Francisco Cervelli
Francisco Cervelli
32-Year-Old CatcherC
Pittsburgh Pirates
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Cervelli hit .259 with 12 homers and 57 RBI -- good enough to finish as 2018's ninth-best fantasy catcher. At age 33, Cervelli seems to be developing more power, as many catchers do later in their careers. He lifted his flyball rate to 41.7%. Unfortunately, he landed on the DL due to a concussion for the fourth time in two seasons, which should temper optimism about his future playing time. In past seasons, Cervelli embodied a "won't hurt you" fantasy catcher. He typically averages somewhere around .250 while perhaps sitting near double-digit homers. In OBP setups, Cervelli warrants more confidence, considering he sports a .362 career rate and hasn't dipped below a 9.0 BB% since 2014. The Pirates could ship Cervelli to hitter-friendly waters as they continue to retool their roster with the long-term picture in mind. After all, they have Elias Diaz, who as things stand now projects to steal at least a couple starts per week from Cervelli. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a three-year, $31 million extension with the Pirates in May 2016.
Healthy heading into spring
CPittsburgh Pirates
February 12, 2019
Cervelli, who will become a free agent following the 2019 season, says he's concussion-free after missing time due to multiple concussions last summer, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
Although Cervelli has a long history of injuries, he appeared in 104 games last summer -- his high-water mark since 2015. He set career highs with 12 homers and 57 RBI while leading all catchers with a .378 OBP (minimum 400 at-bats). The Pirates are expected to give the 32-year-old occasional starts at first base, not only in an effort to help keep him healthy, but also to give eventual catching successor Elias Diaz more time behind the plate. The Dodgers have reportedly shown interest in acquiring Cervelli. Given his $11.5 million salary, it wouldn't be surprising to see the 12th-year veteran moved prior to the trade deadline.
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Batting Stats
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Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2016
Since 2016vs Left .788 233 27 5 30 4 .280 .399 .389
Since 2016vs Right .730 868 85 13 91 4 .252 .359 .371
2018vs Left .803 103 11 4 16 2 .244 .388 .415
2018vs Right .811 301 28 8 41 0 .264 .375 .436
2017vs Left .677 68 6 1 11 0 .237 .338 .339
2017vs Right .722 236 25 4 20 0 .252 .343 .379
2016vs Left .888 62 10 0 3 2 .385 .484 .404
2016vs Right .663 331 32 1 30 4 .241 .356 .307
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Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2016
OPS on Road
OPS on Road
OPS on Road
OPS at Home
Since 2016Home .713 537 46 7 51 4 .247 .366 .346
Since 2016Away .770 564 66 11 70 4 .268 .369 .401
2018Home .748 206 17 5 23 2 .236 .373 .376
2018Away .869 198 22 7 34 0 .281 .384 .485
2017Home .674 142 13 2 11 0 .238 .338 .336
2017Away .744 162 18 3 20 0 .259 .346 .399
2016Home .704 189 16 0 17 2 .265 .381 .323
2016Away .694 204 26 1 16 4 .263 .373 .322
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Stat Review
How does Francisco Cervelli compare to other hitters?
This section compares his stats with all batting seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 400 plate appearances). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Cervelli has averaged 402 plate appearances with a .274/.365/.369 line and a 0.58 BB/K over the past three seasons. That's hardly exciting offense, but he's fueled by that helpful batting eye and he hasn't had a contact rate below 77.2 percent in any of those years. It's a skill set that won't harm two-catcher lineups. However, while backstops often generate more offense late in their careers, the soon-to-be 32-year-old seems like a weak bet for such a breakthrough, considering his career 50.0 percent groundball rate, which pegs him for single-digit homers most years. Injuries have piled up, including hand- and hamstring-related absences last season, but Cervelli boasts a fine reputation as a pitch framer. That should help keep him in the primary role to begin 2018.
For the eighth time in nine MLB seasons, Cervelli missed significant action after breaking his hamate bone in June. Never known for power, the catcher hit just one home run (on Sept. 22) in 393 plate appearances. Cervelli's slash line of .264/.377/.322 varied little before or after surgery. While he offers little in the way of power -- his seven homers in 2015 represent a career high -- he does hold a .280 career batting average. The backstop, who's consistently been ranked among the top pitch-framers in baseball, signed a contract extension in the summer worth $31 million for three years. He'll see as much time as his fragile body allows as one of Pittsburgh's highest paid players.
Cervelli exceeded expectations in 2015. First, and most importantly, he stayed healthy and caught a career-best 128 games. Second, he softened the blow of losing Russell Martin to free agency by slashing .295/.370/.401 with seven homers and 43 RBI. Even a .360 BABIP is offset by the fact he carries a career mark of .344 — surprisingly high for a catcher. Cervelli threw out only 22 percent (29 of 102) of would-be basestealers, but there’s no reason why he can’t put up relatively strong offensive numbers again in 2016, provided he can stay healthy. Just keep in mind that he has slugged .389 in parts of eight major league seasons, never exceeding four home runs at any level before last year.
Two weeks into the 2014 campaign, Cervelli suffered a severe right hamstring strain while attempting to beat out a groundball at first base. Given the extent of the injury, the Yankees went ahead and bypassed the 15-day DL, instead giving Cervelli a 60-day designation and recalling John Ryan Murphy to serve as the backup to Brian McCann. Cervelli didn't need much more than the 60 days, as he returned to the active roster June 17, and went on to slash .314/.386/.461 with two homers in 114 plate appearances after the All-Star break. He began experiencing painful headaches in September, a troubling sign given his history of concussion issues, but Cervelli would return to play in nine more games before the end of the year, and the Pirates, whom acquired Cervelli in November, seem to have every intent to keep him behind the plate. In fact, he is expected to be the successor to the starting role in Pittsburgh, with Russell Martin departing via free agency in the offseason. Cervelli could make for an intriguing second-catcher option in deeper leagues just based off the workload, but he's never hit more than four homers in a season as a professional.
Cervelli had a clear path to playing time with the Yankees in 2013, but the combination of a concussion and a Biogenesis-related suspension left him behind Chris Stewart in the pecking order. The Yankees will bring Cervelli back for 2014, and if he does get playing time he can put up a decent empty batting average that can help in very deep leagues. However, he will be limited to a backup role if he makes the roster out of spring training following the team's addition of Brian McCann in November.
Cervelli has had a tumultous offseason, as he's appeared on client lists for the controversial Biogenesis lab, but has denied using any banned substances. Cervelli spent much of 2012 in the minor leagues after the Yankees turned to Chris Stewart, a superior defender to Cervelli, as their backup catcher behind Russell Martin. With Martin gone, the Yankees appear to be leaning toward Cervelli's offense over Stewart's defense as the near-term starter, but what offense Cervelli does provide only might consist of some empty batting average and decent on-base skills. Cervelli's most extended major league trial saw him hit .271 with a .359 OBP and 38 RBI over 266 at bats in 2010, and he's been trending downward ever since. He also may just be keeping the seat warm for Austin Romine later on in 2013, and perhaps for the far superior hitting prospect Gary Sanchez in the 2015 range.
Cervelli is a serviceable enough backup catcher, and the Yankees like both his defense and his personality, but if Jesus Montero can demonstrate even a basic level of competence to play 20-30 games behind the plate, Cervelli is likely to be out of a job. He's unlikely to hit enough to ever be a full-time starter, but he should carve out a career as a backup somewhere.
With Jorge Posada battling injuries and demonstrating increasing defensive deficiencies, Cervelli logged over 300 plate appearances last season. He makes decent contact and was good at generating walks (.359 OBP), but his .335 slugging percentage means the Yankees are basically devoid of any power from the catching position when he's in the lineup. Posada will transition to DH in 2011, leaving Cervelli and Russell Martin to handle the bulk of the playing time behind the plate until prospects Jesus Montero and Austin Romine are ready to enter the picture.
Cervelli’s defensive prowess is rarely questioned; it’s his production with the bat in his hands that has some scouts believing he’ll top out as a reserve catcher in the bigs. He made some strides at the plate in 2009, hitting .298 with a .309 OBP in 94 at-bats with the Yankees, though he’s still almost completely devoid of home-run power. Still, his superb work behind the dish led New York to let the aging Jose Molina walk, so they may rely primarily on Cervelli as the No. 2 backstop behind Jorge Posada in 2010.
A wrist injury took away most of Cervelli's 2008 season, but he did manage to put together a .315/.432/.384 line at Double-A before getting a late-season callup to the Yankees for depth behind the plate at Triple-A. He hasn't swung the bat well enough in the minors to get fantasy owners excited about him, but Cervelli is excellent defensively and should have a future in the big leagues as a capable reserve. Jorge Posada is expected to be ready for Opening Day, so veteran Jose Molina will slot in as the team's backup catcher barring an unforeseen setback. Unless another devastating injury strikes, Cervelli will spend most of 2009 at Triple-A preparing to take over as the eventual No. 2 backstop in New York.
More Fantasy News
Remains out Sunday
CPittsburgh Pirates
September 30, 2018
Cervelli is not in the lineup Sunday against the Reds.
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On bench again Saturday
CPittsburgh Pirates
September 29, 2018
Cervelli is out of the starting lineup versus Cincinnati on Saturday.
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Day off Friday
CPittsburgh Pirates
September 28, 2018
Cervelli is not in the lineup against the Reds on Friday.
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Out of lineup Wednesday
CPittsburgh Pirates
September 26, 2018
Cervelli is not in the lineup against the Cubs on Wednesday.
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Big return Monday
CPittsburgh Pirates
September 25, 2018
Cervelli went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer against the Cubs on Monday.
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