Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors

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

Quick Hits: Upton, Montero, Rays, Hunter, Pirates

MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince names the ten players most likely to be traded this offseason and the Braves’ Justin Upton tops the list. Castrovince feels the Braves could obtain a similar, if not better, return than they received for Jason Heyward because Upton’s powerful bat has tremendous value.

Here are the latest notes from around baseball:

  • Miguel Montero placed tenth on Castrovince’s list and Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter) wonders if the hiring of Henry Blanco will create traction for the Cubs‘ interest in the Diamondbacks’ catcher, who was a Blanco pupil in 2014. The D’Backs have reportedly spoken with the Cubs, Dodgers, and White Sox about Montero.
  • With Jose Molina gone, the Rays are working to add a backup to Ryan Hanigan, either via trade or signing. They’d like a catcher with more experience than Curt Casali and, preferably, options, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
  • More from Topkin who reports, in addition to an expected trade of Matt Joyce and/or David DeJesus, the Rays may be looking to deal from depth in reserve infielders and relievers. He identifies Logan Forsythe and Sean Rodriguez as infield trade possibilities and Brandon Gomes as a bullpen arm who could be moved.
  • It may not be “sexy,” but the Red Sox‘s pursuit of Pablo Sandoval makes perfect sense, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. The Red Sox appear to be one of the finalists for Sandoval, alongside the Padres and incumbent Giants.
  • Torii Hunter told Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press he favors the Twins among the teams with which he is considering signing. “(Twins General Manager) Terry Ryan and I have talked several times, and there’s definitely a common interest there, for sure,” the veteran said. Ten teams reportedly have interest in Hunter.
  • The Pirates could re-allocate the resources set aside for Russell Martin to pursue rotation and bullpen help, a first baseman, and/or sign some of their young core to extensions, according to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

A’s Acquire Ike Davis, Designate Andrew Brown

The A’s have acquired first baseman Ike Davis from the Pirates for international bonus slot money, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The A’s and Pirates have both tweeted confirmation of the trade, which also includes a swap of international bonus slots: the Pirates receiving the A’s first slot ($501.9K) in exchange for their third slot ($232K). The Pirates will net $269.9K in the swap of bonus slots (figures courtesy of Baseball America’s Ben Badler). To create room on the 40-man roster, the A’s have designated outfielder Andrew Brown for assignment.

Slusser tweets acquiring Davis, who was designated for assignment by the Pirates on Thursday, is a depth move and not an indication the A’s are preparing to deal any of their first basemen. The trade comes less than a week after Oakland signed Billy Butler to a three-year, $30MM free agent contract. The 40-man roster logjam at DH/first base now include the aforementioned Davis and Butler plus Brandon Moss, John Jaso, Stephen Vogt, Kyle Blanks, and Nate Freiman. With this surplus, Slusser notes the A’s now have the flexibility to make a deal if they are overwhelmed by an offer.

Davis struggled to start 2014 with just five hits, including one home run, in 30 plate appearances before being dealt by the Mets to the Pirates in April. The 27-year-old fared slightly better in Pittsburgh slashing .235/.343/.378 with ten home runs in 397 plate appearances. Davis is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $4.4MM in his second time through arbitration.

The A’s claimed Brown off waivers from the Mets on Halloween. The 30-year-old produced a .182/.245/.341 slash with the Mets in 49 plate appearances. Brown has spent parts of four MLB seasons with the Mets, Rockies and Cardinals compiling a batting line of .220/.281/.390 in 362 trips to the plate.


Minor Moves: Satin, Kensing, Romak, Orioles, Billings, Avery

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

Earlier Updates

  • The D’Backs have agreed to terms on a minor league deal and a Spring Training invite with infielder/outfielder Jamie Romak, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweeted today. The 29-year-old Romak, a client of Taurus Sports’ David Sloane, made his big league debut with the Dodgers in 2014 and collected his first hit in the Majors. The former fourth-rounder is a lifetime .258/.324/.474 hitter at Triple-A.
  • The Orioles announced the signings of infielder Paul Janish, right-hander Terry Doyle and outfielder Quincy Latimore to minor league contracts and invitations to big league Spring Training. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo was the first to tweet Janish’s agreement, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com had previously reported that the team was working on a deal with him. Janish is the only one of the bunch that comes with MLB experience; the 32-year-old defensive specialist is a career .214/.284/.288 hitter in 1206 plate appearances between the Reds and Braves.
  • The Nationals announced that they have signed right-hander Bruce Billings to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training. The 29-year-old Billings pitched four innings for the Yankees last season and split the season between the Yankees and Dodgers organizations. Overall, the veteran posted a 5.27 ERA with 6. K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 95 2/3 innings.
  • Outfielder Xavier Avery has inked a minor league deal with the Tigers and will receive a Spring Training invite as well, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. The 24-year-old Avery spent last season with the Mariners after being acquired from the Orioles in the 2013 Mike Morse trade. Avery hit .275/.344/.413 with 10 homers and 31 steals, appearing at all three outfield spots for Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate in 2014.


Pirates To Sign Radhames Liz To Major League Deal

The Pirates have signed right-hander Radhames Liz to a Major League contract, tweets ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net was the first to report that he’d been signed to a big league deal, reporting it as a two-year, $3MM contract (Twitter link).

Some may remember the hard-throwing Liz from his days with the Orioles, with whom he pitched from 2007-09. Liz ranked as a Top 100 prospect per Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, but he struggled greatly in those three seasons, pitching to a 7.50 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 6.2 BB/9 in 110 1/3 innings. Following his time with Baltimore, the Dominican hurler spent a season with the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate before heading overseas to pitch in Korea.

Liz reinvented himself as a member of the LG Twins in the Korea Baseball Organization, compiling a 3.51 ERA with 454 strikeouts against 240 walks in 518 2/3 innings over a three-year stint. Those numbers are no small feat in the hitter-friendly KBO, and Liz’s best season was his last in Korea — a 3.06 ERA with a league-leading 188 strikeouts in 202 2/3 innings.

The righty returned to pro ball in North America in 2014, notching a 2.95 ERA in 61 innings with the Blue Jays’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates. Liz was said to be mulling over multiple seven-figure offers to return to Japan or Korea, but the Pirates were able to convince him to stay, apparently with a two-year contract that comes with little financial risk.

Pittsburgh is known for revitalizing pitchers under coordinator Jim Benedict and pitching coach Ray Searage. The team has worked wonders with the likes of A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Mark Melancon, Jason Grilli, Vance Worley and Edinson Volquez in recent seasons. Liz will be the next reclamation project, it seems. He averaged nearly 94 mph on his heater back in his Orioles days and has what one scout from the Dominican Republic described to Stark as “power stuff” and a “vicious curve.”


Players Added To The 40-Man Roster

Midnight EST is the deadline for teams to add players to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from being selected in next month’s Rule 5 Draft. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com lists the notable prospects who are newly Rule 5 eligible. Of course, the decision whether or not to protect a player has as much to do with roster flexibility and his expected ability to stick on a big league roster for a full season as it does the player’s overall prospect value.

We’ll keep tabs on the day’s 40-man additions here, and you can also check Baseball America’s running updates, which includes breakdowns of the players added.

  • The Rays have yet to announce their full list of roster moves, but Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper tweets that second baseman Ryan Brett will be added to the 40-man.
  • Following their trade with the Dodgers, the Rays announced that they have added Brett (as Cooper tweeted), right-hander Matt Andriese, left-hander Grayson Garvin, outfielder Mikie Mahtook and catcher Justin O’Conner to the 40-man roster.
  • The Dodgers announced that lefty Adam Liberatore, acquired in the trade with the Rays, has been added to the 40-man roster.

Earlier Updates

  • The Astros have made one final 40-man roster move, announcing the addition of right-hander Michael Feliz. Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper was among those to express surprise that Feliz had not previously been added to the roster, with some executives telling him they’d be shocked if Feliz wasn’t the No. 1 pick in the Rule 5 Draft (Twitter link).
  • The Rangers announced that they’ve added righties Luke Jackson and Jerad Eickhoff, infielder Hanser Alberto and catcher Jorge Alfaro to the 40-man roster.

(more…)


Outrighted: Bass, Mattheus, Walters, Morel

Several players were outrighted off of 40-man rosters today to clear space for players who needed to be protected from the Rule 5 draft:

  • The Astros outrighted righty Anthony Bass, the club announced.  Bass, 27, has seen his ERA rise over each of the last four years, and he suffered in 2014 from a sudden inability to miss bats.
  • Right-handed reliever Ryan Mattheus was outrighted by the Nationals, also per the club. Mattheus has elected free agency. Though he has been effective in long stretches at times in D.C., Mattheus never regained his place in the bullpen after breaking his hand last May. The 31-year-old, out-of-options righty should certainly find a club willing to give him a chance to earn a job out of camp.
  • The Mets announced that Jeff Walters has been removed from the 40-man. A 27-year-old right-hander, Walters has yet to see MLB action. He struggled mightily in 2014, his first attempt at Triple-A, and ultimately was diagnosed with a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery.
  • The Pirates announced that infielder Brent Morel has been outrighted. Morel has seen relatively scant MLB time since a run with the White Sox in 2011. Last year, at Triple-A, he slashed .271/.335/.375 over 376 plate appearances.

Pirates Designate Ike Davis, Ramon Cabrera

The Pirates have designated first baseman Ike Davis and catcher Ramon Cabrera for assignment, the club announced.

Davis came over to Pittsburgh from the Mets after New York finally gave up on a player who was once thought to be a franchise cornerstone. Things started out well in his new home, but Davis ultimately ended up with a .235/.343/.378 slash and ten home runs over 397 plate appearances with the Bucs.

For a player who swatted 32 long balls in his age-25 season, that was obviously not what he hoped for. With Pedro Alvarez likely shifting across the diamond, there was no roster space for Davis.

Still just 27, Davis will undoubtedly get another look. But at a projected $4.4MM arbitration salary, it seems reasonably likely — though far from certain — that he will clear waivers and find his next home on the open market.

Cabrera, meanwhile, was brought into the fold on a waiver claim in August. He only had time to play 12 games in the Pittsburgh system. On the year, in total, Cabrera saw 480 plate appearances at Double-A and slashed .273/.325/.364.


Pirates Claim Pedro Florimon

The Pirates have claimed infielder Pedro Florimon off waivers from the Nationals, Washington announced today.

Florimon, 28 next month, is a switch-hitting shortstop with a questionable bat and outstanding glove. He saw the lion’s share of playing time at shortstop for a last-place Twins club in 2013 and batted .221/.281/.330, hitting a somewhat surprising nine homers and swiping 15 bases. That offense certainly isn’t much to look at, but combined with his glove, he generated 1.8 rWAR and 1.3 fWAR. Defensive Runs Saved pegs Florimon as 21 runs above average over the course of 1700 big league innings at short.


NL Notes: Liriano, Cards, D’backs, Padres, Hanley

Free agent lefty Francisco Liriano, most recently of the Pirates, is looking to land a three or four-year deal with a $12MM+ average annual value, according to a report from Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (via Twitter). That seems like a plenty reasonable starting point given Liriano’s excellent numbers over the past two seasons. While draft compensation will no doubt play a role in his free agency, MLBTR’s Steve Adams still predicts that he will land $40MM over three years.

Here are some notes out of the National League:

  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak is “increasingly aggressive and unpredictable,” says Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. That lends some credence to the notion that St. Louis could pursue a top free agent starter, says Miklasz, who documents the reasons that adding Jon Lester or even Max Scherzer could make sense. In the final analysis, though, the veteran sportswriter says he would still be shocked if the team beats the market for an ace.
  • Not only senior VP of baseball operations De Jon Watson but also GM Dave Stewart have been making the rounds internationally, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, who notes that the Diamondbacks are hoping to “make waves” in the international market. On the domestic front, Didi Gregorius is drawing the most interest on the trade market among the team’s middle infielders, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets.
  • The Padres appear to be leaning toward keeping starters Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock. San Diego can and should avoid marking down the price on that pair, in my view, as  it ought to provide a cheap source of solid rotation production over the next several years.
  • Even if the Dodgers are not internally discussing a deal to bring back Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, as was recently reported, that does not mean that the club is closing the door completely to a reunion, per a tweet from Chris Cotillo of SB Nation.

Reactions To And Fallout From Russell Martin Signing

With the Blue Jays set to introduce new catcher Russell Martin and his five-year, $82MM deal tomorrow, let’s take a look at some of the reactions and reporting from around the game:

  • Regarding other teams that were in the mix for Martin, the Cubs were “close” runners-up, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Chicago was pushing past the four-year, $65MM mark and was willing to go to five years under some scenarios, Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago tweets. The Pirates, meanwhile, were willing to go to four years, as Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports, and were involved deep into the process. And we noted earlier today that the Mariners also made a run, per MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince.
  • The Blue Jays have drawn interest in backstop Dioner Navarro, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. But the club does not feel obligated to move him, as he can still function as a backup and part-time DH. Navarro is owed $5MM this season in the second and final year of his contract.
  • ESPN.com’s Keith Law is among the fans of the deal, via Insider link, writing that Martin is probably good enough by traditional measures to justify the deal, but also shines in areas like pitch framing, staff handling, and leadership. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca likewise highlighted Martin’s multi-faceted value. Navarro is likely more useful to Toronto as a trade piece than a part-timer, Law suggests.
  • Adding Martin likely takes the Jays out of the running for Melky Cabrera, tweets ESPN.com’s Buster Olney. It does bear noting that Martin’s backloaded deal structure still seems to leave the team space to add payroll this year, and Toronto still has plenty of open spending capacity after 2015.