thompson, 28, made his debut as a swing man this past year for the Marlins, and was quite successful over his 75.0 big league innings. It’s hard to say how good he can be from here (he had become a relief prospect in the White Sox system over the past few years, saw some success, but then hit a wall at Triple-A). Might’ve been a lot of batted ball luck for him last year when you start digging in.
Nicolas and Scott are both top 25ish prospects in the Marlins’ system. Nicolas, a competitive balance pick in 2020, reached Double-A this year and pitched reasonably well at 22 in his first full pro season. Scott, the Marlins’ first rounder from 2018, hit well in a repeat of High-A this year at 22.
It’s a nice return to the Pirates for Stallings, who is about to turn 32, and is likely to be, at his best, a really good defensive (but declining) catcher over the next few years, with a bat slightly below average. Most teams would probably like to have Stallings, don’t get me wrong. But age is a factor. Then again, the main factor for the Marlins? Stallings comes with three years of arbitration control.
A stray bit of impact here is that the acquisition almost assuredly closes the door on the Marlins trying to acquire another starting-caliber catcher this offseason, and they had been viewed as one of the most likely suitors for Willson Contreras if the Cubs went the trade route. So you can take this as a positive or a negative, depending on how you wanted the Cubs to proceed. For me, I prefer the Cubs extend Contreras, but I also don’t necessarily want the market to be too thin if they decide to go the trade route. Then again, the league is so bereft of quality starting catchers right now that there will always be a market for a guy like Contreras. (Including on the Cubs for the next three to four years, please and thanks.)