Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors

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

Quick Hits: Nix, Astros, Buehrle, Uehara

Every small-market team dreams of building a rotation of young, controllable arms, and Peter Gammons (in his latest piece for Gammons Daily) feels the Indians have done just that in Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer.  Salazar was signed as an undrafted high schooler and the other three were acquired in trades, giving the Tribe an enviable collection of pitchers for both their wild card push this season and to stay in contention for years to come.

Here’s some more from around the game as we head into the weekend…

  • The Astros have made little progress in negotiations with draft pick Jacob Nix and the situation between the two sides seems likely to proceed to a hearing, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports.  The MLBPA filed a grievance on Nix’s behalf after Houston withdrew an offer to the fifth-rounder that had seemingly been agreed-upon.
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow hasn’t decided whether to make his managerial search candidates known to the public, he tells Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle.
  • Mark Buehrle‘s future with the Blue Jays is discussed by several Sportsnet writers and broadcasters.  Buehrle will earn $19MM in 2015, his last year under contract, and the feeling amongst the panel is that the Jays could explore trading the veteran in order to free up payroll space.  While Buehrle still has value on the mound and as a mentor to Toronto’s young starters, that might not be worth the $19MM piece he takes out of what could be a limited Jays budget.
  • Koji Uehara will be temporarily replaced by Edward Mujica as the Red Sox closer, manager John Farrell told reporters today (including MLB.com’s Steven Petrella).  Uehara has slumped badly over his last few outings, indicating to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal that GM Ben Cherington may have erred in not dealing Uehara at the trade deadline.  Uehara is a free agent this winter and, at the very least, his struggles have eliminated any chance of the Sox extending him a qualifying offer.
  • Right-hander John Holdzkom began his season in independent ball and now may end it on the Pirates‘ Major League roster.  Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper looks at Holdzkom’s seven-year journey through the minors that finally led to his Major League debut last Tuesday.

Pirates Designate Chris McGuiness

The Pirates have designated first baseman Chris McGuiness for assignment, the club announced.  The move creates a 40-man roster spot for right-hander John Holdzkom, whose contract was selected last night.

McGuiness was originally acquired by the Bucs from the Rangers last December in exchange for righty Miles Mikolas.  He didn’t see any action at the big league level for Pittsburgh this season and hit .264/.358/.412 with nine homers in 489 PA for Triple-A Indianapolis.  Originally drafted in the 13th round of the 2009 draft by the Red Sox, McGuiness has an .801 OPS over 2438 career PA in the minors.  The 26-year-old made his Major League debut in June 2013, appearing in 10 games with Texas.

McGuiness joins Mike Carp (Rangers), Bruce Chen (Royals), Rich Hill (Yankees) and Sergio Santos (Blue Jays) in DFA limbo, according to MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.


Quick Hits: Orioles, Athletics, Brewers, Pirates

The Orioles made two trades last night, adding infielder Kelly Johnson and outfielder Alejandro De Aza, and any trade involving big-leaguers has an effect on not only a team’s 25-man roster, but its clubhouse. Via Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, manager Buck Showalter provides an interesting look into how trades affect players who aren’t being dealt. Showalter says, for example, that following the acquisition of De Aza, he spoke to Delmon Young and other players about what the trade meant for them. “It’s unknown that drives players crazy and you want them to understand things,” says Showalter. “I had a real good idea what they were going to say. They’re usually pretty short conversations, but you have them nonetheless.” Here’s more from around the big leagues.

  • The Athletics‘ trade for Adam Dunn might not have been needed had they not traded Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox in the Jon Lester deal, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports opines. Oakland’s offense has struggled since the trade, and while Cespedes’ departure isn’t entirely to blame (there have been slumps and injuries throughout the Athletics lineup), it hasn’t helped.
  • In the wake of the Brewers‘ acquisition of Jonathan Broxton today, Rosenthal notes (via Twitter) that Milwaukee also went after David Price last month. Talks with the Rays did not progress very far, however, because the Brewers were unwilling to give up top young pitcher Jimmy Nelson.
  • The Pirates appear unlikely to make any trades today, David Manel of Bucs Dugout writes. “It’s been a lower percentage of successful claims than ever before,” says GM Neal Huntington. “You expect the American League guys not to make it through the American League. But there have been some guys in the National League that have been claimed before they’ve gotten to us, which has been a bit of a surprise.”


NL Notes: Pirates, Phillies, Marlins

Throughout the Pirates organization, the first base position has become the home of players who have struggled at other positions, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Of course, it’s not unusual for players at more demanding defensive positions to have to move to first base, but what’s distinctive about the Pirates’ case is the precise reasons players are moving to first. At the big league level, Pedro Alvarez is moving across the diamond because of inexplicable problems making routine throws to first. And in the minors, Stetson Allie moved to first (with a stop at third base) after flaming out as a pitcher, while catcher Tony Sanchez has experimented with the position after troubles throwing out basestealers. The Pirates’ future at first base, though, might belong to another prospect, Josh Bell, who’s learning the position for a more straightforward reason — with Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco set to man the Pirates’ outfield for the next several years, there might not be room for Bell there. Here’s more from the National League.


East Notes: Castillo, Herrera, Gillick

New Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo will make his minor league debut tomorrow, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. Castillo, who has not played in an official game since 2012, will debut in the Gulf Coast League. The minor league season is, of course, almost at an end — the GCL Red Sox have a three-game series against the Yankees in the GCL finals. Britton notes that Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket are both also headed to their league playoffs, so Castillo could soon head to one of those affiliates, possibly making his way to the Majors later this year. Here’s more from the East divisions.

  • Second baseman Dilson Herrera made his big-league debut with the Mets last night and went 0-for-3 with an error. “To be honest, it was a little bit of nerves going into the first inning, but after that it was fine,” said Herrera, via MetsBlog. “I felt good the rest of the night.” Herrera has made great strides since the Mets acquired him from the Pirates with Vic Black in the Marlon Byrd trade last year, and after a half-season breakout at Double-A Binghamton, he now looks like a top prospect. The Pirates paid heavily for Byrd, but he did hit .318/.357/.486 down the stretch for them, also hitting a homer in the Bucs’ win in the Wild Card game against the Reds.
  • Highly regarded former big-league GM Pat Gillick is now the Phillies‘ interim team president as David Montgomery takes a medical leave of absence, but GM Ruben Amaro says team operations will be “status quo,” Jake Kaplan of the Daily News writes. Gillick was the Phillies’ GM when they won the World Series in 2008, but Amaro says Gillick’s current duties will only be temporary.

Minor Moves: Wilking Rodriguez, Tommy Field

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • Not long after inking him to a minor league deal, the Yankees have released righty Wilking Rodriguez, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. Rodriguez, 24, had solid minor league numbers with the Royals, but was set loose when the club acquired Josh Willingham and needed a 40-man spot. He did not make an appearance in the New York system.
  • Days after being designated for assignment by the Pirates, infielder Tommy Field has been outrighted to Triple-A, according to the International League transactions page. Field was claimed by Pittsburgh from the Angles on August 10. On the year, he owns a .286/.357/.428 slash over 387 Triple-A plate appearances.

Royals Claim Jayson Nix From Pirates

The Royals have claimed infielder Jayson Nix off waivers from the Pirates, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. Nix was designated for assignment by Pittsburgh on Monday.

Nix, 31, has bounced around a good deal this year, and will now join his fourth organization on the season. He brings plenty of positional versatility to the table, though his lifetime .214/.284/.347 triple-slash does not give much reason for significant expectations. On the year, Nix has slashed .133/.188/.173 in 82 big league plate appearances.

Kansas City will look to make use of Nix as a part of its September roster expansion plan, as McCullough tweets that the team may not even activate him until after the end of the month.


Pirates Designate Jayson Nix For Assignment

The Pirates announced that they have designated infielder Jayson Nix for assignment in order to clear roster space for Jose Tabata.

The 31-year-old Nix appeared in 16 games for the Pirates this season but totaled just 39 plate appearances and batted just .111/.158/.111. In 82 combined plate appearances between the Pirates and Phillies, he’s batted .133/.188/.173. While those numbers aren’t exactly enticing, Nix does have a 12-homer and a 14-homer season under his belt, and he’s posted double-digit stolen base totals twice as well.

Overall, Nix is a lifetime .214/.284/.347 hitter in 1456 Major League plate appearances between the Rockies, White Sox, Indians, Blue Jays, Yankees, Rays, Phillies and Pirates. He has experience at second base, shortstop, third base and both outfield corners, though his outfield work has been fairly limited.

Tabata’s recall was first reported earlier today along with the news that the Pirates will briefly demote top prospect Gregory Polanco to Triple-A. Polanco is expected to rejoin the team on Sept. 1 when rosters expand and will, of course, still be eligible for postseason play. He’s in the midst of a woeful 1-for-30 slump, however, whereas Tabata has been swinging well at Triple-A Indianapolis of late, hitting .349/.404/.422 over his past 22 games.


East Links: Colon, Lobaton, Castillo, Heyward

Bartolo Colon is on revocable waivers, and while he could be of interest to a contending team in need of pitching such as the Dodgers or Angels, Marc Carig of Newsday hears that the Mets will not simply let Colon go to a claiming club in order to shed the remainder of his salary (Twitter links). The Mets feel that they can hang onto Colon and find a good trade for him in the offseason, when the remaining commitment will be just one year at $11MM.

Elsewhere in baseball’s Eastern divisions…

  • MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo runs down the Mets‘ options with Colon and lists some potential destinations, speculating that the A’s and Pirates could be under-the-radar fits. While he ultimately deems the A’s a long shot (noting that they would only place a claim to block the Angels), he does remind that the Bucs were interested in Jon Lester prior to the July 31 deadline, and the Pirates did successfully complete a waiver trade with the Mets in 2013 (Marlon Byrd and John Buck for Dilson Herrera and Vic Black).
  • Nationals trade acquisition Jose Lobaton hasn’t hit much this season, but the catcher has provided plenty of defensive value and credits one of his former teammates, James Wagner of the Washington Post writes. Lobaton says that the years he spent learning about pitch framing from Jose Molina have made perhaps the biggest impact on his game. Lobaton ranks 35th out of 91 catchers in total extra strikes added via framing, according to Baseball Prospectus. (Unsurprisingly, his former teammate Molina ranks first.)
  • Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel provides a brief scouting report on new Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo. As McDaniel notes, while Castillo added a significant amount of muscle since defecting, the extra muscle hasn’t caused his 70-grade speed to diminish. The key to Castillo’s future will be his hit and power tools. While they project to be average (think .260-.270 average and 15-20 homers), they’re volatile enough that either could swing to above-average or below-average in short order.
  • Despite repeated stories that the Marlins will not trade Giancarlo Stanton, his name has appeared in trade speculation, but Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald thinks the Red Sox should have their eyes on another NL East corner outfielder. Jason Heyward, one of the only core players on the Braves not to receive a long-term deal that extended the team’s control this offseason, would look very good in a Red Sox uniform, Lauber opines. Lauber suggests that the BoSox should look to trade a package of three young players to the Braves to land Heyward and extend him so that his prime years come with Boston. Heyward’s left-handed bat would help balance the lineup, and his elite defense is a good fit for Fenway Park’s tricky right field, he adds.

Central Notes: Polanco, Wada, Twins, Sox, Rodon

The Pirates will send top prospect Gregory Polanco back to the minor leagues today, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). However, Polanco’s demotion is likely to be relatively short-lived, as the 22-year-old could rejoin the team as soon as next Monday, when rosters expand. Polanco got off to a blazing start to his MLB career, but he’s cooled significantly since that time. He’s hitting .241/.308/.349 on the season as a whole, but he batted just .219/.276/.337 from July 1 through present day. Rosenthal tweets that Jose Tabata is expected to get the call to replace Polanco for the time being.

Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…

  • Though the Cubs have been making headlines by stockpiling high-upside young talent, the success of 33-year-old left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada is making the organization consider him as an option beyond the 2014 season, writes the Chicago Tribune’s Fred Mitchell“He is pitching very, very well. There are decisions that have to be made. He certainly has put himself in a good position,” manager Rick Renteria tells Mitchell. Wada, who signed a minor league deal this offseason, pitched to a 2.77 ERA in 113 2/3 Triple-A innings this season, and he’s continued his success in the Majors. Since being promoted, Wada has turned in an outstanding 2.56 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 37.8 percent ground-ball rate in 45 2/3 innings. Sabermetric ERA estimators FIP (3.55), xFIP (3.61) and SIERA (3.50) all feel that while he’s been a bit fortunate, he’s still been highly effective.
  • Speaking with Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Twins GM Terry Ryan clarified a comment that he made last week in which he suggested that manager Ron Gardenhire would return in 2015. Ryan explained that his comment was made off the cuff, without any consultation, and that no one’s job — including his own — was guaranteed in 2015. Twins owner Jim Pohlad did state last fall that Ryan’s job as GM was his for as long as he wanted to remain GM, but “everybody’s got a breaking point,” Ryan said to Miller. “I would never hold Jim Pohlad to that statement, because it wouldn’t be fair to him. We’re losing way too many games here for anybody to put that kind of faith in anyone.”
  • White Sox general manager Rick Hahn appeared on the Mully and Hanley show last Friday and said that his staff is pleased with the results of the 2013-14 offseason, and he expects to be active in free agency this offseason. Hahn also sang the praises of top pick Carlos Rodon, saying that he’s even more advanced than the team had anticipated, and his transition to pro ball has been nearly seamless. Hahn did downplay, to an extent, the rumors surrounding a potential September callup for Rodon: “…ultimately the decision to bring him up or not bring him up is going to be about what’s best for his long-term development. We’re going to have to be real cautious before we decide just to bring him up and run him out there in big league games this year.”