Bucs acquire Stewart to serve as Martin's backup
Club to send player to be named to Yanks; McKenry designated for assignment
Catcher Chris Stewart, acquired by the Pirates from the Yankees on Monday, projects as the backup for old Bronx Bombers teammate Russell Martin.
Stewart was obtained in exchange for a player to be named. The Pirates also reached a contract agreement for 2014 with Stewart, reportedly for $1 million, to avoid salary arbitration.
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Pirates designated catcher Michael McKenry for assignment.
When the midnight ET deadline for non-tendering players passed, it was no surprise that McKenry and two others previously designated for assignment, first baseman-outfielder Garrett Jones and pitcher Kyle McPherson, were not offered 2014 contracts.
All three became free agents. The Pirates made the announcement just after the deadline passed.
Jones, eligible for salary arbitration, had been priced out of the Pirates' payroll plans. He made $4.5 million this year and would have been in line for an increase after playing 144 games with 15 homers and 51 RBIs. The 32-year-old was displaced in both his positions by the late-season acquisitions of outfielder Marlon Byrd and first baseman Justin Morneau.
So he, along with McPherson, was designated on Nov. 25, and the Pirates could not find another home for him via trade. McPherson, 23, a rotation candidate in Spring Training, had elbow problems and underwent Tommy John surgery on July 10.
McKenry, 28, batted .217 in 41 games this year. He had been with the Pirates for three years, playing in 187 games. In 2012, he reached career highs with 12 homers and 39 RBIs in 88 games.
In 109 games this year, including 97 starting assignments, Stewart batted .211 with four home runs and 25 RBIs for the Yankees. The Yankees took care of their catching needs last week by agreeing with free agent Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million deal. Backup candidates include Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and J.R. Murphy.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Stewart, who will turn 32 in February, is a .214 career hitter since his debut in 2006. A right-handed batter, he's also played for the White Sox, Rangers, Padres and Giants.
The moves left the Pirates with seven players eligible for salary arbitration: pitchers Charlie Morton, Mark Melancon and Vin Mazzaro ; first baseman Gaby Sanchez ; second baseman Neil Walker ; third baseman Pedro Alvarez and outfielder Travis Snider.