Pirates’ starting catcher Chris Snyder to have back surgery

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UPDATE: Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports that Snyder needs surgery and may be lost for the season.

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Coming into the season the Pirates had so much catching depth that they were desperately trying to trade Ryan Doumit rather than use him as a part-time outfielder, but now Doumit is on the disabled list with an ankle injury and starting catcher Chris Snyder has joined him on the shelf.

Snyder, who began the season on the DL with a lower back injury, is sidelined again by the same problem, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.

To make matters worse, would-be call-up Jason Jaramillo is on the DL at Triple-A with an elbow injury, which leaves minor-league veterans Dusty Brown and Wyatt Toregas to split time behind the plate in Pittsburgh for now.

Former first-round pick Tony Sanchez is the Pirates’ long-term answer at catcher, but he’s just 23 years old and not exactly dominating at Double-A with a .725 OPS in 46 games. Langosch writes that “Sanchez is not coming up … he isn’t even moving to Triple-A.” She speculates that the Pirates could claim Jake Fox off waivers after he was designated for assignment by the Orioles last week, but there are plenty of questions about how useful he can be as a catcher defensively.

Report: Rays sign Brandon Lowe to six-year, $24 million contract extension

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Rays and infielder Brandon Lowe have agreed on a six-year, $24 million contract extension. Lowe has just 58 days of service time, so this will cover his three years of pre-arbitration as well as three arbitration years.

Lowe, 24, earned a promotion to the majors in early August last year, playing mostly at second base but also logging time in both outfield corners. Through the end of the season, he hit .233/.324/.450 with six home runs and 25 RBI in 148 plate appearances. Lowe also performed well this spring, batting .359/.405/.692 with a pair of homers and 14 RBI in 39 at-bats.

MLB Pipeline rates lowe as the No. 10 prospect in the Rays’ system. He is in line to see regular starts at second base, but the Rays will certainly be keen to utilize his versatility throughout the year.