Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors

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

NL Central Notes: Lester, McCarthy, Cozart, Reds

The trust that Jon Lester has in Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer from their days together in Boston is singled out by Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan as the key reason why the lefty chose Wrigley Field as his next home.  Here’s some news from around the NL Central…

  • The Pirates were one of the finalists for Brandon McCarthy, MLB.com’s Tom Singer writes.  The Bucs weren’t known to be connected to McCarthy in the offseason rumor mill, though they fit as a logical contender for his services.  Even with Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett signed, Singer thinks the Pirates could still look to add starting pitching, such as re-signing Edinson Volquez.
  • Other teams feel that the Reds will look to trade Zack Cozart now that they’ve acquired Eugenio Suarez, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports (Twitter link).
  • With Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon respectively traded to the Marlins and Tigers, Reds GM Walt Jocketty told reporters (including MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon) that the team can start to explore other upgrades now that they’ve addressed their payroll concerns.  “We’re in a better position to start looking at some other possibilities to improve our club — the hitter we’re looking for and some bullpen depth,” Jocketty said.  “We’re close to where we need to be, [payroll-wise]. Now we can concentrate on filling some of the needs.”
  • In an Insider-only post, ESPN’s Keith Law looks at the Reds‘ two pitching trades and feels the team got more from Detroit than they did from Miami.  Law thinks Suarez is an improvement over Cozart and Jonathon Crawford could potentially be the Reds’ closer of the future.
  • Kyle Lohse and Yovani Gallardo are two of several prominent Brewers entering the last year of their contracts, and MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy opines that the Crew could explore trading the two starters if they think Mike Fiers or Jimmy Nelson can be viable rotation options.

Winter Meetings Rumors: Giants, Santana, Marlins, Morneau, Dodgers, Angels

Needless to say, it was a frenetic end to the Winter Meetings. Over the course of the morning, several forward-looking reports emerged. We’ll round those up here:

  • The Giants are focused on free agent starter James Shields, according to Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News (via Twitter). San Francisco is alive on both Shields and Ervin Santana, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle adds on Twitter. The club met with Shields in San Diego, as Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reported yesterday (Twitter link).
  • The Twins are still trying to land Santana, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, who adds that the GiantsRoyals, and Yankees have also expressed interest in the free agent righty.
  • The Marlins are still looking hard at the free agent and trade market for a first baseman, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter. A deal could come at any time, Spencer adds.
  • Attempts by the Marlins to deal for Justin Morneau of the Rockies have fallen apart, tweets MLB.com’s Tom Singer. He hears that Miami could rekindle talks with the Pirates regarding a Pedro Alvarez-for-Nathan Eovaldi swap.
  • Communications between the Marlins and Rockies regarding Morneau will continue, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports on Twitter, though Harding’s source says he is not sure if the potential match “has legs.”
  • The Dodgers did not make their moves as a prelude to dealing away Zack Greinke or dealing for Cole Hamels, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. Los Angeles has already done its heavy lifting with yesterday’s series of moves, says Sherman.
  • After trading away second baseman Howie Kendrick, the Angels are “open to opportunities” for additions at the position, GM Jerry Dipoto tells Mike DiGiovanna of MLB.com (Twitter link). The Halos are not interested in free agents Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew, per Dipoto. Of course, the team just added Josh Rutledge to join in-house option Grant Green in the current mix.

Pirates, Neil Walker Have Discussed Extension

The Pirates have spoken to second baseman Neil Walker about an extension, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. The negotations are not active at the present time, however, and the two sides aren’t close regarding the financial terms of a potential deal.

We would love nothing more than to have Neil Walker end his career as a Pirate,” says Bucs GM Neal Huntington. “We understand he’s a really good player. We understand the local implications and the local ties he has.”

Walker, a Pittsburgh native, had an outstanding season in 2014, hitting .271/.342/.467 in 571 plate appearances. On its face, though, an extension would seem tricky for the cost-conscious Bucs. They control Walker for the next two seasons, with Walker being projected to make $8.6MM in 2015; after those two seasons, Walker will be 31, and the Pirates are probably unlikely to be highly motivated to commit to him beyond that point. He’s already a marginal defensive second baseman and might have to move elsewhere within the next couple years, which could become a problem if his offense slips. And with his arbitration-year salaries already so high, there’s no financial reason for him to settle for a cheap long-term deal.



Pirates Acquire Antonio Bastardo

The Pirates have acquired southpaw reliever Antonio Bastardo from the Phillies in exchange for minor league left-hander Joely Rodriguez. After adding Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett to the rotation, Pittsburgh was thought to now be turning its attention to acquiring relief pitching, and now the Bucs have added a solid bullpen arm from their in-state rivals.

Bastardo has a 3.36 ERA, 2.61 K/BB and an impressive 11.6 K/9 over 216 2/3 IP with Philadelphia since 2011.  The lefty is solid against both right-handed and left-handed batters, though control is something of an issue, as Bastardo has posted a 4.6 BB/9 over the last three seasons.  Tony Watson was the only other established lefty in the Pittsburgh bullpen, so Bastardo’s addition gives the Bucs another solid late-game option against left-handed hitters.

Rodriguez posted a 4.84 ERA, 4.9 K/9 and 1.70 K/BB rate over 134 Double-A innings last season. The 23-year-old has mostly been used as a starter over his six pro seasons and has a career 4.02 ERA over 441 1/3 minor league innings.

Robert Murray was the first to report the deal, with FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal confirming that the two sides were close to an agreement. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported the trade had been finalized, with Joel Sherman of the New York Post reporting Rodriguez’s involvement. (all links to Twitter) CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury initially reported Pittsburgh’s interest in Bastardo earlier today.


AL East Rumors: O’s, Snider, Matusz, Lester

A look at the AL East..

  • The Orioles had preliminary discussions on a deal with the Pirates that would send Travis Snider to Baltimore for Brian Matusz, but there doesn’t seem to be much progress at the moment, according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington wishes he was given more opportunities to negotiate with Jon Lester in the spring, writes Jason Mastrodonato of The Springfield Republican.  Still, he says that he does not have any regrets about his bidding this winter.
  • The Blue Jays will look at short-term free agent options – meaning deals of 1-3 years in length – at second base, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.  Alternatively, GM Alex Anthopoulos could stay put and spend on relief instead.

Pirates Interested In Antonio Bastardo

The market for Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo is heating up, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com (via Twitter).  A source tells Salisbury that the Pirates are among the teams pursuing him.

Late last night, CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam reported that the Red Sox explored a deal with the Phillies that would have swapped Bastardo for prospect Sean Coyle.  Bastardo has a 3.36 ERA, 2.61 K/BB rate and an 11.6 K/9 in 216 2/3 IP out of the Philadelphia bullpen over the last four seasons. He’s been almost as equally effective against right-handed batters (holding them to a career .664 OPS) as he has against left-handed batters (career .621 OPS), though control has been an issue, as evidenced by his career 4.3 BB/9.


NL Central Rumors: Pirates, Lynn, Neshek, Reynolds

The Pirates seem willing to spend on relievers, as Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes.  “We have typically stayed away from large dollars in the bullpen,” Huntington said. “That said, we are evolving as a organization. We’ve got a little more to spend now. For the right guy, we can go a little bit beyond our comfort zone.”  More out of the NL Central..

  • There’s mutual interest between the Cardinals and Lance Lynn in discussing an extension this winter, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  Yesterday, GM John Mozeliak inferred that he had a chat with someone from Excel Sports Management about Lynn.
  • Pat Neshek signed with the Astros earlier today, but he nearly joined the Pirates, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (via Twitter).  The reliever was about to join the Bucs, but Houston upped their offer at the last second.  Neshek had eight two-year offers in front of him.
  • The Cardinals are not only interested in Rickie Weeks, they’re also looking at another ex-Brewer in Mark Reynolds, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter).  Reynolds, 31, hit .196/.287/.394 with 22 homers last season.
  • The Cardinals aren’t necessarily looking for a platoon partner to pair with Matt Adams, writes Goold.  “I believe we saw Matt Adams put together some fantastic at-bats against lefties in big situations,” manager Mike Matheny said Tuesday. “We can’t get too far away from the fact that this kid is still not really long into his career. Lumping him into this idea that he can’t hit lefthanded pitching isn’t really fair right now.

NL Notes: Hahn, Cardinals, Pirates, Phillies

The Padres would be willing to trade pitcher Jesse Hahn in order to add a hitter, Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown tweets. Hahn, 25, had a relatively promising rookie season with the Padres in 2014, posting a 3.07 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 73 1/3 innings, most of them in the starting rotation. Hahn also got plenty of ground ball outs in his rookie season and got impressive results with his changeup. While he likely wouldn’t lure a top hitter on his own, he would certainly have appeal for most potential trading partners. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • The Cardinals are looking for a right-handed first base option to pair with Matt Adams, but there’s a chance they might find that option within the organization, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com writes. One possibility would be to use Stephen Piscotty, a third baseman and the Cards’ top prospect. Xavier Scruggs, who hit .286/.370/.494 for Triple-A Memphis last season, is another possibility.
  • The Pirates lost Russell Martin earlier this offseason, but they’re currently satisfied with newly acquired Francisco Cervelli along with Chris Stewart at catcher, MLB.com’s Tom Singer writes. “Francisco was an aggressive get for us. We feel very comfortable with his defensive side, and we think his bat has an upside. If Opening Day were tomorrow, we’d feel very comfortable with our catching mix,” says GM Neal Huntington. That’s not surprising, given the lack of remaining options on the free agent market. The Pirates also have prospect Elias Diaz, who should be ready for the big leagues after another year or so in the minors.
  • Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg is ready for the team to rebuild, Ryan Lawrence of the Daily News writes. “[Y]ou have to start somewhere. Like the bullpen last year was young players that had to prove something,” says Sandberg. “They had energy and youth on their side and they were successful. To have that a little bit more on the field on a regular basis, and to get that process started building a new core group, I think that’s necessary.”

NL Central Notes: Pirates, Cueto, Lynn, Weeks

The Cubs’ signing of Jon Lester is the headline item out of the NL Central today, but here’s some other pertinent news from the division…

  • Now that the Pirates have re-signed Francisco Liriano, they’re probably not going to look for any more starting pitching and will instead focus on the bullpen, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports (Twitter links).  The Bucs are willing to give a multiyear contract to a reliever “if it’s right guy-right deal situation.”
  • The Reds met with Johnny Cueto‘s agent today to explore a long-term extension, GM Walt Jocketty told reporters (including MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon).  “If it’s possible, I’m not sure it will be, I think it’s still something we have to take a look at as we explore every possibility,” Jocketty said.
  • Teams have reportedly been calling the Reds about Cueto and Aroldis Chapman, though Jocketty said that the Reds aren’t themselves shopping those pitchers.  “I don’t know where the Chapman stuff came from….I walked into the room today and asked our guys if there was anything on Chapman,” the GM said.  “I got three texts and a phone call this morning. I’ll listen to anything that makes sense. It was not something we initiated….I don’t consider, unless we get proposals from clubs, that it’s anything legitimate. It’s just inquiring.”
  • Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jen Langosch) that it’s “fair to say” that Lance Lynn‘s name came up during Mozeliak’s meeting today with an Excel Sports Management agent, as Lynn is an Excel client.  While Mozeliak didn’t comment on the meeting, Langosch wonders if the two sides could’ve discussed Lynn’s forthcoming arbitration eligibility or perhaps even a multiyear extension for the right-hander.
  • The Cardinals have some interest in Rickie Weeks, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets.  The Cards would use Weeks as a right-handed bench bat and possibly also as first base depth, which would require Weeks to learn a new position.
  • How quiet has this Winter Meetings been for the Brewers?  Haudricourt reports (Twitter link) that as of earlier tonight, the Crew had yet to personally meet with any agents or with representatives from another team.

Marlins Interested In Morse, Morneau

As the Marlins continue to look for upgrades at first base, the team is considering free agent Michael Morse and trade target Justin Morneau of the Rockies, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports on Twitter.  Miami is looking for a left-handed bat, but Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates does not seem like a fit.

Morse, 33 in March, enjoyed a strong season with the bat in 2014 with the World Series Champion Giants, batting .279/.336/.475 with 16 homers in 482 plate appearances despite playing in the cavernous AT&T Park.  Morse’s offensive contributions were 30 to 33 percent above league average, per park-adjust stats like OPS+ and wRC+.  Late last month, the Marlins were said to have lukewarm interest in Morse, but things have apparently picked up since then.  Last week we learned that the Orioles were showing strong interest in Morse.

Morneau, 33 (34 in May), enjoyed a bounce back year with the Rockies in 2014, batting .319/.364/.496 with 17 homers in 550 plate appearances.  He offers not only solid production but a palatable contract as well.  He’ll make $7.25MM next season (that’s including the extra $500K he earned by reaching 550 PA last season) along with a $750K buyout on a $9MM mutual option for 2016.