CHRIS STEWART
CATCHER
  Born: February 19, 1982
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 210
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 12th Round, 373rd Overall, 2001 (White Sox)
How Acquired:
Trade from Yankees for Kyle Haynes
College: Riverside (CA) CC
Agent: Jim Kuzmich

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

Stewart is a classic no-hit, good-glove backup catcher.  He has a very good defensive reputation:  he’s thrown out over 40% of base stealers in the minors and an above-average 33% in the majors.  He also appears to have exceptional pitch-framing abilities, based both on his reputation and on pitch framing data.  The latter shows him to be one of the best catchers in baseball at turning balls into strikes.  At the plate, he does little beyond draw the occasional walk while not striking out much.  After signing Brian McCann, the Yankees were expected to non-tender Stewart, but the Pirates reached a deal for him.

2002
R+:  278/350/354, 158 AB, 9 2B, 1 HR, 14 BB, 23 K

Stewart signed too late to play out of junior college in 2001, so the White Sox sent him to advanced rookie ball in 2002.  He held his own at the plate and showed the defensive skills he’s always had, throwing out 44% of base stealers.

2003
A+:  207/294/290, 217 AB, 8 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 27 BB, 29 K, 1-1 SB

The Sox jumped Stewart up to high A and he struggled at the plate, although he at least showed good strike zone judgment.

2004
AA:  231/299/300, 260 AB, 11 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 22 BB, 59 K, 2-6 SB
AAA:  071/188/143, 14 AB, 1 2B, 1 BB, 3 K

Stewart continued to struggle at the plate in AA, but Baseball America rated him the best defensive catcher in the Sox’ system.

2005
AA:  286/341/460, 311 AB, 21 2B, 11 HR, 24 BB, 37 K, 3-6 SB

The Sox sent Stewart back to AA and he improved dramatically at the plate, while also throwing out 52% of base stealers.  After the season, BA rated him the Sox’ #19 prospect.

2006
AAA:  265/314/393, 272 AB, 17 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 15 BB, 35 K, 3-3 SB
MLB:  000/000/000, 8 AB, 2 K

Stewart spent most of the year in AAA and retained some of his hitting improvement from the year before.  He played only briefly in a September callup.  During the off-season, the White Sox traded him to Texas.

2007
AAA:  242/294/333, 153 AB, 8 2B, 2 HR, 12 BB, 19 K, 0-2 SB
MLB:  243/300/297, 37 AB, 2 2B, 3 BB, 6 K

Stewart spent the first two+ months of the season with the Rangers as a seldom-used backup.  In mid-June they sent him to AAA, where he played only part-time.  He went back to struggling at the plate.  The Rangers outrighted Stewart to AAA after the season.

2008
AAA:  279/352/371, 272 AB, 19 2B, 2 HR, 28 BB, 38 K, 2-3 SB
MLB:  000/000/000, 3 AB, 1 K

Texas released Stewart at the end of spring training and he signed a minor league deal with the Yankees.  They called him up for two days at the end of April, then optioned him to AAA, where he spent the rest of the season.  In mid-season, the Yankees designated him for assignment, but he immediately signed a minor league deal to stay with New York.  After the season he became a free agent and signed a minor league deal with the White Sox.

2009
AAA:  280/375/341, 232 AB, 11 2B, 1 HR, 25 BB, 29 K, 1-2 SB 

In spring training, the White Sox traded Stewart to the Yankees and he spent the season with their AAA affiliate.  After the season he signed a minor league deal with the Padres.

2010
AAA:  248/337/395, 266 AB, 14 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 30 BB, 38 K, 1-1 SB
MLB:  000/000/000, 0 AB

Stewart did half the catching for the Padres’ AAA affiliate.  They called him up briefly in September when they needed a catcher and he got into two games, but didn’t get to the plate.  The Padres designated him for assignment after the season and he signed with the Giants.

2011
AAA:  221/312/274, 95 AB, 5 2B, 11 BB, 16 K, 3-4 SB
MLB:  204/283/309, 162 AB, 8 2B, 3 HR, 16 BB, 18 K 

Stewart opened in AAA, but the Giants called him up in May when Buster Posey went out for the year.  He spent the rest of the season as their #2 catcher.  Stewart didn’t do much at the plate, but he threw out 39% of base stealers.

2012
MLB:  241/292/319, 141 AB, 8 2B, 1 HR, 10 BB, 21 K, 2-2 SB

At the start of the season, the Giants traded Stewart to the Yankees and he spent the season, perhaps prophetically, as Russell Martin’s backup.

2013
MLB:  211/293/272, 294 AB, 6 2B, 4 HR, 30 BB, 49 K, 4-4 SB

Stewart made the Yankees’ roster and ended up as their principal catcher for much of the season when Francisco Cervelli got hurt.  Stewart’s hitting was almost non-existent.

2014
A+:  286/375/286, 1 BB, 1 K
AAA:  400/471/467, 15 AB, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K
MLB:  294/362/331, 136 AB, 5 2B, 12 BB, 27 K, 0-1 SB

Stewart spent the year backing up Russell Martin, although the start of his season was delayed a few weeks by minor knee surgery.  He surprised with the bat, flirting with .300 late in the year, although his average was buoyed by an unsustainable BABIP of .364.  He didn’t hit for any power.  Stewart’s defense didn’t always seem quite as good as advertised.  He threw out 23% of base stealers, compared to Russell Martin’s 39%.  He had two more passed balls than Martin in less than 40% of the playing time, although the pitchers were charged with wild pitches at a slightly lower rate than with Martin catching.  (Of course, it’s probably not fair to compare a backup catcher with Martin.)

Stewart will be eligible for arbitration for the second time, so he’ll get at least a modest raise over 2014.  As a backup catcher he’s solid, but with Martin gone he’ll probably see considerably more playing time.  The Pirates acquired Cervelli to split the time with Stewart, with Cervelli possibly slated to get the greater share, but given his injury history, Stewart could end up as the starter for lengthy stretches.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Majors
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MLB.com
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2014: $1,000,000
2013:
$515,100
2012:
 $482,500
2007: $381,000
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2002
MLB Debut: 9/6/2006
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2017
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/18/2005
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2006, 2007, 2008)
MLB Service Time: 4.091
TRANSACTIONS
June 5, 2001: Drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 12th round, 373rd overall; signed on August 18, 2001.
November 18, 2005: Contract purchased by the Chicago White Sox.
January 12, 2007: Traded by the Chicago White Sox to the Texas Rangers for John Lujan.
October 15, 2007: Outrighted to AAA by the Texas Rangers.
March 27, 2008: Released by the Texas Rangers.
April 3, 2008: Signed as a minor league free agent with the New York Yankees.
April 28, 2008: Called up by the New York Yankees.
June 30, 2008: Designated for assignment by the New York Yankees.
July 2, 2008: Became a free agent and signed as a minor league free agent with the New York Yankees.
November 3, 2008: Became a free agent.
December 16, 2008: Signed as a minor league free agent with the Chicago White Sox.
March 22, 2009: Traded by the Chicago White Sox to the New York Yankees for future considerations.
November 9, 2009: Became a free agent.
December 17, 2009: Signed as a minor league free agent with the San Diego Padres.
September 18, 2010: Called up by the San Diego Padres.
October 6, 2010: Designated for assignment by the San Diego Padres; became a free agent on October 8.
January 15, 2011: Signed as a minor league free agent with the San Francisco Giants.
May 26, 2011: Called up by the San Francisco Giants.
April 4, 2012: Traded by the San Francisco Giants to the New York Yankees for George Kontos.
December 2, 2013: Traded by the New York Yankees to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Kyle Haynes.