Rangers Acquire Austin Hedges from Pirates

Rangers Austin Hedges
(Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images)

With mere minutes until the trade deadline was set to expire, the Texas Rangers acquired catcher Austin Hedges in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday afternoon. News of the deal was first reported by Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. They’ll send international bonus space to the Pirates in return, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports.

Extra Backstop

The Rangers have received excellent production from catcher Jonah Heim this year. However, Heim was recently diagnosed with a wrist injury that’ll cost him at least a few weeks. Hedges can join forces with Mitch Garver to provide the Rangers with an elite defensive option behind the plate, though he’s also one of the lightest-hitting players in the game at present. Surgery hasn’t been ruled out for Heim, and if that ultimately ends up proving necessary, the addition of some depth behind the plate will prove all the more important.

Hedges’ Season Thus Far

Hedges, who turns 31 next month, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates in the offseason. He has a .180/.237/.230 slash line. However, he has continued to rate as the sport’s premier pitch framer and one of its top four pitch blockers, per Statcast. Defensive Runs Saved pegs him at a hefty +8 this season despite logging only 507 innings behind the plate. Hedges’ 14% caught-stealing rate is a career-worst mark for him, but he owns a career 28% mark in that regard. As far as defensive-minded backstops are concerned, he’s among the best in the game.

Nowhere to Put Hedges

The Pirates, with top catching prospects Henry Davis and Endy Rodriguez both in the major leagues, simply didn’t have at-bats for Hedges going forward. Both young catchers have recently raved about the influence Hedges had on them in their short time together. His departure will now create further opportunities for that pair to continue their development at the major league level.

 

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