Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors

Pittsburgh Pirates trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Minor Moves: Mazzaro, Sizemore, Murata, Rogers

Here are today’s minor league transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post.  All moves were announced by the teams themselves unless otherwise cited.

  • Vin Mazzaro has elected to become a free agent, according to MLB.com’s official transactions page.  The veteran righty was designated for assignment by the Marlins earlier this week and then outrighted, giving him the option of accepting the assignment or choosing free agency.  Mazzaro has a 3.75 ERA, six strikeouts and six walks over 12 relief innings for Miami this season.
  • The Rays selected the contract of Grady Sizemore prior to today’s game, and the veteran outfielder delivered three hits in his Tampa debut.  Sizemore was released by the Phillies and signed to a minor league deal by the Rays earlier this month.  In corresponding roster moves, righty Matt Andriese was sent to Triple-A and outfielder Desmond Jennings was moved to the 60-day DL.
  • The Indians purchased the contract of right-hander Toru Murata, who is making his MLB debut in a start tonight against the Orioles.  Murata was signed as a free agent out of Japan in 2010 and he owns a 3.88 ERA, 3.01 K/BB rate and 6.8 K/9 over 489 2/3 minor league innings.  In a corresponding move, the Tribe released right-hander Scott Atchison.
  • The Yankees selected the contract of righty Esmil Rogers, who was just outrighted off the roster two weeks ago.  Rogers has a 6.27 ERA over 33 bullpen innings for New York this season, though he has been hamstrung by a .356 BABIP and a very low 56% strand rate.
  • The Pirates selected the contract of utilityman Gorkys Hernandez.  Once a top-100 prospect, Hernandez appeared in 70 MLB games with the Pirates and Marlins in 2012 and hasn’t since been back to the Show.  Hernandez has a .278/.342/.376 slash line, 33 homers and 213 steals (out of 285 chances) over 4055 career minor league plate appearances.
  • The Braves selected the contract of right-hander Ryan Kelly, who is getting his first taste of the majors after nine pro seasons.  Kelly was a 26th-round draft pick for the Pirates in 2006 and he’s compiled a 3.99 ERA, 3.10 K/BB rate and 8.2 K/9 over 462 2/3 innings (mostly as a reliever).

Pirates Designate Chris Volstad For Assignment

The Pirates announced that they have designated Chris Volstad for assignment.  As reported earlier, outfielder Jose Tabata has also been bumped to make room on the 40-man roster.

Volstad, 28, was called up to the big league roster just last week and pitched two innings for the Bucs against the Reds on June 24th.  The right-hander seen substantial big league time since 2012, but he was solid in 76 Triple-A frames, putting up a 3.43 ERA with 5.9 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9.  For his career, the 6’8″ hurler owns a 4.92 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9.

As the MLBTR DFA Tracker shows, there are now five players in DFA limbo: Volstad, Tabata, Rafael Lopez, Erik Kratz, and Scott Atchison.


Pirates Designate Jose Tabata For Assignment

The Pirates have designated Jose Tabata for assignment, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (on Twitter).

The outfielder once looked like a future cornerstone player but he has fallen off in recent seasons.  Last year, Tabata’s struggles resulted in him being outrighted off the 40-man roster.  In 41 plate appearances this year, Tabata hit just .289/.341/.289.  He fared much better in Triple-A, however, slashing .352/.422/.396 with eleven walks against just eight strikeouts over 102 turns at the plate.

Tabata’s deal calls for him to earn the prorated portion of $4MM this year and $4.5MM next season under the early-career extension that he signed.  Back in May, GM Neal Huntington indicated that 2015 could have been Tabata’s final year in Pittsburgh.

As the MLBTR DFA Tracker shows, there are now four players in DFA limbo: Tabata, Rafael Lopez, Erik Kratz, and Scott Atchison.



Pitching Market Notes: Wilson, Bucs, Yankees, Dodgers

The starting pitching market is beginning to take shape around the league. Let’s have a look at the latest reports:

  • As the Angels try to remain patient with their lack of production from many lineup spots, they remain in the market for bats and “have dangled” starter C.J. Wilson, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. The Halos would also consider moving prospect arms, per the report, though the team is not interested in parting with the best of the bunch: Andrew Heaney, Sean Newcomb, and Chris Ellis. Wilson, who is playing on a $18MM salary this year and is owed $20MM for next season, has worked to a 3.92 ERA with 7.8 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 over 96 1/3 innings.
  • The Pirates are looking at both the Red Sox and Phillies as they consider adding a starter, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Pittsburgh is also interested in a first base upgrade, per the report. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported recently on the Bucs’ interest in Clay Buchholz, though he noted that it seems unlikely that Boston will deal away the righty with two reasonably-priced option years still left on his deal. Philadelphia is sending a scout to take a look at the Pirates’ Double-A affiliate, says Biertempful, who suggests that Aaron Harang could conceivably make sense to add rotation depth.
  • At least as of yesterday afternoon, the Yankees “were not on [Cole] Hamels,” Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Nevertheless, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes, New York could ultimately feel it necessary to add a high-quality arm. Sherman ticks through some options, noting that there is “nothing active ongoing with the Reds” and suggesting that Jeff Samardzija could be a prime target if the Yankees decide to pursue a starter.
  • The Dodgers had a top scout (Galen Carr, per Sherman) on hand to watch Hamels pitch at Yankee Stadium yesterday, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reported. That outing likely did not do much to commend the lefty, but obviously the club will be looking at a much broader body of work in assessing whether to move on Hamels.

Minor Moves: Gutierrez, Volstad, Wang

Here were the day’s notable minor moves:

  • The Mariners have selected the contract of former core player Franklin Gutierrez, the team announced. Fresh off a huge 2009 campaign, the outfielder signed a four-year, $20.5MM extension with Seattle. But a variety of ailments derailed his career and he provided the club with just 3.6 rWAR over the life of that deal. Gutierrez sat out the 2014 season while dealing with gastrointestinal issues, and came back on a minor league deal. Over 209 plate appearances at Triple-A this year, the 32-year-old has slashed a promising.317/.402/.500 with seven home runs and two steals.
  • Another player looking for a comeback is Pirates righty Chris Volstad, who also received a call-up today per a club announcement. The towering, 28-year-old righty has not seen substantial big league time since 2012. He’s been solid in 76 Triple-A frames, putting up a 3.43 ERA with 5.9 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9.
  • Shortly after being released by the Braves, veteran righty Chien-Ming Wang has signed with the independent league’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, the club confirmed to Mike Ashmore of MyCentralJersey.com (on Twitter). The 35-year-old owns a career 4.37 ERA over 792 1/3 big league innings, though he hasn’t reached the majors since 2013. He scuffled to a 6.10 ERA in 62 frames at the Triple-A level this year.

Draft Signings: Marshall, Hillman, Blankenhorn, Davila

It’s time to get caught up on some draft signings. Slot values courtesy of Baseball America.

  • The Giants have agreed to a well-above-slot, $750K bonus with fourth-round pick Mac Marshall, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. You might remember that Marshall was taken in the late rounds last year by the Astros, who fell short of a rumored last-minute attempt at a deal with him as they tried to work things out with Brady Aiken. Marshall had been set to play for LSU, but ultimately ended up in Junior College so that he could re-enter the draft.
  • Second-rounder Juan Hillman inked with the Indians, the club announced. The deal is for $825K, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter). Cleveland also announced several other signings, including third-rounder Mark Mathias and fourth-round pick Tyler Krieger. MLB.com rated Hillman the 52nd-best player available, noting that the prep lefty is the son of long-time big leaguer Tom Gordon and half-brother of Dee Gordon. ESPN.com’s Keith Law had the highest grade on Hillman, ranking him 31st heading into the draft on the basis of his excellent feel and command at a young age.
  • Twins third-rounder Travis Blankenhorn gets a $650K bonus, Callis tweets. The high school third baseman was taken 80th overall, which came with a $754K slot allotment. Baseball America rated Blankenhorn 75th on its board, citing his athleticism, nice swing, and overall solid tools. Minnesota also added fourth-round pick Trey Cabbage for an above-slot $760K bonus, also per a Callis tweet. His signing was previously reported, but not the bonus amount, which lands well above the slot value of $517,900.
  • The Royals went over $300K above slot ($431,100) to sign high school lefty Garrett Davila, Callis tweets. He receives a $746K bonus after entering the draft rated within Law’s top 100 list. His fastball is not a very impressive offerin at present, but he has an above-average curve and still has some growing to do.
  • Javier Medina, the third-round pick of the Rockies, gets $740K to forego his commitment to the University of Arizona, Callis reports on Twitter. The 77th overall pick came with a $789,700 allotment, so Colorado will pick up some savings to add a pitcher who shows more feel than pure stuff, per Baseball America.
  • Pirates third-round selection Casey Hughston lands a $700K bonus that lands $107,300 above the slot value, per Callis (via Twitter). The Alabama outfielder has good all-around tools in addition to plus raw power, MLB.com wrote in raking him 95th among available players. Pittsburgh fourth-rounder Jacob Taylor, a righty from Pearl River Community College, has agreed to a $500K bonus, Callis tweets. That represents a $60.6K bump over the slot value for the 127th overall pick.
  • The third-round pick of the Tigers, Dallas Baptist pitcher Drew Smith, announced that he has signed (h/t to MLB.com’s Jason Beck). Callis reports on Twitter that the live-armed college righty will take home the slot value of $575,800.
  • The Braves have agreed to a $550K deal with third-round pick Anthony Guardado, Callis tweets. That signing saves the club $106,300 against the slot value of the 89th pick. Callis calls the high school righty a true pop-up prospect, and indeed he did not receive much pre-draft attention.
  • Fourth round pick Demi Orimoloye will sign for a $450K bonus, according to Callis (on Twitter), just shy of the $456,600 allotment for the 121st pick. The Canadian outfielder (who was born in Nigeria) drew rave reviews from BA, which rated him 41st heading into the draft based upon his loud tools and tall ceiling. There’s a lot of polishing that needs to be done, it seems, but Orimoloye looks to be a nice risk for the Brewers at this price tag.
  • Phillies fifth-round pick Bailey Falter, a projectable lefty, gets an above-slot $420K bonus, Callis tweets. Philly took him 144th overall, which came with a $373,100 slot value.
  • The 11th-round pick of the Mets, lefty Jake Simon, has agreed to a $400K bonus, Callis tweets. $300K of that money will count against New York’s overall pool, as any amount over $100K does for players taken after the tenth round.

Draft Signings: Staumont, Finley, Jones, Kramer, Perkins

Here are the day’s significant draft signings of less than $1MM, with slot values via Baseball America. All signing links to Twitter.

  • Royals second-rounder Josh Staumont will receive the 64th selection’s full $964,600 slot value, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com reports. The MLB.com prospect team was highest among evaluators on Staumont, listing the collegiate righty as the 65th-best player available and crediting his top-of-class arm strength. Though he has issues with hitting the zone, Staumont has flashed enough easy velocity and promise with his secondary offerings to have a lofty ceiling.
  • The Yankees will pay third-round choice Drew Finley an above-slot $950K bonus, Mayo reports. That’s $323,400 above the 92nd pick’s alloted pool space. ESPN.com’s Keith Law likes Finley quite a bit, explaining that the prep righty combines the projection and control to profile as a future starter. New York also agreed to an at-slot $456,800 payday for fourth-round choice Jeff Hendrix, also via Mayo.
  • The Angels have agreed to an above-slot bonus for second-rounder Jahmai Jones, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. The precise bonus value remains unreported, but Jones was taken with the 70th pick in the draft, which had a $880K allocation. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs listed the high schooler as the 50th player on his board, crediting his advanced bat and solid power. The question is whether Jones can play an up-the-middle position defensively, but McDaniel says there is enough of a track record to suggest he can. Los Angeles has also agreed to a slot-value, $548,600 bonus for third-rounder Grayson Long, according to Mike DiGiovanna of MLB.com.
  • Pirates second-rounder Kevin Kramer will take home a $850K bonus, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com. The team will save $144,800 against the pool space afforded by the 62nd overall selection. Law had the highest rating on the UCLA shorstop among pundits, calling him the 71st-best prospect and praising his overall skillset (while noting long-term questions about Kramer’s ability to stick at short and general lack of impact tools).
  • The Nationals have reached agreement with high school outfielder Blake Perkins, who May says took home a $800K bonus, $93,100 under his slot value at 69th overall. Bryan Webb tweeted this morning that a deal was done. Only Law placed Perkins within his top-100 draft prospects, with Baseball America explaining that he has five-tool potential but has plenty of development ahead of him. Fourth-rounder Mariano Rivera Jr. has agreed to a slot-value ($410,700) bonus, also per Mayo. (You might remember his father, who had a lengthy MLB career for some good clubs.)
  • The Diamondbacks announced a host of signings, including third-rounder Taylor Clarke, fourth-round pick Breckin Williams, and fifth-rounder Ryan Burr. The 76th choice was valued at $801,900, while the 106th pick came with a $538,200 allotment, though bonuses remain unreported. Per BA, Clarke’s future may depend upon his ability to harness his change-up, as the collegiate senior has a useful fastball and well-commanded slider. bArizona will pay Burr the slot value of $403K, Mayo adds.
  • Likewise, the Mariners say they’ve formally signed a number of players to undisclosed bonuses, among them third-rounder Braden Bishop ($607,700 slot value) and fourth-round choice Dylan Thompson ($448K slot value). Bishop, a University of Washington outfielder, drew the 81st position on the MLB.com pre-draft list, which cited his big speed.
  • The Marlins went well above slot to nab eight-round choice Chris Paddack, with Callis reporting that he’ll get an even $400K. The 236th slot in the draft was worth just $173,100.
  • Athletics fourth-round pick Skye Bolt lands a $650K bonus, per Callis. That’s a nice bump up over the 128th choice’s $453,300 allotted value. MLB.com had the highest grade on the UNC outfielder, rating him 67th overall based upon Bolt’s four plus tools. The question is with the bat, which the switch-hitter has failed to show over the last two seasons.

Pirates, First-Rounder Ke’Bryan Hayes Agree To Terms

The Pirates and No. 32 overall selection Ke’Bryan Hayes have agreed to terms, Howard Chen of My FOX Houston reports (Twitter link). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (also via Twitter) that Hayes will receive the full slot value of $1,855,000.

Hayes, a high school third baseman, will forgo his commitment to Tennessee in order to try to follow in the footsteps of his father, Charlie, who spent parts of 14 seasons playing in the Majors (including one season with the Pirates). Heading into the draft, the younger Hayes was most aggressively ranked by Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs and Keith Law of ESPN, both of whom placed him 24th among 2015 draft prospects. Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com ranked Hayes 44th on their Top 200 list, and Hayes placed 57th on Baseball America’s Top 500.

McDaniel notes that Hayes enjoyed a big spring and could develop into an everyday third baseman based on his promising tools, the strongest of which is a 65-grade arm (on the 20-80 scale). McDaniel projects average-or-better ratings across the board for Hayes’ tools, with the exception of speed. Law calls Hayes a “premium defender at third base with an outstanding approach and swing.” He adds that Hayes has an atypically high floor for a high school hitter. MLB.com notes that he lacks some first-step quickness and speed on the bases. BA notes that while he worked himself into great shape and a legitimate third base prospect, he’ll have to be careful with his conditioning to avoid moving to first base, where his bat wouldn’t play as well. BA lauds Hayes’ “excellent” work ethic and great feel for the game, adding that he’s one of the safest prep bats in this year’s class.

Chen spoke to both father and son about the draft and what it means to the pair. “Whenever I got that phone call, a burden just flew off my chest,” Ke’Bryan told Chen. “…The Pirates are a good baseball club and history shows it. Just to be able to wear the same major league ballclub team that my dad wore is really special and hopefully, I can get up there to the major leagues.”

With this agreement, the Bucs have both of their top picks locked in. Fellow first-rounder Kevin Newman officially signed yesterday, and a team announcement regarding Hayes — who was selected with the compensation pick awarded to Pittsburgh after losing Russell Martin to free agency — should follow in the near future.


Pirates Sign First-Rounder Kevin Newman

5:49pm: The exact bonus is $2.175MM, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo tweets.

4:03pm: MLB.com’s Adam Berry reports that Newman’s bonus is less than $100K below slot value (Twitter link).

JUNE 15, 2:17pm: The Pirates have officially announced the signing of Newman.

JUNE 14: The Pirates have reached an agreement to sign first-round draft pick Kevin Newman, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link), to a contract worth close to the $2.273MM slot value tied to the 19th overall pick (slot info courtesy of Baseball America).  An official announcement from the team should come tomorrow, per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter), probably once Newman passes his physical.

Newman, 21, is a shortstop from the University of Arizona.  ESPN’s Keith Law rated Newman as the second-best prospect in the draft on his board, describing him as “a surefire shortstop with tremendous feel to hit.”  Other draft outlets weren’t quite as bullish, as Newman was ranked 20th on Fangraphs’ list and 29th by both MLB.com and Baseball America.  While Newman’s contact-hitting approach at the plate is noted at all, his ability to generate much power is still a question mark.  His long-term future at short is also up for debate; some observers (like Law) feel Newman can handle the position at the MLB level, while others have mixed feelings about his range and arm strength.


Quick Hits: Astros, Huntington, Reds, Nola

Collin McHugh‘s recent struggles have only sharpened the Astros‘ need for starting pitching help, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes.  McHugh has a 7.77 ERA over his last four starts, leaving ace Dallas Keuchel as the only truly reliable rotation option, as it’s asking a lot of rookies Lance McCullers and Vincent Velasquez to immediately help carry a playoff-contending team (though McCullers has been outstanding in six starts.)  Here’s some more from around baseball as we head into the new week…

  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington tells David Manel of the Bucs Dugout blog that the club will again “walk that balance between now and the future” in making any deadline additions.  “We want to do everything we can to put this club in a position to make the playoffs this year, win a World Series this year. At the same time, we want to be able to be in that position as many years in the future as we can,” Huntington said.  Pittsburgh will face a lot of competition in making deals only a few teams are truly out of the race at this point; as Huntington puts it, “this is absolutely a sellers market, at this point in time.”
  • The rising costs of youth baseball has led to fewer young athletes choosing the game, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes.  The Pirates value having versatile players who are able to play multiple positions, and the best fits for this model are those who played baseball and other sports growing up, so they have a larger athletic toolbox.  With more youngsters specializing only in one sport growing up, however, these well-rounded athletes are harder to find.
  • Despite the Reds‘ struggles, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer doesn’t think manager Bryan Price’s job is in jeopardy.  “It would be hard and foolish to fire Bryan Price given all the injuries” the Reds have had to deal with, Fay writes.
  • Most scouts feel that the Reds wouldn’t trade Aroldis Chapman “if push came to shove” and they became deadline sellers, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports.  There hasn’t been any indication that the Reds are willing to deal Chapman, though his name has at least been floated in talks with the Nationals.
  • Also from Cafardo, some scouts following the Reds have mentioned Brandon Phillips, but while he’s having a good season, Cafardo feels the second baseman’s large contract is still a deterrent to a trade.
  • The Padres, White Sox and Indians are three of the many clubs still relatively close to a postseason spot but unsure if they’ll be able to make a legitimate run, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (Insider subscription required).  San Diego’s situation is particularly tricky given their major winter expenditures and rival evaluators doubt that the Padres would engage in any major sell-off if they continue to struggle.
  • Top Phillies pitching prospect Aaron Nola has been promoted to Triple-A, the club announced earlier today.  Nola, the seventh overall pick of the 2014 draft, posted a 1.88 ERA and 6.56 K/BB rate over 76 2/3 innings at Double-A this season, with the only minor red flag being a middling 6.9 K/9.  At this point, Nola seems well on pace to earn a promotion to the Show late this season.