The Pirates and Marlins have finalized a trade that sends Gold Glove award-winning catcher Jacob Stallings to Miami. Pitcher Zach Thompson and prospects Kyle Nicolas and Connor Scott round out the package heading back to Pittsburgh.
The Miami Marlins today acquired C Jacob Stallings from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for RHP Zach Thompson, and minor leaguers RHP Kyle Nicolas and OF Connor Scott.— Marlins Communications (@MarlinsComms) November 29, 2021
Stallings, 31, has been a modest bat in the Pirates’ lineup for several years. This past season, he slashed .246/.335/.369 with eight home runs, an 11.5 percent walk rate, 19.9 percent strikeout rate, and 95 wRC+. Most notably, his walk rate ranked in the 82nd percentile across all qualified MLB hitters.
Although his hitting has been serviceable, Stallings’s defense is his best trait. The six-year MLB veteran posted a career-high 16.4 dWAR in 2021. In total, he tallied 2.6 fWAR, which was also the best mark of his career. His framing ranked in the 43rd percentile while his 2.0 Runs Extra Strikes finished 13th among catchers who received at least 1,500 pitches. To cap it all off, Stallings won the NL Gold Glove award.
Miami’s depth behind the dish was very slim prior to this trade. Jorge Alfaro spent 61 games at catcher last season but is expected to be traded or non-tendered this week. This would have left Nick Fortes, who caught in just seven games this past season, to headline the position.
Stallings is arbitration-eligible through 2024.
Thompson, the centerpiece of the package heading back to the Pirates, is a 28-year-old right-hander who went 3-7 with an impressive 3.14 ERA, 3.68 xERA, 21 percent strikeout rate, 8.8 percent walk rate, and .295 xwOBA through 26 games (14 starts) last year. Interestingly, he was originally drafted out of high school by the Pirates in the 48th round of the 2011 draft. Instead, he attended the University of Texas at Arlington and landed with the White Sox in the fifth round of the 2014 draft. Thompson would go on to elect free agency in 2020 before playing in an MLB game with Chicago. He signed with the Marlins prior to the 2021 season and showcased himself in Spring Training. He will earn the league minimum next year.
Nicolas, 22, was selected in the 2020 MLB Competitive Balance Round B. Through 21 games (20 starts) between High-A and Double-A this year, the Ball State Product went 6-4 with a 4.18 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and .216 OBA in addition to 12.36 K/9, 4.45 BB/9, and 1.45 HR/9.
Scott, also 22, spent all of 2021 at High-A Beloit. Through 96 games, he slashed .276/.333/.446 with 10 homers, 46 RBI, 31 walks, 92 strikeouts, and 14 stolen bases. The Henry B. Plant (FL) product was drafted with the 13th pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. He signed with the Marlins rather than honor a commitment to attend the University of Florida.