Banister returns to Pirates

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Pirates hired Jeff Banister as a special assistant, baseball operations, on Sunday.

The announcement was made by Executive Vice President, General Manager Neal Huntington.

Banister returns to the Pirates organization after spending the last four seasons as the manager of the Texas Rangers, where he compiled a 325-313 record. The 54-year-old Banister led the Rangers to back-to-back American League West Division titles in each of his first two seasons at the helm in 2015 and 2016 to become just the fourth manager to capture division crowns in each of his first two seasons as a Major League manager since the start of three-division play in 1994.

Prior to joining Texas, Banister was a member of the Pirates organization for 29 seasons. In his most recent role with the Bucs, he served as the bench coach beginning on Aug. 10, 2010 through the 2014 season.

“Jeff Banister returns to the Pirates as a valuable resource, instructor and advisor for our front office, Major League team and player development system,” Huntington said. “Jeff brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and a passion for the Pirates back to the organization. We are thrilled to add a quality person and baseball man to help an organization that he loves get better.”

Indians get Plawecki

CLEVELAND — The Indians have replenished their bare catching cupboard.

After trading top prospect Francisco Mejia and All-Star catcher Yan Gomes last year, the Indians had a void behind the plate and filled it Sunday by acquiring catcher Kevin Plawecki in a trade with the New York Mets.

The three-time defending AL champions sent right-hander Walker Lockett and infielder Sam Haggerty to New York for Plawecki, who played in 78 games — 64 starts — for the Mets last season. Plawecki batted .201 with seven homers and a career-high 30 RBIs.

The Indians were in the market for a catcher after dealing Gomes to the Washington Nationals in December.

“We’re excited to add Kevin to our major league catching mix,” said Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti. “The guy’s earned a reputation as a really good teammate, a good receiver and leads a pitching staff really well. We also believe there’s some upside with him offensively. We like his ingredients to hit and think he can be a contributing member of our major league team.”

Roberto Perez will likely be Cleveland’s regular catcher, with Plawecki backing him up. The Indians are also excited about Eric Haase, who appeared in nine games for them last season.

“Exactly how we split that playing time remains to be seen as we get into spring training,” Antonetti said. “But we felt this was an opportunity to acquire another major league catcher that could help absorb some of the burden in losing Yan. I anticipate that Roberto would get the bulk of the playing time. But again, we’ll have to see how things play out during the season.”

Plawecki spent six weeks last season on the disabled list with a broken left hand. He threw out 23 percent (16 for 70) of potential base stealers and had two four-RBI games.

The 27-year-old played at Purdue and was the Big Ten Player of the Year in 2012 before the Mets drafted him with the No. 35 overall pick.