Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors

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

NL Central Notes: Brewers, Reds, Pirates

The Brewers have been active at the trade deadline in recent seasons, but GM Doug Melvin is downplaying the impact a deadline acquisition might have, writes MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. “We’re out there, we’re going to have our ears open,” says Melvin. “But we still have to play well as a team and not to think that one acquisition makes a difference. Not many times does that acquisition make the difference without the team still continuing to play well.” Melvin’s acquisition of C.C. Sabathia in early July 2008 was exactly the sort of high-impact move GMs hope for when they make summer deals, although Melvin is obviously correct that one player can’t carry a team all by himself. McCalvy suggests that the Brewers could be in the market for right-handed relief help this summer. Here are more notes on the NL Central.

  • The Reds have struggled recently, and it’s unclear what they’ll do at the trade deadline, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon writes. If they end up buying, they’d like a hitter who can play more than one position. Injuries have hurt the Reds this season, and a number of bulky salaries in 2015 could impede their ability to upgrade. If they do decide to sell (although there does not appear to be much evidence that’s likely), they could make available a number of desirable pieces, including Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mat Latos and Mike Leake.
  • Pirates manager Clint Hurdle agrees with general manager Neal Huntington that the Bucs need to be careful trading top prospects for short-term upgrades, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. “You start talking about moving three or four prospects in your top 10, 15? That can get a little dicey,” Hurdle says. “What can help now versus hamstring you later?” Hurdle also notes, however, that the Pirates have made late-summer moves to improve their club in each of the last three seasons, getting players like Derrek Lee, Ryan Ludwick, Wandy Rodriguez, Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau. The Pirates’ biggest need this year is probably in the bullpen, and upgrading there shouldn’t necessarily cost top prospects.

West Notes: Tulo, Kemp, Kennedy, Qualls, Appel

Troy Tulowitzki, one day after his name was misspelled on a Rockies’ T-shirt giveaway, was at Yankee Stadium watching New York play Toronto. Tulowitzki flew to Philadelphia yesterday for a second opinion on his left hip flexor strain, which landed him on the disabled list, reports MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. The doctor’s visit (Harding tweets it’s for a dry needling procedure to promote healing) is in of itself routine, but Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports notes Tulowitzki being at Yankees Stadium is no accident after the spelling snafu adding the Rockies cannot be happy he is attending another team’s game while on the DL and this sort of thing can lead to an eventual trade (Twitter links). Last Sunday, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post theorized a trade would only be possible if Tulowitzki was willing to wear the label of a disloyal, bad guy. The All-Star shortstop defended his decision to go to the Yankees’ game telling the Denver Post, “I’m with my family. I wanted to see (Derek) Jeter play one more time. 

Here’s the latest out of the game’s western divisions:

  • Though he constitutes a “backup plan” for the club, the Mariners have real interest in Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, tweets Passan. Seattle envisions shifting Kemp to the DH role eventually.
  • The Yankees, meanwhile, are currently “not in” on Kemp, tweets Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. We heard earlier today the club is seeking a bat, including several potential options that profile similarly to Kemp (right-handed, power bats). Of course, those players do not come with Kemp’s $107MM in future commitments.
  • The Padres have announced right-hander Ian Kennedy, a popular name on the MLBTR pages of late, will not make his start tomorrow because of left oblique soreness, but will throw a side session either Tuesday or Wednesday, per the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Dennis Lin.
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow reiterated he is not going to trade closer Chad Qualls, tweets Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM. But, Luhnow said the team would consider dealing a starter from its MLB or Triple-A roster.
  • Last year’s number one overall draft pick, Mark Appel of the Astros, has been moved up to Double-A, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The righty struggled mightily at the High-A level, throwing in a notoriously hitter-friendly environment, but had perhaps his best outing on Thursday. “All along the plan has been to get him to Corpus Christi and have him pitch there this summer,” said Luhnow. “And we wanted to build off of some positive momentum to make that happen. We have a lot of pitchers at High-A that are deserving of opportunities higher up. I think there were things that we wanted him to accomplish at Lancaster.”
  • Appel’s promotion, as well as being rewarded with a bullpen session earlier today at Minute Maid Park, has been met with displeasure within the Astros‘ clubhouse. Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle tweets players have approached several reporters to vent and the comments have been laced with expletives (Twitter links).
  • Astros manager Bo Porter addressed the Appel uproar by telling reporters, including Ortiz, “Any time something affects your clubhouse, I think as the manager you have to handle it. I will handle it internally. It’s unfortunate that they have been put in that position.
  • Ortiz opines, via Twitter, Appel’s promotion and bullpen session add fuel to the clubhouse perception the 23-year-old is being babied. Baseball America’s Ben Badler agrees the Astros are sending the wrong message to their players, but their discontent should be over the promotion to Double-A, not the bullpen session (Twitter links).
  • The Pirates are believed to have interest in Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins, according to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Red Sox Shopping Andrew Miller; Pirates, Braves Interested

The Red Sox are willing to move southpaw reliever Andrew Miller in a trade, according to multiple reports. Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter) says that Boston is shopping the lefty, adding that the Pirates have been scouting the club for weeks and have interest in Miller. Likewise, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution hears (Twitter link) that Miller is available and reiterates that the Braves are still on him, with Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reporting that Miller is Atlanta’s “prime bullpen target.”

Miller, 29, could well be the most impactful late-inning lefty available, as I noted yesterday in a breakdown of the left-handed relief market. He owns stellar peripherals (14.5 K/9 vs. 2.8 BB/9, 51.9% groundball rate) to go along with excellent results (2.31 ERA). Unsurprisingly, ERA estimators are also a fan: Miller sports a 1.77 FIP, 1.82 xFIP, and 1.47 SIERA.

This is undoubtedly Miller’s finest season, as he has only once sported an ERA of below three earned per nine (last year) and struggled earlier in his career, when he was use a starter. But his results have steadily improved since he shifted to the pen, and Miller has plenty of value to a contending team that does not want to take on long-term commitments. He is earning just $1.9MM this year and will hit the open market following the end of the season.



Central Links: Cubs, Twins, Prospects, Sox

While the Cubs are among the most clear-cut sellers at this year’s deadline, the team may hang onto Justin Ruggiano and Luis Valbuena, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Both are enjoying solid seasons and both are controlled through 2016. While the team wants to get as much young talent in the door as possible, each provides a veteran presence to help with the club’s impending influx of young talent.

Here’s more from baseball’s Central divisions…

  • Twins GM Terry Ryan tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that it was difficult to designate Matt Guerrier for assignment, given the right-hander’s history with the club. “That’s not the way you like to see things go,” said Ryan. “He’s a class guy. He’s been a great member of this organization for about a decade.” The GM added that it’s too soon to tell if Guerrier will accept an outright assignment, but Berardino gets the impression that Guerrier’s time with the Twins organization is done.
  • Berardino also asked Ryan if he expected more moves for the Twins in the coming week after trading Kendrys Morales to Seattle for righty Stephen Pryor yesterday (Tout link). Ryan replied: “It’s always active, Mike, at this time of year. You’re going to have activity, especially if you’re in a situation that the Twins are in right now. We’re going to have active calls, whether you place them or field them, it’s going to be a little busy. … We’ve got some people here that there will be interest in.”
  • One more from Berardino, who spoke with Twins backstop Kurt Suzuki about the possibility of being traded. Suzuki says he’s not focusing on rumors circulating his name because it’s out of his control but admitted that it’s not always easy to do and can be tough for families. Berardino wonders if the Minnesota would reignite its interest in former Twin A.J. Pierzynski, should Suzuki be dealt. Minnesota made a two-year offer to Pierzynski in the offseason.
  • The Pirates sit atop Jim Callis of MLB.com’s list of five contenders that are best-positioned to make trades due to young talent. He lists Josh Bell, Austin Meadows, Harold Ramirez, Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham, Alen Hanson and Reese McGuire as appealing chips, noting that, “No contender can match the Bucs’ combination of prospect quality and quantity.” The Dodgers, Cardinals, Mariners and Royals round out Callis’ list.
  • Jim Margalus of SB Nation’s South Side Sox wonders why the White Sox (and teams around the league in general) have been so hesitant to trade within their own division and opines that this stigma shouldn’t prevent a deal sending Dayan Viciedo to the Royals, who reportedly have interest. Margalus runs down the list of previous intra-division trades and sees no catastrophes to speak of.

NL Notes: Tulowitzki, Murphy, De La Rosa, Burnett, Nationals, Marlins, Dodgers

The Rockies are not prepared to deal star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki at present (not least of which because he is on the DL), but the Mets have reached out to indicate that they would be interested if he is marketed, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. A National League executive tells Sherman that he thinks the Mets could match up well given their young pitching depth and Colorado’s need for the same. On the other hand, sources tell Sherman that the Cardinals think very highly of the star shortstop and would give up a substantial haul to add him. And of course, Sherman also notes, Tulowitzki would have a wider market given his top-tier abilities.

Here’s more from the National League:

  • Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy has drawn recent trade interest, sources tell Marc Carig of Newsday. It still seems likely that Murphy will remain in New York, however, according to Carig.
  • The Rockies could be willing to listen on current closer LaTroy Hawkins and starter Jorge De La Rosa, reports Thomas Harding of MLB.com. One team that has been connected to De La Rosa is the Orioles, though Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today that talks have not progressed given Colorado’s high asking price of top prospect Kevin Gausman. Harding says that the Rockies do have interest in other Baltimore minor leaguers, including lefty Tim Berry, rising prospect Hunter Harvey, and righties Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson.
  • The Pirates‘ interest in Phillies righty A.J. Burnett is “mild at best,” according to Heyman. And that is even before addressing the issue of Burnett’s 2015 player option, which seems likely to rise through escalators to $12.75MM. Neither the Orioles nor the Yankees appear to be interested in Burnett, Heyman adds.
  • There are varying reports coming out of Washington, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Some clubs have indicated that the Nationals are looking for a second baseman and left-handed reliever. But the Nats themselves have said that they are merely fielding inquiries from teams offering second baggers and would only look to pick up a southpaw pen piece if they can upgrade the team’s current options. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, likewise, tweets that an executive of one selling team sees the Nationals as pursuing multiple possibilities, with a particular focus on adding relief pitching.
  • The Marlins are looking to add players that will contribute this year and in the future, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. The Fish are not currently shopping their veterans, Bowden adds. In an opinion piece, Rosenthal writes that the club should trade star Giancarlo Stanton sooner rather than later to maximize its return, opining that the team is unlikely to sign him to a long-term deal.
  • The Dodgers have continued to look for additional set-up arms for the bullpen, tweets Bowden, but finding a match is complicated by the fact that three of the most obvious sellers also reside in the NL West. Meanwhile, the club has long been said to be interested in adding a starter. Given the recent struggles of Dan Haren, his spot in the rotation (rather than that of Josh Beckett) could be the one that is turned over, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports.

Padres Need To Be Overwhelmed To Trade Kennedy

The Yankees had a scout in Chicago to watch last night’s start by Ian Kennedy, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, but acquiring him might not be an easy task. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Padres would need to be overwhelmed to move the 29-year-old right-hander.

The Padres bought low on Kennedy at least season’s trade deadline — acquiring him for lefty Joe Thatcher, minor league right-hander Matt Stites and a Competitive Balance draft pick (Round B) — and it proved to be a shrewd move. In 135 1/3 innings for the Friars this season, he’s posted a 3.66 ERA (3.10 FIP) with 9.5 K/9, 2.8 BB.9 and a career-best 42.3 percent ground-ball rate. He’s affordable from a financial standpoint, as he’s earning $6.1MM this year after his second trip through arbitration this past offseason.

Kennedy is controlled through the 2015 season, and as such he could also be marketed in trades this offseason (once San Diego has a new GM in place), or the team could look to extend him as well. He serves as part of a nice trio atop the Padres’ rotation, alongside ace Andrew Cashner and breakout righty Tyson Ross. As such, it’s not surprising to hear that San Diego doesn’t feel any real urgency to move him.

The same hesitancy applies to right-hander Joaquin Benoit, Heyman adds, as the Padres “aren’t resigned” to dealing their new closer (since Huston Street was traded). Benoit is owed $8MM both this season and next, and he’s performing exceptionally well. Detroit was linked to Benoit, but they may be out of that market after landing Joakim Soria. The Pirates and Indians have also shown interest in Benoit, Heyman adds (Cleveland showed interest in Benoit this past offseason as well).

The last remaining Padre who appears likely to be traded is outfielder Chris Denorfia, Heyman writes. The 34-year-old is hitting just .238/.292/.319, but he’s displayed solid defense in right field (UZR and DRS have long liked his work on the outfield corners), and he’s a .299/.366/.443 hitter against lefties.


NL Central Links: Ramirez, Bucs, Byrd, Cubs, Cards

The next game that Aramis Ramirez plays will be the 2,000th of his Major League career, but the Brewers‘ third baseman doesn’t sound like he plans on calling it quits anytime soon. Ramirez told reporters today, including Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, that he plans to try to play another 500 games: “I’m going to go for 2,500 (games) so let’s see what happens. … I’m playing past this year, for sure. I don’t know how much longer but definitely more years.” Ramirez’s contract contains a $14MM mutual option with a $4MM buyout. Given the rarity with which mutual options are exercised, there seems to be a good chance that Ramirez could hit the open market as a free agent this winter.

Here’s more from the NL Central…

  • The Pirates are scouting the Diamondbacks‘ bullpen of late, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, who speculates that old friend Oliver Perez could be a potential target for the Bucs.
  • The Reds and Phillies remain in contact regarding a potential Marlon Byrd trade, sources tell Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio and ESPN (Twitter link). The Reds have Jay Bruce in right and Billy Hamilton in left, but their left fielders have combined to hit .242/.304/.358. Additionally, with Bruce’s slumping and Joey Votto on the disabled list, the team is short on power.
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer tells Carrie Muskat of MLB.com that Arismendy Alcantara will likely be in the lineup everyday, splitting time between second base and center field. The Cubs designated defensive specialist Darwin Barney for assignment yesterday, which should clear some playing time for the 22-year-old Alcantara.
  • Alcantara isn’t the only Cubs prospect on the rise. Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald tweets that outfielders Jorge Soler and Albert Almora have each moved up a level, with Almora heading to Double-A Tennessee and Soler reaching Triple-A Iowa.
  • David Price, who recently took in a game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that the fans of St. Louis were great and treated him well in his time there. One high-ranking AL exec tells Nightengale that if the Rays decide to move their ace, the Cardinals stand out as the most likely team to acquire him.
  • MLB.com’s Jen Langosch was among the reporters who spoke to Cardinals GM John Mozeliak yesterday. Langosch writes that the Redbirds are pursuing rotation help as the deadline approaches, but Mozeliak cautioned that no deal is imminent. Asked if the club was pursuing a top-of-the-rotation arm or some depth for the back end, Mozeliak replied that the latter was more likely.

Multiple Teams Scouting Antonio Bastardo

With multiple teams on the lookout for bullpen help, left-hander Antonio Bastardo is drawing some significant trade interest, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Sources tell Salisbury that the Royals are very interested in Bastardo, while the Tigers, Pirates and Blue Jays are all in the mix as well. All four teams have scouted each of Philadelphia’s past two games (Salisbury notes that the Tigers are also believed to be keeping an eye on Jonathan Papelbon).

The 28-year-old Bastardo makes sense as a trade chip for the Phillies, whose large commitments to veterans and willingness to include no-trade clauses and vesting options in their contracts has left them with few pieces that are both movable and desirable. Bastardo is both of those, however, as he’s owed just $2MM in 2014 and is controlled through 2015 as an arbitration eligible player. He’s also had good results this season, having compiled a 3.27 ERA with 10.8 K/9, 4.9 BB/9 and a 33.7 percent ground-ball rate. Bastardo has been effective against both left-handed hitters (.616 OPS) and right-handed hitters (.634 OPS) throughout his career.

The Reds have also been connected to Bastardo this month, and the Braves have been known to be seeking a southpaw for their bullpen as well (though the usual intra-division caveat applies). Interested teams do have some alternatives, including James Russell and Wesley Wright of the Cubs, and possibly Andrew Miller of the Red Sox.


NL Central Links: Pirates, Burnett, Cardinals, Peavy

The Pirates are not on A.J. Burnett‘s 20-team no-trade clause (as outlined by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick earlier today), and they are his preferred destination if the Phillies choose to move him, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). As I speculated in this morning’s post on his no-trade clause, however, Rosenthal notes that Burnett’s complex mutual/player option may be a deterrent for the Bucs, as Burnett could potentially be a spendy acquisition if he makes a full season’s worth of starts. Nonetheless, Pirates players are lobbying with the front office in an attempt to persuade GM Neal Huntington and his staff to reacquire their former teammate, according to Rosenthal.

Here’s more out of the NL Central…

  • Pirates president Frank Coonelly says that the team has financial flexibility to add payroll, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Whether or not that would extend to taking on Burnett’s future commitments, of course, remains to be seen.
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said last night that he expects Michael Wacha to pitch in September, but Rosenthal tweets that St. Louis is still looking for rotation upgrades. The Cardinals are exploring everything from front-line starters to back-of-the-rotation types, he says.
  • Peter Gammons reports that the Red Sox have been scouting Cardinals short-season Class-A outfielder Rowan Wick in case the Redbirds decide to make a run at Jake Peavy (Twitter link).
  • The reason that a deal sending Peavy to the Cardinals has not yet taken place, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com, is that Boston wants a prospect of some kind in return. St. Louis, meanwhile, was more interested in doing the deal primarily in exchange for taking on Peavy’s salary. Peavy is earning $14.5MM this year. (A $15MM player option would vest for 2015 if he is able to log at least 137 2/3 more innings this year, though that would appear to be quite a tall order.)

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


The Details Of A.J. Burnett’s No-Trade Clause

Earlier today, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported the teams to which Cliff Lee can be traded without his consent, and he now reports the trades to which Lee’s teammate, A.J. Burnett, can be dealt without consent (Twitter link).

Burnett has the same 20-team no-trade clause that Lee has, according to Crasnick, and the nine teams to which he can be dealt without prior approval are the Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Pirates, Reds, Royals, Nationals and Cardinals. Unlike Lee, Burnett appears to have factored personal preference into his no-trade clause more than leverage. While Lee blocked potential deals to contending clubs outside of his division, Burnett blocked deals to markets that are further away from his Maryland home. All nine teams to which Burnett can be traded are in the midwest or on the east coast, which isn’t necessarily surprising, given the strong role that geography played in his free agency decision this offseason.

Of note is a second tweet from Crasnick, in which he says the perception that Burnett and the Pirates parted on bad terms is vastly overblown. It appears that Burnett would be open to a reunion with the Bucs, for whom he excelled in 2012-13. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the Pirates are equipped to take on his remaining salary.

Per Cot’s Contracts, Burnett is owed $7.5MM in 2014 salary, with a $2.75MM deferred signing bonus payment due next January and a $3.75MM deferred signing bonus payment due next June. Additionally, Burnett will earn an extra $500K upon reaching 24 and 27 games started, and he will receive an additional $750K if he reaches 30 starts.

His complex contract also contains a $15MM mutual option ($1MM buyout) that becomes a $7.5MM player option if the team declines its half. That player option increases to $8.5MM with 24 starts, $10MM with 27 starts, $11.75MM with 30 starts and $12.75MM with 32 starts. Burnett is tied for the league lead with 21 starts, making him very likely to hit the salary and option escalators in his contract.