CHRIS SNYDER
CATCHER
Born: February 12, 1981
Height: 6′ 4″
Weight: 245
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 2nd Round, 68th Overall, 2002
How Acquired: Trade (for D.J. Carrasco, Ryan Church, Bobby Crosby)
College: University of Houston
Agent: Ryan Ware

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

The Pirates acquired Snyder from Arizona, along with SS Pedro Ciriaco, for SS Bobby Crosby, OF Ryan Church and RHP D.J. Carrasco at the 2010 trade deadline.  The Diamondbacks signed him to an extension in late 2008 that covered 2009-11, with a team option for 2012.  The contract called for salaries of $4.75M in 2010, $5.75M in 2011, and $6.75M in the option year.  The D’backs were eager to jettison what they could of Snyder’s salary, since he’d become mainly a backup to Miguel Montero.

Snyder doesn’t hit for average and strikes out a lot, but he’s had above-average power for a catcher and also draws a lot of walks, making him a solid hitter for his position.  Surprisingly, he didn’t benefit from the hitter’s park in Arizona:  He hit 37 of his 62 career HRs while with Arizona on the road and his OPS was 22 points higher away from home.  He’s an extremely slow runner.  Defensively he’s a mixed bag.  He seldom commits errors. I n fact, he had a near-record errorless streak running from 2007 to 2010.  For his career he’s thrown out 30% of base stealers, which is around average, but he originally was well above average.  His CS % has declined steadily over the last several years, reaching 24% and 23% in 2009 and 2010, respectively.  It was 26% in 2011.  He does a good job of blocking pitches.  Recent research by Baseball Prospectus suggests that Snyder has been one of the better catchers in recent years at framing pitches.

2002
A+:  258/337/456, 217 AB, 16 2B, 9 HR, 25 BB, 54 K 

Went straight to high A after the draft.  He struck out in a quarter of his ABs but had a good walk total.

2003
A+:  314/414/518, 245 AB, 16 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 35 BB, 43 K, 0-1 SB
AA:  202/286/340, 188 AB, 14 2B, 4 HR, 19 BB, 29 K

Split the season between high A and AA.  He put up big numbers in high A, although it was the California League.  Snyder struggled in AA, hitting 202/286/340.  His walk and K rates remained solid, though, so he wasn’t overwhelmed.

2004
AA:  301/389/520, 346 AB, 31 2B, 15 HR, 46 BB, 57 K, 3-4 SB
MLB:  240/327/458, 96 AB, 6 2B, 5 HR, 13 BB, 25 K 

Snyder returned to AA and had a big year.  Arizona called him up in late August and he did well.

2005
MLB:  202/297/302, 326 AB, 14 2B, 6 HR, 40 BB, 87 K, 0-1 SB

Struggled through his first full season in the majors, although at least his K:BB ratio wasn’t terrible.  He fanned in a little over a quarter of his ABs, but he’s always been a high-walk, high-strikeout hitter.

2006
MLB:  277/349/424, 184 AB, 9 2B, 6 HR, 22 BB, 39 K

Spent the season primarily as the backup to Johnny Estrada, who hit .302 in his only season in Arizona.  Snyder had a good year at the plate and threw out 45% of base stealers.

2007
MLB:  252/342/433, 326 AB, 20 2B, 13 HR, 40 BB, 67 K, 0-1 SB

Shared the catching position with Montero, getting about two-thirds of the starts.

2008
A+:  400/400/1000, 5 AB, 1 HR, 2 K
MLB:  237/348/452, 334 AB, 22 2B, 1 3B, 16 HR, 56 BB, 101 K 

Got about the same share of the playing time, although Montero was rapidly improving.  Snyder was becoming a more pronounced walks-and-HRs guy.  His K rate increased to nearly one every three ABs and his walk rate also increased.

2009
A+:  143/455/143, 7 AB, 3 BB, 3 K
AAA:  308/308/615, 13 AB, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 K
MLB:  200/333/352, 165 AB, 7 2B, 6 HR, 32 BB, 47 K 

Suffered a back injury that limited his playing time and performance.  He hit very little and lost the bulk of the PT to Montero, who had a big year.

2010
MLB (Ari):  231/352/426, 195 AB, 8 2B, 10 HR, 36 BB, 61 K
MLB (Pgh):  169/268/298, 124 AB, 1 2B, 5 HR, 16 BB, 33 K 

At the time of the trade, Snyder was having a more or less typical Snyder season while playing about 40% of the time.  The Pirates announced after the trade that he would be the team’s #1 catcher and Ryan Doumit, who was out due to a concussion at the time, would see playing time in right and at first, as well as some behind the plate.  The team had probably reached the end of its rope with Doumit’s defensive play, which deteriorated badly in 2010.  They also may have had concerns with Doumit’s repeated concussions, as well as the fact that he wasn’t hitting nearly enough to offset the poor defense.  Doumit did end up starting behind the plate about a third of the time, mainly against RHPs.  This made some sense, as Doumit was hitting RHPs very well but struggling mightily against LHPs.  Snyder’s career OPS at the time was .812 against LHPs and .687 against RHPs.  (By the end of 2011 it was .812 and .690.)  Snyder slumped badly at the plate after the trade, aside from the occasional longball, very long in some cases.  His .556 OPS of course caused the small sample size fetishists to write him off as a disaster.  He did provide major league level defense behind the plate, including a post-trade 30% CS rate that was a drastic improvement over Doumit’s 12%.

2011
MLB:  271/376/396, 96 AB, 3 2B, 3 HR, 17 BB, 23 K, 0-1 SB 

After shopping Doumit unsuccessfully in the off-season of rumors, the Pirates went into the season with Snyder and Doumit sharing the catching duties.  The arrangement worked extremely well, as both bounced back offensively and Doumit improved defensively.  It was probably a good example of the fact that very few catchers can stand up to everyday play.  Snyder didn’t hit for his usual power, but he hit for a higher average and got on base a lot.  That left him with a career high OPS+ of 114.  With the Pirates, though, nothing good can ever last.  Doumit suffered an ankle fracture at the end of May and, just over a week later, Snyder left a game with back pain.  He ended up having surgery on a herniated disk and missed the rest of the season.

Snyder’s back was too much of a question mark for the team to exercise his expensive 2012 option, so they declined it after the World Series.  They’d probably like to bring him back at much less expense.  With the team also declining Doumit’s option, and with Tony Sanchez not likely to arrive any time soon, the catching situation is wide-open.  With Mike McKenry, Jason Jaramillo and, unfortunately, Matt Pagnozzi, the Pirates are deep in catchers with good gloves and weak (or in Pagnozzi’s case, non-existent) bats.  Whether they try to bring Snyder back on a much cheaper deal remains to be seen.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Majors
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MLB.com
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
3 year/$14.25 M contract with 2012 club option (signed December 2008, avoided arbitration)

2012: $6,750,000 (club option, $750,000 buyout)
2011: $5,750,000
2010: $4,750,000
2009:$1,500,000

  • Traded on July 31st, 2010. Arizona sent $3 M to Pittsburgh as part of the trade.

2008: $1,850,000 (avoided arbitration)
2007: $400,000
2006: $341,000
2005: $318,000

PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $567,000
MiLB Debut: 2002
MLB Debut: 8/21/2004
MLB FA Eligible: 2013
Added to 40-Man: 8/18/2004
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 7.047
TRANSACTIONS
June 3, 1999: Drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 43rd round, 1290th overall pick.
June 5, 2002:
Drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2rd round, 68th overall pick; signed on June 16.
August 18, 2004: Contract purchased by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
July 31, 2010: Acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Arizona Diamondbacks along with Pedro Ciriaco and $3 M in exchange for D.J. Carrasco, Ryan Church, and Bobby Crosby.
October 31, 2011: Filed for free agency.