At the end of the Super Bowl, social media is always filled with baseball fans proclaiming the start of their sport’s season.
Sunday—two weeks before that annual celebration—the San Francisco Giants made an extremely smart pickup, adding backup catcher Roberto Pérez.
With fans panicking over Brock Purdy’s injury, it would have been easy to miss the tweet from Boston-based reporter Chris Cotillo, which was posted during the second quarter of Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.
A two-time Gold Glover, Pérez isn’t renowned for his offensive abilities, but he fits the backup role nicely. Like a backup point guard or backup quarterback, a backup catcher’s main job is to make sure matters run smoothly during the starter’s absence, and Pérez can certainly do that. It’s a position that typically entails making at least one start per week, and with the amount of bumps and bruises that catchers take, it's probable he’ll be called into action more frequently.
While his offensive contributions aren’t what’s kept him in the league for eight years, Pérez does occasionally show off his power. He hit 24 of his 55 career homers in 2019, a season where home run totals ballooned around the league. He didn’t hit more than eight in any other season, though he did go deep twice for the Cleveland Indians in Game 1 of the 2016 World Series.
Pérez played for Cleveland for eight seasons, then spent 2022 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he logged just 60 at-bats before injuring his hamstring. The Boston Red Sox appeared to be his primary suitor this offseason, but the 34-year-old Puerto Rican ultimately decided to head west—assuming he passes his physical, of course.
San Francisco was extremely short on catching depth behind Joey Bart before adding Pérez. Blake Sabol, who has never appeared in a Major League game, was second to Bart on the depth chart. He was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds after being selected in the Rule 5 draft. Sabol can also play the outfield.
Other options within the organization include Austin Wynns, who played in 65 games in 2022 and cleared waivers after being designated for assignment, and Ford Proctor, who can also play infield and outfield. Proctor, who went 2-for-18 with a grand slam in seven games, was outrighted off the 40-man roster in November. St. Ignatius and USF alum Robert Emery split last season between High-A Eugene and Double-A Richmond, and 2020 first round pick Patrick Bailey spent the entire 2022 season in Eugene.
Curt Casali, who backed up Buster Posey in 2021 and Bart for half of 2022 before being traded to the Seattle Mariners, signed for a second tour of duty with the Reds in December.
Coincidentally, the Philadelphia Phillies, who share a parking lot with the Philadelphia Eagles and Lincoln Financial Field, the site of Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, also made a signing during the game. They agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with utility infielder Josh Harrison during the first quarter.
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]