Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors

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

Phillies Notes: Burnett, Hamels, Lee

Here’s the latest on the Phillies and the numerous trade candidates on their roster…

  • The Pirates had a scout watching A.J. Burnett‘s start on Friday, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.  The Bucs are known to be looking for starting pitching and Burnett is certainly a familiar quantity for them.  The veteran righty has a partial no-trade clause, though it isn’t known if he can block a deal to Pittsburgh or if Burnett would welcome a deal to a contender that is still close to his Maryland home.
  • Cole Hamels has received some trade interest from the Red Sox, though CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman wonders if this could be a tactic to restart extension talks with Jon Lester.  Otherwise, Boston’s pursuit of Hamels doesn’t make a lot of sense to Heyman — the Sox could just re-sign Lester, rather than pay a similar price to Hamels through 2018 and have to give up prospects to the Phillies to get him.
  • The Blue Jays and Yankees both scouted Cliff Lee‘s final rehab start, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury writes.  Lee returns from the DL to start against the Giants tonight, and scouts from several teams are expected in attendance for Lee’s two scheduled starts prior to the July 31st deadline.

Tigers, Pirates, Indians Interested In Benoit

The Tigers, Pirates and Indians are interested in Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. The Padres have already shipped out one reliever with closing experience, trading Huston Street to the Angels, but Heyman writes that Benoit will likely fetch a less attractive return, since teams generally view him as a setup man, not a closer.

Heyman notes that the Tigers or Pirates could use Benoit in the eighth inning, allowing Joe Nathan or Mark Melancon, respectively, to continue to close. (Those two teams are also interested in Joakim Soria of the Rangers, Heyman notes.) It isn’t yet clear whether the Indians will be buyers.

Benoit is owed $8MM next year plus $8MM or a $1.5MM buyout in 2016. His 2016 option will vest if he finishes at least 55 games in 2015. Benoit has a 2.04 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 39 2/3 innings with San Diego this year.


NL Central Notes: Reds, Cardinals, Brewers, Pirates

The National League Central saw a change atop its leaderboard as the Brewers fell out of first place for the first time since April 5 after a 5-4 walk-off loss to the Nationals. It could be temporary pending the outcome of the Cardinals’ game with the Dodgers tonight. Here’s the latest from the NL Central:

  • Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty has several of his inner-circle baseball operations people on the road with him and is eyeing some additions, but that doesn’t mean anything will happen this month. “I’d like to add a bat,” Jocketty said, according to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. “We just haven’t found anything that attracts us yet. It may not happen before the 31st.”  Jocketty went on to say if the Reds acquire a bat, the preference would be for the player to play multiple positions.
  • With Brandon Phillips on the disabled list, the Reds GM was asked about pursuing the recently released Dan Uggla. “We haven’t discussed that yet,” Jocketty said (as quoted by John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer). “I haven’t talked to our scouts that saw him. I don’t know. We’re going to meet tomorrow and go over some stuff.
  • In a chat with Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter), Jocketty made it clear he’d like to acquire a middle of the order bat he could put into the Reds‘ lineup right away, not an injury risk type player.  When asked about Rays‘ second baseman Ben Zobrist (link), Jocketty said, “That’s a good name. That’s all I’ll say.”
  • The Reds have interest in the Phillies‘ Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo, reports CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury.
  • The Cardinals‘ top Trade Deadline priority should be starting pitching and not a replacement for the injured Yadier Molina, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • The Cardinals‘ due diligence with David Price is reminiscent of their pursuit of Matt Holliday in 2009, tweets Strauss’ colleague at the P-D, Derrick Goold (Twitter links).
  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin has downplayed the prospects of making a major deal before the Trade Deadline citing the lack of playing time for a bat and the limited impact a reliever can have because of the few innings they pitch, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt.
  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters, including Karen Price of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the ask is still high on the trade market, but the club has the payroll flexibility to make a move. “It’s the basic law of supply and demand,” Huntington said. “There’s not a lot of teams that are looking to sell, and there are a lot of teams looking to buy. There’s not a ton of players out there who are significant upgrades. There are some guys you think can be, so as a result asking prices higher than you’d like. It’s a balance of what do you give up for projected current wins for projected future wins.

Zach Links contributed to this post.



Padres Notes: Benoit, Kennedy, Headley, Cashner

Following the Padres’ trade of Huston Street to the Angels last night, here’s the latest out of San Diego.

  • The Padres’ trade of Street shows about what they’ll expect in return for Joaquin Benoit, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes (Twitter links). Since most teams would not want Benoit to be their closer, though, the price would have to be somewhat lower than it was for Street.
  • The Pirates and Royals both scouted starting pitcher Ian Kennedy last night, Rosenthal tweets. The Pirates are looking for starters and relievers, Rosenthal notes.
  • The Blue Jays are part of an “ongoing dialogue” regarding Chase Headley, Rosenthal’s colleague Jon Morosi tweets. The Jays have shown interest in Headley in the past.
  • The Padres are likely to trade outfielder Chris Denorfia, Morosi tweets. Denorfia, like Headley, is a free agent this coming offseason, so it makes sense that the Padres could have interest in trading them both.
  • In case you missed it from the Yankees notes post, Andy Martino of New York Daily News reports that the Padres are not likely to trade Andrew Cashner, who was terrific this season before going on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Cashner is not eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season.

Latest On Huston Street And Closer Market

With his club sitting 12 games back in the NL West at the All-Star break, Padres closer Huston Street certainly looks to be a prime trade candidate. The 30-year-old righty owns a 1.09 ERA through 33 games and 33 frames on the year, with a sparkling 9.3 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9. This is his third straight season of sub-3.00 ERA work. Street is playing on a $7MM salary for 2014, and can be controlled for $7MM next season via club option.

Here’s the latest news on Street and the rest of the closer market:

  • Street expects to be dealt, he tells Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link). The club has approached him to discuss that possibility, he adds.
  • San Diego has had enough discussions regarding Street that a deal does indeed appear likely, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The club is, however, somewhat hesitant to part with both Street and set-up man Joaquin Benoit, Heyman adds.
  • The Angels are one club looking at Street, reports Heyman. The club’s interest was reported yesterday by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Los Angeles has also considered Jonathan Papelbon of the Phillies, but his contract is an obvious turn-off. (On the other hand, of course, he would presumably require less of a prospect return to acquire.)
  • Also weighing a move on Street are the Pirates, says Heyman. The Orioles and Giants have been mentioned by sources as other speculative possibilities. But Heyman says that those clubs appear more likely to prioritize rotation help.
  • Though the Tigers have been mentioned as a team that could conceivably be interested in late-inning relief help, Heyman says that Detroit has not indicated interest in bringing in an option to challenge or supplant Joe Nathan.

Pirates Release Duke Welker

JULY 14: The Pirates have released Welker, per the MLB.com transactions page.

JULY 9: The Pirates have designated right-hander Duke Welker for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for infielder Matt Hague, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (on Twitter).

Welker, 28, underwent Tommy John surgery last month after allowing six runs in 11 innings of work at the Triple-A level this season. After seeing his prospect star fade as a starter in the Pirates’ minor league system, Welker shifted to the bullpen full-time in 2010 and began to experience success. Baseball America ranked him as Pittsburgh’s No. 26 prospect heading into the 2013 season, and he went on to post a 3.57 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 63 innings of work.

Welker was traded to the Twins as a player to be named later in last August’s Justin Morneau trade, but the Twins flipped him back to the Bucs in a swap for left-hander Kris Johnson this offseason. The former second-round pick made a brief cameo with Pittsburgh’s big league club last season, pitching 1 1/3 perfect innings with one strikeout.

The 28-year-old Hague was hitting .267/.363/.456 with 13 homers in 333 plate appearances with Triple-A Indianapolis this season. He spent some time with the Pirates in 2012 and batted .229/.270/.257 in 70 trips to the dish and hasn’t made it back to the Majors since. He will be available for tonight’s game with Starling Marte having been placed on the bereavement list, the Pirates announced.


Minor Moves: Perez, Marshall, Feierabend

Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball.

  • The Pirates have signed pitcher Rafael Perez to a minor-league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Indianapolis, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets. The lefty has spent the past two seasons pitching in Triple-A and in Mexico. For many years, he was a fixture in the Cleveland Indians bullpen, posting a 3.64 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in parts of seven big-league seasons.
  • The Reds have outrighted pitcher Brett Marshall to Triple-A Louisville, according to MiLB.com. They designated him for assignment on Thursday. Marshall, 24, has struggled this season for Louisville, with 29 runs and 27 walks allowed in 21 1/3 innings there. The Reds claimed him from the Cubs in February.
  • The Rangers have purchased the contract of lefty pitcher Ryan Feierabend, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest tweets. To clear space on their active roster, they’ve optioned pitcher Aaron Poreda to Triple-A Round Rock. Feierabend, 28, last appeared in the big leagues all the way back in 2008 with the Mariners. In 113 innings with Triple-A Round Rock this season, he has a 4.54 ERA with 5.3 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. It’s not clear who will start for the Rangers tomorrow; Feierabend, who last pitched on Tuesday, looks like he could be a candidate.

NL Notes: Nelson, Pirates, Street, Dodgers, Padres GM

We just took a quick look at the NL East; here’s the latest from the rest of the National League:

  • The Brewers will once again recall top prospect Jimmy Nelson, this time to take the rotation spot of the struggling Marco Estrada, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported yesterday (via Twitter). Nelson, who entered the year with 27 days of service, received a one-game callup earlier in the year. Now, it seems he could be in the bigs to stay. At this point, he will not be able to accrue sufficient service time to qualify for Super Two status.
  • With the Pirates bullpen showing some signs of wear, the club will be on the lookout for relief help in addition to starters, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. One possibility, says Biertempfel, is Huston Street of the Padres. Though he figures to require a substantial return, Street would potentially slot in as the club’s closer with Mark Melancon returning to an 8th-inning role. Pittsburgh has also recently scouted the Red Sox, who have several arms that could appeal.
  • The Dodgers have now sat center fielder Andre Ethier twice in a row against righties, leading Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com to wonder whether the club will look for an alternative. Scott Van Slyke, who has been in the lineup, does not look like a long-term solution in that role, so Saxon suggests that top prospect Joc Pederson could potentially receive a nod. If that happens, says Saxon, the club may well “fell compelled” to deal one of the team’s four highly-paid outfielders over the summer.
  • Here’s the latest on the Padres‘ GM search, which the club hopes to wrap up by mid-August, according to a tweet from Scott Miller of Bleacher Report. The team will ultimately sit down with about a dozen options, then call back a few for a second interview. Today, the club announced, MLB senior VP for baseball operations Kim Ng had an interview. Meanwhile, internal possibility A.J. Hinch has told the Pads that he does not wish to be considered, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

Central Links: Alcantara, Bailey, Worley, Masterson, Sox

Originally recalled for a two-day period with Darwin Barney on paternity leave, Cubs second baseman Arismendy Alcantara has been informed that he will be with the team at least through the All-Star break, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Alcantara, who ranked 33rd on Baseball America’s midseason list of the game’s Top 50 prospects, says he was surprised by the news. Manager Rick Renteria offered praise for the 22-year-old, who collected his first four Major League hits in today’s contest.

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

  • Reds right-hander Homer Bailey left today’s game after five innings due to a slight strain in his right knee, but he won’t see his name added to the list of significant injuries that have stricken contending teams today. The Reds have announced that he is expected to make his next start.
  • Twins GM Terry Ryan tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he’s glad to see Vance Worley performing well with the Pirates, though he did imply that it’s too early to say that the Twins gave up on Worley too soon: “Give him a little time to see what he does over the course of starts. We’ll talk about that in October. See how it goes. I know he’s done well.”
  • The Indians are hopeful that Justin Masterson‘s two weeks on the disabled list will not only give him a chance to heal, but to help him get his mechanics back in line, reports MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway feels that Masterson’s knee has affected the way he’s been able to land during his delivery, which would explain the sharp decrease in velocity Masterson has seen this year.
  • White Sox GM Rick Hahn would need to receive an offer that knocks his cell phone out of his hands in order to trade Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Avisail Garcia or Jose Abreu, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. However, Hahn notes that oftentimes, a trade will come together when a rival club’s initial inquiry is on a player that is unavailable, as it leads to the suggestion of alternative options.

AL West Notes: Grilli, Angels, Aiken, Morales

In a video interview with ESPN’s Jim Bowden, Angels GM Jerry Dipoto discussed the recent trades his team has made. Regarding the team’s swap of Ernesto Frieri for Jason Grilli, Dipoto tells Bowden that he received a text message from Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington, and the discussions took “about seven minutes” from start to agreement. The Halos’ interest in Grilli dates all the way back to his most recent run as a free agent, says Dipoto, who adds that the team discussed similar deals to this trade before making the move.

More from Dipoto’s chat with Bowden and the rest of the AL West below…

  • Regarding his acquisition of lefty Joe Thatcher, Dipoto notes “that’s one we’d been looking at for quite a long time.” Dipoto adds that Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers had made his interest in Zach Borenstein, who went to Arizona in the deal, known in the past. Perhaps most interestingly, Dipoto implies that the negotiations on the trade took place with Towers. Previous reports have indicated that some organizations weren’t sure about Arizona’s front office hierarchy now that Tony La Russa is in the mix.
  • Asked by Bowden if the Angels were done shopping, Dipoto replied, “We’ll continue to try to find ways to make the team better. Particularly, I’ve talked about the idea that if we can find one more piece for that bullpen.” Dipoto makes sure to qualify that he’s very pleased with the current mix of relievers but remains open to possible improvements at the back of the ‘pen.
  • Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle spoke with Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, who said he’s hopeful the team can reach an agreement with top pick Brady Aiken, but he won’t handicap it either way (Twitter link). Earlier today, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that a ligament issue in Aiken’s elbow has held up negotiations and caused the Astros to drop their bonus offer from $6.5MM to $5MM. Drellich talked to Aiken’s trainer, who claims that the lefty is healthy.
  • With the Twins in Seattle, Kendrys Morales spoke through an interpreter to the Seattle media (including Bob Candotta of the Seattle Times) about his offseason discussions with his former club. Morales said there was a bit of discussion with the Mariners, but as his interpreter says: “…in his heart he just didn’t really want to come back here and be in the same spot. He was taking his chances to see maybe something would get better.”