Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors

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

NL Central Notes: Baez, Tucker, Marshall, Santana

Javier Baez is “definitely on the radar screen” for a September call-up with the Cubs, manager Joe Maddon tells Kevin Van Valkenburg of ESPN. Van Valkenburg chronicles the lengthy and difficult season for Baez, who dealt with the painful loss of his sister, Noely, early in the year and later broke his finger sliding into second base at Triple-A. The injury “might have been the best thing that ever happened” to Baez, Triple-A manager Marty Pevey tells Van Valkenburg, as his approach was much improved after taking some time away from the game, and he looked to have made some “veteran adjustments.” Van Valkenburg’s column provides readers with an excellent, in-depth look at Baez’s journey from childhood in Bayamon, Puerto Rico to his high school days in Jacksonville, Fla., to his 2014 debut and 2015 season, all while giving a look at the personal and family struggles he’s dealt with along the way. It’s well worth a full read.

Here’s more from the NL Central…

  • Pirates top shortstop prospect Cole Tucker will miss the remainder of the season, and possibly most of next season, the Pirates told reporters, including Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter link). Tucker, the 24th overall pick in the 2014 draft, underwent surgery to repair the labrum in his right shoulder and will be sidelined for 10 to 12 months. Tucker batted .293/.322/.377 with a pair of homers and 25 steals in 73 games at Class A.
  • Reds left-hander Sean Marshall has been throwing off a mound every three days throughout the month of August and hopes to pitch again before season’s end, writes MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. Marshall had his second shoulder surgery on May 20 this year and has not taken a big league mound all season. He has, in fact, only thrown 24 1/3 innings over the entire life of the three-year, $16.5MM extension he signed prior to the 2013 campaign. Marshall tells Sheldon he’s been throwing 35 to 40 pitches per session, including curveballs, in addition to playing long toss. Marshall, a free agent at season’s end, would benefit from getting into games and displaying some form of health in the final month of the season.
  • The Brewers have already gotten a look at Domingo Santana in all three outfield positions, and manager Craig Counsell said for the time being, that’s the best way to get him regular at-bats, per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak. Moving forward, the Brewers have three corner outfielders for two spots — an issue I touched on in yesterday’s MLBTR Mailbag — but Counsell isn’t worried about a potential logjam at this time. “I don’t think we need to figure that out right now,” said Counsell of determining Santana’s long-term position. “I think what’s important is that he starts getting experience just facing big-league pitching and being in big-league games.”

Minor MLB Transactions: 8/26/15

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Pirates have outrighted right-hander Josh Wall to Triple-A, as the MLB.com transactions page reflects. Wall has indeed cleared waivers and accepted his assignment, MLBTR’s Zach Links has learned. Though he was called up recently by the Bucs, Wall never made an appearance and was designated for assignment on Friday. He does have a smattering of big league action over the last three seasons, but Wall has spent most of his time of late at Triple-A. This year, he’s worked to a 2.84 ERA with 8.8 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 (and a career-low 6.5 hits per nine) across 31 2/3 frames at Indianapolis.

NL Notes: Brewers GM, Francoeur, Braves, Urias

There’s been a good deal of speculation surrounding the Brewers‘ GM opening, and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick hears (Twitter link) two more names making their round of speculation: Braves assistant GM John Coppolella and Rays director of player personnel Matt Arnold. Coppolella has long been speculated to be Atlanta’s GM of the future, but John Hart is currently serving as the team’s president of baseball operations. Arnold has moved up from Rays pro scouting director to his current position over the past few seasons.

A few more late-night notes pertaining to the National League…

  • Jeff Francoeur is open to a return to the Phillies even in another rebuilding season, he tells MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki“I like where we’re going right now,” Francoeur explained. “Hell, we have the [fourth]-best record in the National League in the second half. At the same time, I’m not saying I’ve got to play every day, but I would want an opportunity to play if I’m playing well. I’m not saying every day, though.” A potential return for Francoeur, of course, will depend largely on the team’s impending front office decisions, which the outfielder acknowledged. Zolecki adds that he, too, hears that the Phillies pulled Francoeur back off waivers when he was claimed, adding that the Pirates were possibly the team.
  • Five young Braves prospects were injured in a bus accident in the Dominican Republic over the weekend, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes. Fortunately, most of the injuries were minor, though 18-year-old Luis Martin Severino Galvan is said to have suffered a broken leg.
  • Dodgers top prospect Julio Urias is not under consideration for a call-up in early September, manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles“He probably would not be one of the guys we see right away,” said Mattingly. However, the team hasn’t entirely ruled out the possibility of Urias — a consensus Top 5 prospect — debuting later in the month and pitching in relief, Saxon writes. Urias only turned 19 years old earlier this month, but he’s already pitching at the Double-A level, where he has a 3.03 ERA with 10.3 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 in 62 1/3 innings (12 starts).


Minor MLB Transactions: 8/25/15

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

  • Shortstop Pedro Florimon cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Triple-A Indianapolis, the Pirates announced today (on Twitter). Florimon was designated for assignment last week to clear room on the roster for right-hander Josh Wall (who has since been designated himself). The 28-year-old offers little at the plate but has speed and, more importantly, an excellent glove at shortstop. He’s played sparingly in the Majors since serving as the Twins’ primary shortstop in 2013.
  • Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets that third baseman Conor Gillaspie cleared waivers after being designated for assignment by the Angels and has been outrighted to Triple-A Salt Lake City. Gillaspie has spent the past three seasons as the White Sox’ primary option at the hot corner, but he struggled in 2015 and was designated for assignment by Chicago. The Halos claimed him, but he didn’t fare much better in Anaheim before being designated a second time. He’s slashed a combined .228/.269/.359 between the two clubs this season — a far cry from the .265/.322/.404 line he compiled in 2013-14.

Quick Hits: Marlins, Parra, Pederson

Ichiro Suzuki earned $400K in bonus money for reaching the 300-plate appearance threshold last week. As per the terms of Suzuki’s one-year, $2MM deal with the Marlins, Suzuki will earn an additional $400K for every 50 PA past 300, up to 600 plate appearances. Between Marcell Ozuna‘s demotion and injuries to Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, Suzuki has seen quite a bit more playing time than expected this season. With 332 PA after today’s action, Ichiro looks well on his way to adding at least another $800K to his 2015 salary, though he could lose some at-bats to younger outfielders once the rosters expand. Here’s more from around the league as we wrap up the weekend…

  • The Marlins are considering lowering the walls and bringing in the fences at Marlins Park, team president David Samson tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.  The stadium has finished at or near the bottom of the Park Factor home run rankings since opening in 2012.
  • The Reds placed Manny Parra on the DL today with bicep tendinitis in his left shoulder, the third time the southpaw has hit the DL this season.  John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter) thought that Parra would be a good trade candidate for the Reds, but that’s now an impossibility with him on the DL until at least September 4th.  Parra has been solid when healthy, posting a 3.24 ERA and 3-to-1 K/BB rate over 25 innings and pitching well against both left-handed and right-handed batters.  He drew some trade interest prior to the July 31 deadline though that buzz was scuttled by an earlier DL stint.
  • Joc Pederson has lost his job as the Dodgers‘ everyday center fielder, manager Don Mattingly told reporters (including ESPN’s Mark Saxon).  Enrique Hernandez will take over in center for the time being.  Pederson enjoyed a huge start to his rookie season but has been in a protracted slump since early June, hitting just .168/.328/.298 with six homers over his last 259 PA.
  • In July of this year, Mike Morse went from the Marlins to the Dodgers to the Pirates.  Morse admits that he was hoping for a return to the Giants, but he’s happy with how everything turned out, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.  “If there was one place at the time I would have wanted to go, it was the Giants, not knowing that I’d get an opportunity here in Pittsburgh,” said Morse, who entered today with an .821 OPS over 25 PA as a Pirate. “Now that I see everything here, it’s awesome.”
  • Ian Kinsler wasn’t thrilled at the time of the deal that sent him from the Rangers to the Tigers, but he now tells Katie Strang of ESPN.com that the change of scenery worked out for the best.  “It’s a good place to be. There’s no hidden agenda,” Kinsler said. “The owner is all in, the [former] general manager, Dave Dombrowski, was all in. [Current] general manager Al [Avila] is the same way. There’s no difference between behind the scenes and in your face.”

NL Notes: Reyes, Duda, Young, Pirates

Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes would welcome a trade to a winning team, writes Nick Groke of the Denver Post“You come from a ballclub that was competing for a spot in the playoffs,” said Reyes. “And you come to a club in last place. You think about that.” Reyes said to Groke that winning is his top priority, particularly a this stage of his career. “I don’t want to spend the rest of my career on a last-place team,” he continued. Reyes wasn’t necessarily asking out of Colorado, adding, “We’ll see what happens here,” but he added that he doesn’t want to spend multiple years waiting on a rebuild, either.

Here’s more from the Senior Circuit…

  • Lucas Duda‘s troublesome back — a lumbar strain, to be specific — forced him to exit Friday’s game early, and Saturday the Mets placed the first baseman on the disabled list, as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo writes. The Mets are hopeful that Duda will only be sidelined for the minimum 15 days, which would mean he’d return to the club in early September. Duda will have a consultation with back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins next week. Michael Cuddyer got the start at first base last night.
  • The Mets are considering trade acquisition Eric Young Jr. as a September call-up, DiComo writes in a second piece. New York immediately optioned Young to the minors upon acquiring him, but a lack of speed and base-stealing threats on the current active roster make him a strong candidate for a September appearance. Manager Terry Collins seemed to be in favor of the idea as well. “It’s a dimension we don’t have,” said Collins, in reference to Young’s speed. “It would be very important for us to have a guy like that.”
  • The offseason additions of Francisco Cervelli and Jung Ho Kang have fueled what will likely be a third straight playoff berth for the Pirates, writes Joe Lemire in a column for USA Today. GM Neal Huntington tells Lemire that Kang has exceeded the organization’s expectations in terms of how well he’s adapted to the U.S. culture. Lemire also spoke to Huntington about Cervelli, and the GM said that his team was aggressive in is pursuit of the former Yankees catcher due to his defensive prowess. Cervelli talked with Lemire about how he improved defensively with the Yankees as well as his passion for painting and cooking, which he uses as stress relievers and refers to as “good therapy in the offseason.”

NL Central Notes: Epstein, Morse, Jimenez, Brewers

Even with salaries for top executives continuing to rise, Theo Epstein is still a long-term fit for the Cubs, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago writes. “I am committed to the Cubs and could not be happier,” says Epstein, who is signed through 2016. “As for an extension, there are a lot more important things going on right now in the organization. We just haven’t gotten around to it. I am sure we will at an appropriate time.” Epstein’s Cubs are in good position to win a Wild Card spot, and he’s in the penultimate year of a five-year, $18.5MM contract. That’s a lot for an executive, but perhaps not for one with Epstein’s track record. Andrew Friedman’s contract with the Dodgers, for example, is almost twice as large, at $35MM.

Here’s more from the NL Central:

  • Michael Morse headed from the Marlins to the Dodgers and then on to Pittsburgh in an unusual series of transactions last month, but he’s happy to be with the Pirates, Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com writes. “The Dodgers did me a great favor. They told me they had to designate me, but they said they would find a good place for me,” says Morse. “I’m happy to get an opportunity with a team headed in the right direction.” The Dodgers designated Morse for assignment after taking on his contract in the Mat Latos – Alex WoodHector Olivera trade, then shipped him to Pittsburgh in exchange for Jose Tabata. Morse is off to a good start with the Bucs, reaching base in 11 of his first 24 plate appearances.
  • The Brewers view the trade of Neal Cotts to the Twins as an indirect swap for Cesar Jimenez, tweets Tom Haudricourt of MLB.com. Milwaukee claimed Jimenez from the Phillies about half a day before dealing Cotts to Minnesota. GM Doug Melvin pointed to pointed out that Jimenez, 30, has two additional years of club control. The Brewers will at least receive cash from the Twins if not a player (tweet). The two players are actually reasonably comparable in all ways except major league experience. In 429 and 2/3 innings, Cotts has a 3.96 ERA, 8.63 K/9, and 3.96 BB/9. Jimenez isn’t too far off those rates with a 4.15 ERA, 6.27 K/9, and 3.93 BB/9 in 84 and 2/3 innings.
  • Melvin also discussed the possibility of additional waiver trades, writes Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. “My gut feeling is it’s probably tough,” says Melvin of further trading. Milwaukee has put about 20 players through waivers. In most cases, the claiming team doesn’t even engage in a trade discussion – they’re just blocking a deal to another club.

Pirates Activate Josh Harrison From DL, Designate Josh Wall

The Pirates announced today that they have reinstated Josh Harrison from the disabled list and designated right-hander Josh Wall for assignment to clear room on the active roster.

Harrison tore the UCL in his left thumb on July 6 — an injury that required surgery to correct. He’s returned to action slightly faster than the Pirates anticipated, as their initial announcement said he’d be sidelined for seven weeks. The loss of Harrison left the Pirates short-handed and contributed to the acquisition of Aramis Ramirez. Now that Harrison is back, he’ll presumably split time at third base and in right field, possibly at the expense of some playing time for Ramirez and Gregory Polanco. Given his defensive prowess and solid bat, it’d be surprising if Harrison weren’t in the lineup on an everyday basis.

Wall, 28, had his contract selected to the roster earlier this week after a 15-inning game that left Pittsburgh’s bullpen short-handed. Wall has appeared in the Majors in each of the past three seasons, totaling 13 2/3 innings, but he’s yet to pitch in the Major Leagues this season. Instead, he’s spent the year at the Triple-A level, where he owns a very strong 2.93 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 30 2/3 innings.


Pirates Designate Pedro Florimon For Assignment

The Pirates have designated shortstop Pedro Florimon for assignment in order to clear space on the roster for right-hander Josh Wall, tweets Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The move comes less than 24 hours after the 28-year-old defensive specialist delivered some late-inning heroics with a walk-off triple in the 15th inning.

Florimon has appeared in 15 games with the Buccos but received just 21 plate appearances, as much of his work has come as a defensive replacement. He logged 134 games as the Twins’ primary shortstop back in the 2013 season, hitting .221/.281/.330 with nine homers and outstanding defense, but he’s never hit consistently enough to stick in the Majors for a stretch of multiple seasons. Florimon’s batted just .095/.181/.147 in 107 plate appearances since his lone season as a regular in 2013.

Defensively speaking, Florimon is a gifted shortstop. Defensive Runs Saved pegs him at +21 in a little more than a full season’s worth of innings (1716), and UZR/150 has him at 3.6 runs above average. He also has above-average speed, having delivered positive value on the bases throughout his career, including 24 steals in 31 attempts (77.4 percent).


Pirates To Sign Travis Snider To Minors Deal

The Pirates have agreed to a minor-league deal with outfielder Travis Snider, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports on Twitter. Snider, 27, was recently released by the Orioles.

With the move, Pittsburgh brings back a player that it dealt just last winter. Snider had a breakout 2014 campaign with the Pirates, slashing .264/.338/.438. But he struggled in his time with Baltimore, hitting a disappointing .237/.318/.341 in his 236 turns at bat.

Snider’s strong work last year earned him a $2.1MM arbitration salary, though the O’s will remain on the hook for that tab (less the pro-rated portion of the league minimum salary for whatever time Snider spends in the big leagues). He comes with an additional season of control via arbitration.