PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' search for a replacement catcher has begun in earnest. They have quickly learned, however, that filling the need is going to be easier said than done.
As the Pirates explore external options, they have found that teams are quick to take advantage of what they know is a desperate situation. Asking prices have been "silly" high, as manager Clint Hurdle put it, and the Pirates are wary of sacrificing the future for a short-term fit now.
"Everybody knows the situation you're in," Hurdle said. "So when you ask, we're getting some sticker shock. That's the nature of the industry. It's a shark that smells blood. They know we have a need. The [asking price] now is much greater than what it was two weeks ago."
The Pirates' need is the result of recent injuries to the top three catchers on their depth chart. Chris Snyder is out two to four months after undergoing back surgery on Friday. Ryan Doumit (left ankle sprain) is sidelined until late July, at the earliest, and Triple-A starter Jason Jaramillo is at least a few weeks away from returning to the field after being hit on the elbow with a pitch.
That has left the Pirates with the inexperienced tandem of Dusty Brown and Wyatt Toregas, who combined to play 33 Major League games heading into this season.
Toregas had a nice "get" in the first inning of Saturday's game, thwarting a steal attempt by New York speedster Jose Reyes.
Ideally, the Pirates would like to find someone to be their everyday catcher (Brown would be the backup) until Doumit and/or Snyder return.
That could come from another club's Major League team or from a Triple-A team in an organization that has substantial catching depth.
The Pirates might be eying more than a one-year fit, too. With Snyder and Doumit in the final guaranteed year of their contracts and top prospect Tony Sanchez unlikely to be Major League-ready by the start of the 2012 season, the Pirates could look to add a catcher who would remain a fit next year, too.
"You just try to be smart," Hurdle said. "We need to use some patience, too, because you want to try and find out if there is a right guy who can maintain the continuity behind the plate and maybe have one of the guys move to a backup role. I know [general manager] Neal [Huntington] is working overtime. I've been making calls. Everybody is trying to check on who's available. We remain guardedly optimistic."